Recapping the FY2018 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings

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The FY2018 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings, part of SAME Capital Week, took place March 7, 2017, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in North Bethesda, Md. SAME members from throughout the A/E/C industry attended informational sessions facilitated by military leaders and federal agency representatives who gave insight on support needed in architecture, engineering and construction for the current fiscal year and outlooks for upcoming years. Main themes for this year were infrastructure, resiliency, and cyber security.  

[See more from the 2017 Capital Week: Golden Eagle Awards Dinner / Academy of Fellows Investiture.] 

The event began with welcome remarks from Brig. Gen. Joe Schroedel, F.SAME, USA (Ret.), SAME Executive Director, and opening comments from SAME National President, Capt. Michael Blount, F.SAME, USN (Ret.), who moderated this year’s executive panel.

Blount acknowledged the 75th Anniversary of the Navy’s Seabees (March 5) by having all Seabees in attendance stand so they could be recognized. He also noted that the Seabees will be featured in a special commemorative feature within the March-April issue of TME.

 

DOD EXECUTIVE PANEL

The executive panel featured Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, USA, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, CEC, USN, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Chief of Civil Engineers, Maj. Gen. Tim Green, USAF, Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, Engineering & Force Protection, and Joe Capps, SES, Chief of Staff, Army Installation Management Command. Each leader acknowledged potential changes due to the new administration, but affirmed that while some existing programs may not be given as much attention as in the past because certain champions are no longer leading the efforts, those efforts that directly benefit the mission and readiness and assurance are likely to continue. 

  • USACE Focus: Deliver the Program and Execute the Mission
    • (Military Missions, Civil Works, Contingency Operations, International and Interagency Support, Geospatial Support, Research and Development)
  • NAVFAC Focus: Ruthless Execution
    • (Analytical Decision-Making, Enhancing Processes and Tools, Cyber Protection, Utilities System Management, Energy Resiliency and Efficiency)
  • Air Force Civil Engineering Focus: Readiness
    • (Nuclear Enterprise, Space and Cyber Protection, Beddown for the F-35, Environmental, Energy Resiliency)
  • IMCOM Focus: Sustainment
    • (Flexible Facilities, Aging Workforce, Cyberspace, Worldwide Engagement)

 

During the Q&A period following, SAME members honed in on cybersecurity and Public-Private Partnerships (P3s). Gen. Semonite listed a few P3 examples and touted cost benefits and time savings as advantages when using this option for construction. Overall, most of the panelists expressed interest in utilizing P3s to secure more funding for upcoming projects and seemed open to commercial solutions, as well as expertise needed to implement agile methodology.

The day’s program continued with breakout sessions running concurrently, while members selected topics based on their specific interests.  Agencies presenting included: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Army Environmental Command, Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, U.S. Forest Service, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Army Geospatial Center, Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, National Nuclear Security Administration, and Army Installation Management Command.

 

FEATURED SESSIONS IN FOCUS

USACE Civil Works. Maj. Gen. Ed Jackson, USA, gave a summary of ongoing projects across the United States and kept it short in order to spend more time in the Q&A phase. Major projects were related to flood management, aquatic ecosystem restoration, aging dams, river dredging and pipelines. Upcoming pipelines that have been approved include Standing Rock and Keystone. The Olmsted Lock and Dam is funded for FY2017 and expected to be completed in 2018. Gen. Jackson took several questions from the audience ranging from irrigation to funding, permits, workforce and regulatory issues.

Army Design & Construction. Panelists for HQ USACE were Ray Alexander, Stacy Hirata and Lloyd Caldwell, who gave a slide presentation of the Army’s objectives. The panelists shared the Corps’ efforts to take its capabilities and apply them across military and non-military programs all over the country and the world. Each year, the Corps’ workload has hovered around $20 billion, and typically exceeds that projection by $2 to $3 billion per year. During FY2018, USACE will focus on more cybersecurity and military construction, however aging buildings remained an issue on the agenda.

The Mosul Dam, located in Iraq and considered among the most dangerous projects in the world, led the discussion on international projects. USACE is stationed there along with Iraqis and contractors. The Corps leads this the team tasked with repairing the dam’s foundation and the damage done during the 10 days when ISIS had seized control. The dam’s foundation requires around the clock maintenance.

Department of Energy and Department of Veterans Affairs. Speakers on the panel were Dennis Milsten from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Cameron Manning, F.SAME, from National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and Andy Wirkkala from the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. Partnerships with other industries was a focus for the VA. Milsten highlighted the hospitals that have been built for veterans around the country and expect P3s to a play a role in funding the Chip in for Veterans Act.

Manning shared NNSA’s vision of acquisition and project management. With projects ramped up, the agency is looking to more partnerships to get work completed. NNSA has a budget of about $11 billion.

Andy Wirkkala presented the Energy Department’s mission and shared some of the contracts that will be awarded. The department is challenged with the cleanup of decades of nuclear weapons and government sponsored nuclear energy research.  Upcoming contracts mentioned were the Savannah River, Carlsbad WIPP Transportation, and the Portsmouth Paducah Office.

Navy Design & Construction. Rear Adm. Mark Handley, F.SAME, USN (Ret.), served as moderator for Joseph Gott and Cindy Readal from NAVFAC. This year, the Navy is focusing on controlling projects better in order to save money. The panelists discussed a need for better understanding of codes, specifications and best practices to effect change. The Navy will undergo a cost analysis to achieve its goals.

During the Q&A, the panelists was asked to give advice to industry leaders vying to win contracts with the Navy. They suggested always putting your “A Team” on the proposal. Once you win the contract, they cautioned against hiring one of your subcontractors to complete the job. Lastly, they reminded everyone to please have patience. They are not as nimble as some private businesses and therefore it will take longer to push changes or ideas through their system.

Air Force Design & Construction. Panelists Col. Charlie Kuhl, USAF, and Col. Brian May, USAF, discussed current Air Force Civil Engineering initiatives. The Air Force is putting emphasis on connecting its vision with airmen on the ground. Hot topics for the year include requirements development, climate change considerations, community and government standards, corrosion, mission assurance, business intelligence, and leadership. Like other service branches, the Air Force is currently conducting a study to help improve efficiencies.

Click here to view session presentations from the FY2018 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings. Follow the event using #SAMEDOD.