The Engineers Club, Baltimore, Md. – Over 270 engineers and project managers from the contractor community received in-depth updates on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, missions and how to improve the contractor-government business relationship at an event hosted by the Society of American Military Engineers, Baltimore Post, on Dec. 19.
Col. Trey Jordan, Commander and District Engineer, emphasized the impact of new leadership, both his in Baltimore and Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick who was confirmed as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year. “We are a piece of the Army,” Jordan emphasized as he noted a key component of the Chief’s guidance. Four parts of Lt. Gen. Bostick’s priorities include Supporting the Warfighter, Transforming Civil Works, Preparing for Tomorrow, and Managing Disaster Risks, a subject where he had fresh experience. Col. Jordan described his recent temporary duty assignment in New York to lead part of the USACE response to FEMA taskings following Superstorm Sandy. Corps missions included unwatering multiple commuter tunnels in New York City and debris removal.
In Baltimore, the District surveyed the shipping channel into Baltimore Harbor to determine if any additional silt would impact traffic. The district also removed debris from the federal channel with the help of a $1.1 million contract.
Col. Jordan reminded the audience of the historical and continuing need for support from the contractor community. For the Baltimore District, he pointed out projects including building the Cumberland Road (in 1811), the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (1834) and the Pentagon in 1941. “USACE has always been committed to the contractor community,” he said. In broad terms, he said the Corps of Engineers has about 30,000 civilians (led by a contingent of Army officers) and that there are about 300,000 civilians working on Corps projects.
The district also relies on the architect/engineering community to complete its mission. Totals for FY12 show that the district spent $523 million on construction contracts with an additional $37 million contracted out for design work (a small percentage of the design work is done by Corps employees). “We rely on folks like you to make it happen,” Jordan said.
The packed house in the Engineers Club conference room represented construction, engineering, and environmental firms and developers, large and small, from Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region. Each briefer presented details that outlined upcoming projects that will go out for bid in 2013 and expected projects for later years.
To increase knowledge, project awareness and to foster a better relationship with the contractor community, the briefings were later posted on the SAME website.
For instance, Frank Benvenga, Chief, Programs and Project Management Division-Military, noted that the district expects an approximately $1.95 billion workload from FY13 and later years. This work will cover the 12 military installations, in six states and the District of Columbia, within the Baltimore District’s area of responsibility.
Each of the briefers moved quickly through their data, photo and graph-filled slides and then responded to questions. A key goal centered on transparency and how to contact the right Corps representative for information and to answer questions.
It wasn’t all about projects – one briefer presented several slides that centered on contractors submitting proposals that contained significant, but fixable, problems. Tamika Gray, the District’s small business advocate, highlighted shortcomings in proposals that had a negative impact on government considerations. This included typos, cut and paste from other proposals, mathematical errors and poor quality documentation.
Both Col. Jordan and Ms. Gray emphasized the www.fbo.gov (Federal Business Opportunities or FedBizOpps) is the key source for information on USACE projects.