The U.S. State Dept.'s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations is rolling out a five-year strategic plan for information technology to support posts around the world and the agency's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Announced at a conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7, the plan's key goals include the development of a global unified building management system as well as a comprehensive building-information-modeling solution for life-cycle building planning and operations.

Danilo Stapulo, chief of OBO's information resource management application development branch, says that when his office recently analyzed OBO's strengths and weaknesses, the need for interoperability "kept popping up."

OBO managers were "spending altogether too much time both integrating …applications and reconciling data between systems," Stapulo told attendees at Ecobuild America 2011, sponsored by the National Institute of Building Sciences. OBO wants to develop an integrated system wherein data from different applications can speak the same language.

OBO's plan expands use of the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) standard. Under COBie, designers and engineers provide data to the building owner and/or building tenants and operators on effective, efficient building operations.

"Sustainability in recent years has become more and more important to us as an organization," said Robert Clarke, OBO's information resource management division director. The OBO spends approximately $1.3 billion annually on the operations and maintenance of its posts around the world, Clarke added.

More owners are focusing on a building's entire life cycle, noted Deke Smith, executive director of the buildingSMART Alliance. This shift has brought solutions like the COBie standard to prominence.

"Historically, we've concentrated a lot on the A/E/C side of the effort, and now we're really starting to get out into the operations—and that's truly where the dollar savings are going to come from," Smith said.