NAO 217-101: Space Management Policy for Systems Furniture Applications

Effective 03/19/92; Reviewed Last: 12/22/2014 Reviewed Last: 08/2016 Pending Revisions

NOAA Circular 92-08

TO: All NOAA Employees in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area


This Circular prescribes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) policy for planning systems furniture in the Headquarters Region for facilities that are designed and constructed for an open office environment. The policy outlines standards developed and applied by the Facilities Management Division, OA34, Procurement, Grants and Administrative Services Office, Office of Administration, in order to:


.01 Functional and efficient use of space is a goal of NOAA. The open office concept provides the highest degree of efficiency, functionality, and aesthetic appeal available in the contemporary workplace. NOAA is committed to the open office environment in facilities that are constructed for its application. The guidance set forth in this Circular establishes the standards by which conversion from conventional furniture to furniture systems shall occur to ensure that the goal is met.

.02 The standards established in the planning and design of Silver Spring Metro Center (SSMC) I and II shall serve as the model for future systems furniture application.


The Facilities Management Division, OA34 (FMD), Procurement, Grants and Administrative Services Office (PGAS), Office of Administration (OA), is responsible for the development and implementation of policy as specified in this Circular.


.01 Workstations.

a. The variety of activities conducted at NOAA demand special workspace considerations. Tasks performed exhibit both distinct and similar characteristics. FMD has developed a series of prototypical workstations to efficiently meet the needs of NOAA employees.

b. Typical workstations shall be assigned by job function and position grade. General workstation categories include: clerical, technical/professional, supervisory, and executive. Workstations vary in sizes, finishes, components, and degree of enclosure. Interior architectural features of each facility shall have some effect on workstation configuration.

.02 Private Offices.

a. In space new to NOAA's inventory, private offices with ceiling high walls shall be limited to SES employees, Supervisory GM-15 positions and above, and the primary EEO manager function for each Line Office (LO) because:

  1. space utilization greatly improves when systems furniture is used in lieu of private offices, thereby reducing construction and space rental costs;
  2. heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is more efficient with the open office concept, eliminating the potential for interrupted air flow and temperature variations; and
  3. open space planning, with few private offices, provides greater access to natural light for all employees improving morale and productivity.

b. Unique conditions such as overriding concerns for national security may result in a LO requesting a private office for an individual other than an SES or Supervisory GM-15 employee. Such rare exceptions must be appealed to the Director, PGAS, by the LO Management and Budget Officer or Staff Office (SO) equivalent with supporting rationale as to why the requirement cannot be satisfied through the use of common spaces including conference/interview/negotiation rooms outlined in Section 4.05 of this Circular. If the Director, PGAS, cannot support the request, the justification shall be reviewed by the Director, OA. The final decision shall be based on issues of overall consistency and equality between LOs. However, in no event shall more than five (5) percent of each LOs' workstations on a floor be allocated to private offices for individuals below the Supervisory GM-15 level. Private offices allowed as an exception shall only be located on the interior core of the facility and occupy the same amount of space otherwise provided in a typical workstation with low panels.

c. In space leased outside of the SSMC, the general policy applies for private offices with the exception that consideration shall be given for the existing configuration of the space. When that configuration meets the needs of the clients and is within the range of the FPMR guidelines, private offices can be approved, on a case by case basis, to avoid additional construction costs and time delays.

.03 Organizational Boundaries.

Unique functional or confidentiality needs may require an organization to be situated with a natural or established boundary between it and other agency elements. Special adjacencies and apportionment shall be provided in lieu of private office for all employees in the organization. Requests for boundaries shall be coordinated by the FMD.

.04 Freestanding Furniture.

Freestanding furniture used in conjunction with systems furniture workstations includes desk and conference chairs, guest chairs, file cabinets, tables, and reception furniture. Furniture selections shall be based on style and color compatibility with systems furniture, consideration to GSA schedule requirements, and cost effectiveness.

.05 Conference/Interview/Negotiation Rooms.

While maximizing flexibility and efficiency of systems furniture, care shall be taken to provide shared common areas for the conduct of group meetings or meetings of a sensitive nature. Shared areas for conferences, employee counseling, interviews, and negotiations are features planned in the open office environment. The schedule for use of these spaces shall be maintained by the primary tenant group in the vicinity. However, all rooms are available for use by other NOAA organizations.

.06 Training Space.

Employee training requirements shall be coordinated by the Staffing and Employee Development Branch (OA214), Personnel and Civil Rights Office. Training space for the conduct of formal training shall be designated by that office. Informal in-house training shall be conducted in conference rooms.

.07 Finishes.

Three (3) color schemes shall be used in all systems furniture applications. The color schemes shall be distributed by floor as in the SSMC and Germantown buildings. This allows flexibility to change workstations as organizational requirements change and allows control over the massive central inventory of workstation components. Use of standardized finishes promotes a cohesive identity for NOAA spaces throughout the National Capital Region.

.08 Kitchenettes and Coffee Stations in the SSMC.

Kitchenettes shall contain appliances including refrigerator, microwave oven, coffee maker, and vending machine. Kitchenettes shall be used for the temporary storage and preparation of lunches and snacks. Centralizing the location of appliances in a designated area shall eliminate potential mechanical and electrical problems created by appliances located at systems furniture workstations. Appliances such as refrigerators, coffee pots, space heaters, microwave ovens, etc. are prohibited in other than designated areas.




Director, Office of Administration

Office of Primary Interest:
Office of Administration
Procurement, Grants and Administrative Services Office
Facilities Management Division
Chief, Building Management Branch (OA342)