17 Jan 2013

The Appeal of Modular Construction for the Federal Government

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Permanent Modular Construction

Modular construction of federal projects such as SCIFs has a lot of appeal in Congress, since they represent a way of saving on construction costs. SCIFs are also durable structures that have a reduced impact on the environment. The term permanent modular constructions (PMC), a term used in the Appropriations Report Language, has been instituted in the FY2012 Military Construction and Veteran Affairs Appropriations Act. It was introduced to encourage federal agencies to utilize PMC technology whenever possible. Modular SCIF construction provides our customers the flexibility to design a customized turnkey SCIF space to meet all of their mission demands.

As stated in the Modular Building Institute blog, “Appropriations Report Language is a key aspect of the appropriations process. Typically, Committee reports focus on congressional priorities by communicating directly with federal agencies areas of concern through the funding mechanism. Report Language explains congressional intent and agencies take them seriously because they must justify their budget requests annually to Congress. Additionally, Report Language can often suggest or direct an Agency to perform certain actions.”

In order to level the playing field for PMC developers, the Committee has mandated a clear set of standards that takes into consideration a number of design and construction factors. These include:

  • Materials
  • Speed of Construction
  • Base Realignments
  • Life-Cycle Costs
  • Operational Requirements

Consider Alternative Forms of Construction

This language is vital to the growth of the PMC industry since it represents the first time that Congress has directed federal agencies to consider alternative forms of construction. This includes modular construction, considered as being on par with traditional construction methods. Historically, the Government Accounting Office indicated that the Department of Defense and other federal agencies routinely based their choice of construction methods more on habit or anecdotal evidence. They are now asked for empirical data when it comes to considering alternative construction methods. This directive could have a significant impact on agencies tasked with federal construction oversight.

“In addition to the language included in the FY2013 Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act regarding Permanent Modular Construction, MBI also pursued language encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs to reexamine their use of Design-Build and whenever practical for the VA to utilize Design-Build, thus allowing all sectors of the construction industry to compete and to benefit from the various advantages Design-Build has to offer.”

Modular construction offers a number of clear advantages to federal agencies, such as reduced construction costs, reduced time to completion, superior quality assurance, and lower life-cycle costs. It is understandable that the Committee encourages the consideration of alternative construction methods. The adoption of Appropriations Report Language helps reduce the scrutiny traditionally given by House Appropriations members to proposals by PMC developers. This, in turn, will save both time and money when it comes to constructing and/or altering federal buildings.


Jaye Andone is CEO of SCIF Global Technologies, a Jacksonville, Florida firm that specializes in designing Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities worldwide. To learn more, visit www.scifglobal.com or call 904-265-1902.

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About the Author


Jaye Andone is president and CEO of SCIF Global Technologies. Jaye will most likely be your first point of contact to lead you through the process from concept to procurement of your facility. Request a Quote or give her a call: 904-524-0911

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