Held in-person for the first time since 2019, SAME 2022 Capital Week offered a premier opportunity for over 650 attendees to network and hear from the executive leaders and federal agencies on their upcoming programs. Additionally, the Golden Eagle Dinner on Monday night recognized four distinguished recipients for their contributions and dedication to the A/E/C profession and national security.

The week’s two highlight events–an Executive Leaders Panel featuring engineering service chiefs and leaders from DOD, Army, Navy, Air Force, and the VA; and a keynote address from Ambassador William Moser, Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO)–both discussed the criticality of building strong partnerships between industry and government. As engineers contend with substantial workload challenges, compounded by issues of supply chain delays, inflation, and labor market shortages, events such as Capital Week, where industry and government are able to come together on an even footing and get after real solutions, are only going to increase in need.

Getting Real. Getting Better. 

At the Executive Leaders Panel, “workload” was again a major buzzword. Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, P.E., PMP, USA, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, noted that the last year saw a record Corps program of $92 billion. This remark was echoed by Brig. Gen. William Kale, P.E., Director, Air Force Civil Engineers, when he noted that the FY22 budget for the Air Force doubled the size of MILCON. Similarly, NAVFAC continues to make large capital investments in the billion-dollar territory in shipyard optimization platforms, Rear Adm. John Korka, P.E., F.SAME, CEC, USN, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command & Chief of Civil Engineers, said.

To get after this increasing workload requires a greater emphasis on delivery and execution, but new wrinkles have appeared in the landscape over the past year. Notably, challenges in the supply chain, labor market, and materials have thrown up roadblocks to successful deliveries. Cost estimating has likewise been weighing heavily on projects, made worse by inflationary pressures.

During the question and answer segment, an honest conversation emerged between industry and government on the challenges surrounding partnering and how there was still much work to be done in this area. Empowering contracting officers to increase transparency and feel like they have the capacity to elevate issues when needed is a hard-fought battle, but as Rear Adm. Korka said, “Get real. Get better,” meaning that legacy approaches are no longer enough when faced with a modern paradigm, and a fundamental shift in culture and leader development is needed. The rewards, when those hard-earned changes take effect, are well worth it.

Building Community Engagement

At the Networking Lunch, attendees enjoyed a special keynote address from Ambassador William Moser, Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO). His remarks touched on the top challenges for OBO, discussed some of the key initiatives and efforts underway to address these concerns, and stressed again the importance of fostering collaborative partnerships with industry to get the job done.

Top challenges for OBO and its global footprint of diplomatic facilities include addressing climate security, finding ways to work smarter and more effectively in the face of increasing complexity and decreasing resources, improving processes in project delivery, and increasing contractor engagement. While progress is being made on all these fronts, there remains a considerable amount of work to be done, and the key to accomplishing it again rest in the innovation and dedication of the professional community.

Throughout his remarks and the video to conclude his presentation, Amb. Moser often made reference to “The Embassy Effect”—meaning the inspiring impact a U.S. embassy has on the surrounding community. Encompassing the diplomatic, sustainment, economic, and social impact of one of OBO’s projects, “The Embassy Effect” illuminates a larger truth echoed across Capital Week: that the complex projects of the day are not monoliths but interwoven feats of collaboration, built on a foundation of trust between government and industry, private and public.

A Legacy of Dedication and Service

Before the DOD Briefings at Capital Week, SAME Members gathered together for the Golden Eagle Award Dinner. This prestigious event celebrates two outstanding Americans: one, an SAME Fellow, for contributions to the A/E/C profession, and one for contributions to national security.

The recipients of the 2022 Golden Eagle Awards were Vice Adm. Michael Loose, P.E., F.SAME, CEC, USN (Ret.), and Vice Adm. Jerome Adams, MD, FASA, USPHS (Ret.). This year, due to the pandemic, the dinner also recognized the Centennial recipients of the Golden Eagle Award in person: Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, P.E., F.SAME, USA (Ret.), and Joe Galloway (posthumously).

A portion of the proceeds from the dinner went to the SAME Foundation to support its mission to foster engineering leadership for the nation. Each awardee highlighted the role of SAME in supporting national security and spoke on the importance of collaboration, service, and patriotism.

Staying in the Know

The FY2023 DOD Briefings held over two days at the 2022 Capital Week were standing-room only, as attendees listened in on insights from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of State, Department of Energy, VA, Architect of the Capitol, FEMA, and more. These briefing provided crucial information from contracting representatives, flag and general officers, and senior executive service leaders on projected upcoming fiscal year engineering, construction, and environmental programs.

Downloads of the presentations are now available in the Attendee Service Center.

Want to learn more about what happened during Capital Week? Get the full highlights in our Daily Recaps: March 22 | March 23