Recapping the FY17 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings

Two days.

16 federal agencies.

29 speakers.

Nearly 600 attendees.

Billions of dollars of government projects and services needed.

The SAME FY2017 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings, held March 8-9 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, Va., gave SAME members from across the A/E/C industry an opportunity to hear directly from the military services and several federal agencies on where they need support for their respective architecture, engineering, construction, environmental and installation support programs both in the current and coming fiscal year.

The government agencies also provided insight into emerging trends (such as resilience, and cyber and energy security for instance) that they are focusing on in the near future and where they will need industry to work with them to provide solutions supporting our national security.

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Photos by Natalie Rooney, SAME National Office

The FY2017 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings kicked off Tuesday midday with a DOD Executive Panel, moderated by SAME President Jane Penny. The panelists, Lt. Gen. David Halverson, USA, Maj. Gen. Tim Green, USAF, Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, USN, and Maj. Gen. Mark Yenter, USA, offered a high-level perspective on their Military Construction and Operations & Maintenance funding profiles as well as some emerging growth areas where they anticipate that they will need support from industry partners to achieve their mission. 

Agency briefings began Tuesday afternoon, with presentations from Maj. Gen. Ed Jackson, USA, Deputy Commanding General for Civil & Emergency Operations, on USACE’s Civil Works program, and from Col. Juan Saldivar, USA, and Scott Dias, with Army & Air Force Exchange Service and the Army Installation Management Command, respectively. The Civil Works briefing highlighted a focal area for USACE: alternative financing. Gen. Jackson touched on the importance of the Fargo-Moorehead project in North Dakota, which is currently serving as a key pilot test for the agency’s ability to work with a local community and execute a Civil Works project through a public-private or public-public partnership. If the project proves successful, it could serve as a catalyst for more similar arrangements across the country—allowing more key infrastructure projects to be planned, undertaken and executed.

A networking reception closed out day one of the DOD & Federal Agency Briefings. 

Wednesday morning’s schedule comprised eight sessions—including the Navy Design & Construction Program and the Air Force Design & Construction Programs; as well as Army, Navy and Air Force Environmental Programs; the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and National Nuclear Security Administration programs; the Department of State’s Overseas Building Operations program; the Army’s engineer research and support centers’ programs; and the General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and U.S. Custom & Border Protection programs. One of the session moderator’s, retired Army Col. Pete Mueller, now with the Architect of the Capitol, also gave an impromptu briefing on his agency’s design and construction program for the coming year. 

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Collectively, the multiple sessions provided attendees a chance to hear the perspective of both civilian and military agencies on the emerging trends and needs. Common themes emerged: agencies are being asked to take risk in their infrastructure and facilities as other bills have to be paid first. The agencies also are looking for ways to leverage existing resources and capabilities. Notably, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Nuclear Security Administration are working with USACE to be their construction agent. USACE’s interagency and international support is a growing area. As Lloyd Caldwell, USACE Director of Military Programs remarked, even though its Military Construction budget is down from past years the Corps remains as busy as ever…just in a different way.

Another takeaway, which was especially evident during the Air Force briefing, is a move to get away from the craziness of year-end and move contract award “to the left.” Better defining requirements and defining them earlier on will be a key focus for the service in changing what has been a long-standing historical trend of racing to award projects during September, the last month of the fiscal year. 

All presentations from the FY2017 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings are available on the SAME website. Click here to access the presentations.

Next year, the event will return to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in North Bethesda, Md., and be a one-day event again. More information will be available later this year at www.same.org/dod.