Recapping the FY2020 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings

On March 12, 2019, SAME hosted the FY2020 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings. This year, more than 600 attendees packed the Hyatt Regency Dulles in Herndon, Va., for the annual event, part of SAME Capital Week. The briefings provide updates on upcoming engineering, design, facilities maintenance, and environmental programs of the federal government.

Participating agencies this year once again included U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Army Installation Management Command, Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, General Services Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Defense Health Agency. New participants for 2019 included the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Forest Service, and Architect of the Capitol.

The day kicked off with the DOD Executive Panel, moderated by SAME National President, Col. Marv Fisher, LEED AP, F.SAME, USAF (Ret.), of Farnsworth Group, and featured Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, P.E., USA, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nancy Balkus, P.E., SES, Deputy Director of Civil Engineers, Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics, Engineering & Force Protecion, HQ U.S. Air Force, and Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey, P.E., CEC, USN, Vice Commander, NAVFAC Atlantic.

Lt. Gen. Semonite discussed readiness as the number one priority and modernization as number two for the Army. He touched on the impact USACE had over the past year including Civil Works projects and success on the Mosul Dam in Iraq. Going forward, he would like to achieve better partnering with government and industry. USACE has several new initiatives to do just that.

Adm. VanderLey shared with the audience new capabilities for project management, new equipment procurement, and an upcoming focus on shipyard optimization over the next 20 years. Details include new Columbia-class submarines that will replace the Tridents and Navy/Marine work in the Carolina Region as a result of storms last year.

Balkus reported that the Air Force Civil Engineering FY2020 goals include restoring readiness through people and modernizing systems. The Air Force is readier and smarter and looking to expand competitive options to power protection platforms and make cost-effective investments. A major effort underway for the service is the rebuilding of Tyndall AFB, Fla., which was devastated by Hurricane Michael. That effort presents an opportunity to capture lessons learned and innovative ideas about the “base of the future.”

Following the program briefings, the panel took questions from the audience and encouraged attendees to listen in on specific sessions that could further expound on programs, funding, and projects.

Featured Sessions in Focus

Army, Navy & Air Force Environmental Programs

Karen Baker, SES, Chief of the Environmental Division, HQ USACE, discussed environmental roles for USACE, which includes restoring impacted ecosystems, balancing mission requirements and environmental compliance, along with contributing to resiliency and sustainability. She also covered the expected budget, working with the Air Force on PFAS and Superfund work.

NAVFAC honed in on environmental restoration for the upcoming fiscal year. Robert Sadorra, P.E., Director of the Environmental Restoration Division, HQ NAVFAC, discussed ongoing environmental efforts and the need for industry support. NAVFAC has an acquisition strategy that includes providing the best contractual solutions and establishing a balanced and diverse contract “tool box” to address its many program requirements.

Col. Jason Campbell, P.E., USAF, Deputy Director, AFCEC Environmental Directorate, gave a briefing on environmental quality. He laid out a detailed execution strategy, as well as acquisitions through the third quarter of 2019. For FY2020 and beyond, AFCEC expects around $282 million a year in funding. PFOS/PFOA mitigation remains a focus.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Army Installation Management Command, and Architect of the Capitol Programs

Col. Juan M. Saldivar, Jr., PMP, USA, Command Engineer, Army & Air Force Exchange Service, covered programs for the agency’s Real Estate Directorate. The directorate has over $55 million worth of smaller projects in planning. Col. Saldivar stressed that his department is interested in doing business with companies even if they are not currently in the pool of contractors.

Scott Dias, Acting Chief, Construction Division, Operations Directorate, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, shared infrastructure investment initiatives with attendees. Dias said that many Army buildings standards need to be upgraded and this would be a focus for quarters 1-4. However, MILCON funding is undecided at this point.

