DC Post Leads Joint Event on Construction Trends and Opportunities

In support of the SAME mission to “lead collaborative efforts to identify and resolve national security infrastructure-related challenges” the Washington DC Post in conjunction with the local chapters of ACEC and CMAA held the 10th Annual Joint Conference on “Construction Program Trends, Strategies and Opportunities” at the Army and Navy Club on June 15, 2017. Registration sold out with 100 professionals from across military, government, and small and large businesses in attendance.

The keynote speaker for the event was Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, P.E., USA, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Scott McMillan, Division Chief of the International Monetary Fund, and Karen Durham-Aguilera, SES, Executive Director, Army National Military Cemeteries also both gave presentations during the day on their respective agencies’ programs.

The event opened with a welcome from Washington DC Post Past President and the conference moderator, Philios Angelides, F.SAME. Current DC Post President, Susan Merrigan, led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by comments from Michael Retton, President, ACEC; and Joyce Dawson, President of the CMAA National Capital Chapter.

Leadership from all three organizations was excited about their partnership and the scheduled speakers.


Lt. Gen. Semonite interacted with the group right away, taking questions to help establish topics of focus for his discussion. After writing the topics on a flip chart, the general led the conference with a dynamic speech including the transition to a new administration, infrastructure planning, the Corps’ Civil Works program, public-private partnership project funding, small business contracting, and federal acquisition. He also gave examples of new technology and automation that could help the Army and briefed the audience on the current threat level.

After his discussion Gen. Semonite took questions on public-private partnerships and how to make them work; what is the best way for industry to work with government; and whether or not there is support for small business. When answering, he encouraged P3s but noted that it is not a perfect solution for all projects.

In order to work together with government, he encouraged companies to speak up about what works for them, then government agencies can consider that input when bidding projects.  He explained as well, that while an advocate for small business, the general is also concerned about project failure rate and suggested there may be a need for better vetting procedures going forward.


The second presentation was from Scott McMillan of the International Monetary Fund. IMF provides funding globally to support organizations within its 189 member countries. McMillan presented a slide show on the role of corporate real estate in an organization, being good stewards of resources, and the importance of using best practices when managing projects.

With over 70 percent of the world’s wealth stemming from this work, real estate professionals touch many aspects of a construction project such as sustainability, cultural considerations, property development, ethics, and client relationships. In addition to monetary support, the IMF provides technical assistance and training to bridge the gap between the contractor and cultural observances in the country, along with providing surveillance for financial policies and economic oversight of funds.

To close the day, Karen Durham-Aguilera gave a detailed account of visitation levels for Arlington National Cemetery, current construction projects, and the pressing need for expansion of the cemetery. Without expansion, in 25 years, Arlington National Cemetery will reach capacity.

Durham-Aguilera discussed possibly relocating their service center and the use of preset crypts, as the Veterans Administration now does. She showed two presentations and touted use of GIS technology in memorial identification, virtual visitation capabilities, and invited industry input on internment requirements. Her staff is also considering an online survey in order to collect comments from the general public as planning moves forward. The full presentation on the Arlington National Cemetery program is available here.  Click here to learn more on the history of Arlington National Cemetery.

The day-long event finished with time for additional networking among the various business representatives, organizations and government personnel who attended the conference. For more information on the SAME DC Post, and its upcoming events, visit www.samedcpost.org.


SAME, founded in 1920 out of the need to harness the technical engineering lessons and camaraderie shared during battlefield experiences in World War I, has today grown to more than 29,000 members and 1,500 Sustaining Member companies, public agencies and academic institutions—representing the military and public sector engineering community, as well as the architecture, engineering and construction industry. SAME provides extensive opportunities for training, education and professional development through a robust offering of conferences, workshops, forums, networking events, webinars, and publications. For more information, visit www.same.org.

The American Council of Engineering Companies is a federation of 52 state and regional councils with more than 600,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors and other professionals. Representing the engineering industry throughout the nation, ACEC has a history dating back more than 100 years. Their primary focus is to strengthen the business environment of member firms. For more information visit, http://www.acec.org/.

CMAA was formed in 1982 as a means to establish a set of standards for managing capital construction projects. Construction management is rooted in traditional project management practices; however, it requires its own unique set of skills and professional knowledge. One of CMAA’s goals is to help the construction management profession further develop its own unique identity within the Architecture/Engineering/Construction industry. Please contact them at http://cmaanet.org/.