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The Australian National University
Facilities and Services Division
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Policy in Relation to Alterations in or about University Buildings


In November 1986 Council adopted a policy in relation to the built space of the University. In short this policy vested authority for the disposition of space in the Vice-Chancellor and such authority overrides any precedent established by traditional occupation. The Vice-Chancellor can, and has, delegated his authority to specific persons in relation to certain spaces; the delegations can be withdrawn. Delegations clearly exclude the right to cause any changes to be made to the building fabric without reference to the Head, Buildings and Grounds Division.

Proposals on the policy in relation to alterations in or about University buildings were discussed at Heads of Research Schools and the Board of The Faculties in mid 1987. The then Head of Buildings and Grounds Division, Mr Ken Harrison, introduced the topic, stressing the need for a recognised method of operation.

It was agreed by both groups that central coordination of activity was desirable in order to avoid the problems of non-compliance with building and safety regulations.

The further benefits following on from the establishment of a data base for maintenance scheduling and estimating were acknowledged.

Consideration was given to the legal responsibilities of the University to comply with the regulations imposed by Government departments.

The University is a single legal identity and as such is represented by the Vice-Chancellor. No other officer has legal standing and the individual schools and sections have no legal identity in their own right. The corporate risk is too great to allow individual sections to commit the University in such areas without some form of central coordination. Whilst the need to seek formal approval from the Head, Buildings and Grounds Division may seem restrictive, a standardised format within agreed guidelines should permit rapid approval.

The University has never had a properly maintained system for recording the physical attributes of its buildings and services, e.g. electricity and water reticulation. The Buildings and Grounds Division attacked this problem by the installation of a computerised data base for facilities management. All building floor plans have been transferred to the computerised draughting system. At a subsequent stage services details such as electrical, fire, lighting, equipment and fixed furniture layouts, etc., will be added. Attributes for each space, e.g. its use (office, laboratory, store, workshop, etc.), type of floor covering, air-conditioning installed and any other features will be added. In addition a maintenance history, details of alterations, costs and planning of future maintenance is scheduled. When in place, the facilities management system will allow, among other things, the development of a realistic space inventory, a space utilisation index, a property register, the allocation of resources within the Works & Services Department, and will provide data for a maintenance history. Entering and verifying the data will take some time to complete.

It can be readily appreciated that the integrity of the data could be compromised if changes are made that are not accurately recorded.

This is most likely to happen in relation to electrical, telephonic and data systems, but some structural changes and alterations to other services are currently being made also without reference to the Buildings and Grounds Division. This has led to considerable difficulties with the Building Section of the ACT Administration and the relevant internal Staff Associations.

Method of Operation

1) Any operation involving an alteration to the fabric of a building must have the prior approval of the Head, Buildings and Grounds Division or his delegate (see attached listing).

2) All proposed works must be notified to the Head, Buildings and Grounds

Division at the earliest possible stage in the planning process.

The aim is to avoid the problems set out above. The Head, Buildings and Grounds Division has the authority to require changes to the proposal where there is some conflict with statutory requirements or University policy. Advice will also be offered where a plan is thought not to be cost effective, and where more economical alternatives are possible.

A check list has been prepared to assist responsible officers to take appropriate steps in relation to any proposal for internal or external change to a University building.