Col. Peter Mueller, P.E., F.SAME, USA (Ret.), Director, Planning & Project Management, Architect of the Capitol, gave the break down of the agency’s programs. The Architect of the Capitol sits under the legislative branch and has 35 facilities for which it is responsible. Last year, it managed $1.3 billion in projects on Capitol Hill, which had 3 million visitors. Companies that are interested in working with the Architect of the Capitol may have contracts from historic preservation, to energy and sustainability, to site security. One the of the attractive things about working with the agency is that while its best practices include small business guidelines and parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, however it is not subject to the same requirements. Upcoming work will include architecture and engineering, facility assessment contracts, multiple award construction contracts and construction management projects. It also expects contracts for Supreme Court buildings.

Networking Keynote Luncheon

The luncheon keynote speaker was The Honorable Robert McMahon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment. He shared with the audience his story on discovering the impact of SAME and learning about its support of military service and emphasis on architecture and engineering. He shared the idea that an engineer has vision and is sustained by his ability to see what know one else can, as he told a story of being in Kuwait and participating in the “Friday Night Fights.” During these video communications between senior and junior engineer officers, he could see evidence of the mission going forth. Even in uncomfortable weather, despite war, and logistics of moving people in and out of difficult places, engineers would still achieve despite  all else.

Assistant Secretary McMahon stated that vision and tenacity underscore what has been done, what is being done, and what he is calling on engineers to do these days. He insisted: there are challenges and opportunities. Everyone can help by answering one question. Can you make a difference? Can you create resilient installations, provide cybersecurity, eliminate threats to our energy sources, minimize impacts of weather and climate, and stop threats to our water supply? Can you provide solutions that are new?

USACE Civil Works Program

This summer, USACE Districts over the county will see changes in leadership said James Dalton, P.E., SES, Director of Civil Works, HQ USACE. Dalton told the audience the Mosul Dam project in Iraq will wrap up in July 2019 and then there is a plan to revolutionize the USACE Civil Works program. Upcoming efforts include a $15 billion budget for emergency services, a trial of P3s, and strong consideration of permitting and regulatory reform.

Edward Belk Jr., P.E., Chief for Civil Works Programs Integration Division, HQ USACE, then provided an update on specific areas of the Civil Works, mostly dealing with water. The bulk of the work is navigation and supplement construction projects is where the agency needs industry’s help with new approaches to change thinking.

Thomas Smith, P.E., Chief for Civil Works Operations and Regulatory Division, HQ USACE operational discussed the operations and regulatory update. USACE owns more than $200 billion in infrastructure. It is critical that we begin taking care of what we already have. Waterways are a good example. USACE needs innovation in the way it completes those types of projects. Another big area of focus is hydropower and several new initiatives going forth for permits.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection and U.S. Forest Service Programs

Mike Germinario, P.E., CCM, Director of Facilities Planning & Budget, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), presented an overview detailing border operations and area of responsibility. The agency uses TRIRIGA, a facility lifecycle management tool to address the real property under their control. The tool helps with project management, space administration, operations and maintenance, environmental and energy aspects, as well as historical data.

For the near term, CBP has several regional projects planned in areas such as Seattle, San Juan, San Diego and Charleston, S.C. Long-term initiatives include several other U.S. cities. As for funding, CBP in collaboration with the General Services Administration, has been authorized to conduct a five-year pilot program allowing CBP to enter into public-private partnerships for some services.

This year, attendees also had a chance to hear about U.S. Forest Service engineering programs from Ehab Hanna, Acting Director of Engineering, Technology & Geospatial Services, a first-time speaker at the event. He covered timber extraction technology and some of the challenges of maintaining infrastructure assets. The estimated program budget is $366 million. Allocations include roads and bridges along with facilities maintenance.

The Forest Service also manages the National Technology &Development Program and the Geospatial Technology & Applications Center, where focuses are on testing of repellents, retardants and life-saving fire safety techniques, especially in the case of climate events such as wildfires, major storms and flooding.

Marching Ahead

After a day of briefings and interaction with government leaders, attendees gathered for a networking happy hour with colleagues and new contacts. No doubt the message of a willingness from military and government agencies to forge partnerships and work with industry carried over into conversations throughout the week.

For more information on the sessions, access the session presentations on the Capital Week website. To view additional photos and images, visit SAME’s Flickr page.