ArchiveARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
The Army Corps of Engineers New York District moved boldly to cut red tape should a barrier island protecting the Long Island shore be threatened with an imminent breach. The procedure, embodied in a novel Breach Contingency Plan (BCP), slashes Corps reaction time from a traditional six -12 month period to just 10 days. And, while sealing barrier island breaches faster, the procedure also does so more cheaply.
Fundamental to the system is a streamlined procedure for delegating responsibility and authority to the non-federal sponsor (New York State) and the New York Engineer District, plus an accelerated contracting process.
In the past, the Corps could act only if asked by the governor of New York after a declaration of emergency signified that all state resources were exhausted. In response, the Corps would prepare a report justifying federal participation in emergency work. This report went to Corps Headquarters in Washington for review. If approved, the Corps would prepare plans and specifications and negotiate a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the state. Following approval of the PCA, a construction contract would be advertised and awarded. In a typical case, Pikes Beach in Westhampton, NY after the 1992 Northeaster, it took six months to approve the report and award a contract, and five more months to effect final closure of the breach. In the interim, the breach -- initially 50 feet wide and six inches deep, had grown to 3000 feet wide and 20 feet deep.
Under the BCP, the Corps carries out an upfront analysis of potential breach locations, economic evaluation and a complete environmental assessment. Divided into three phases, the BCP procedure relies on the Corps preparing a fact sheet which declares the existence of an emergency and provides site-specific details, including condition, location and proposed solution. The process is advanced by an accelerated contracting process which, in an emergency, can be implemented in a week. A PCA would delegate the district to act with the State in funding the emergency action.
Since the inception of the BCP, several storms have hit Long Island. The Federal and state governments, after extensive coordination, are now comfortable with their roles. The state accepts that under normal overwash conditions, it will assume responsibility to maintain integrity of the barrier island. The New York District is prepared to act swiftly when required to minimize cost of emergency action.
Development of a Family Housing RFP at Whiteman AFB required that District personnel make decisions on the spot to ensure a well defined scope of work within a short amount of time. This new procedure allowed the District to incorporate the customer's needs and requirements immediately, as well as obtain information and resolve issues in a short time frame. To meet the short suspense, the team outsourced administrative support. The whole process for Whiteman used a "back to basics" concept employing a minimum number of personnel and equipment required to perform the tasks.
Development of the RFP for a utility infrastructure improvement project at Kirtland AFB confirmed the viability and the effectiveness of the process used at Whiteman AFB. Through a team effort between Little Rock and Albuquerque Districts, a water system RFP package was developed, with both a reduction in the time and money required to produce a quality product.
Through the initiatives of Federal employees and the cooperation of our customers, the Albuquerque District has expanded its pallet of services.
This unprecedented cooperative agreement will have positive results for the regional public, Mesa Tech faculty and students, and the Corps of Engineers. The partnership will expand the curriculum for Mesa Tech students and enhance recreation services for some half million visitors to Conchas each year. It should also boost the local economy and service to the public.
The 25-year lease was signed in February 1996 and the college plans to have facilities open by Memorial Day. The college will invest in repairing and upgrading the resort area, which is valued at $3.5 million. The school will focus on maintenance, administration, marketing, and support staff requirements to get the area open and running for the upcoming peak recreational season and into the future. In turn, the Corps of Engineers will provide expertise in recreation resources and assist the college in expanding its curriculum to include biology, engineering services, resort management, business administration, heavy equipment operation and a host of other career building opportunities for students.
The college will be able to use several of its established educational programs, such as diesel and automotive technology, to repair and maintain vehicles and equipment. Any profits earned by the college during the first five years of operating the southside resort area will be recycled back into the area for further improvements.
The resort area Mesa Technical College will operate includes a lodge, restaurant, golf course with pro shop, convenience store, marina, storage facility, and campsites. The recreation area has been largely closed down for the past year due to the lack of a concessionaire. This arrangement will now re-open these facilities, helping to provide quality recreation facilities in a family oriented setting
In addition, the Baltimore District has opened new lines of communication with its regulatory program customers. These include the publishing of a quarterly news bulletin and increasing the service capabilities of our field offices. These improvements meet the Administration's Reinventing Regulation goal of the National Performance Review.
Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, all dredging and fill work in the "waters of the United States"--including wetlands, requires a permit from the Corps of Engineers. The general permit authorizes the government of DuPage County, Illinois, to review projects regulated under Section 404, excluding only those projects sponsored by county-level agencies, such as the DuPage County Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Concerns, or the DuPage County Forest Preserve.
DuPage County's regulatory authority derives from the DuPage County Stormwater and Floodplain ordinance, originally approved by the county government in 1990. The Ordinance is a comprehensive document covering all water-related issues, including wetlands.
The general permit will reduce the duplication of regulatory review at different levels of government while adequately protecting the aquatic resources of DuPage County. The current Department of the Army permit program and the DuPage County Ordinance both regulate activities in wetland areas, and the review of both agencies is essentially the same. The general permit will lead to increased efficiency of operations by reducing the time Chicago District staff spend reviewing projects in DuPage County.
The general permit will empower DuPage County to make decisions involving the wetland resources of the county, and to better integrate wetland issues into other water-related issues such as flood control, wildlife habitat, wildlife habitat, riparian issues and water quality.
The contract documents included over 10,000 sheets of drawings and 5,400 pages of specifications with reference to hundreds of industry standards, codes, and military and federal specifications. The design review alone was an immense undertaking. Teams of Architect-Engineer firm representatives, Corps specialists, and BAMC's Health Facilities Planning Agency staff met for days to solve the challenges faced in designing such a complex facility.
The major contributing factor to the success of the new BAMC has been partnering. Partnering is a challenge in the construction industry where parties sometimes have conflicting objectives. At times, these conflicts become adversarial. With that in mind, the Fort Worth District commander at the time, Colonel John Mills, committed everyone on the project up front to partnering.
Partnering contributed to many initiatives. One of those created the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Oversight Committee for the project. With local community organizations, labor unions, the Corps' Resident Office and the contractor, in cooperation with the Department of Labor, this committee initiated educational and on-the-job training programs, information exchange and an active involvement of labor unions. This labor involvement by all parties resulted in the very first Corps contractor to receive the U.S. Department of Labor's "Exemplary Voluntary Efforts Award."
On a project of this scope, it is common practice to employ the services of the designer to address issues that arise during construction. An on-site representative from the designing Architect-Engineer firm stayed on-site at the resident office to assist in addressing issues. The fort Worth District Engineering Division also provided a full-time representative to the project, who administered the A-E contract and acted as liaison to the district office for other types of support. The grand opening of new BAMC was held March 14, 1996.
The Design Branch of Engineering Division applied innovative design approaches the Marmet Lock Replacement Project, on the Kanawha River near Charleston, WV. The proposed changes in design will reduce the $243 million project cost by an estimated $50 million. In addition to saving cost on the Marmet Project, the concepts were applied to the District's Winfield Lock Replacement Project currently under construction farther downstream on the Kanawha. This will result in a $4 million cost savings.
The Marmet design changes have been exported to other Corps of Engineers districts. The Detroit District anticipates that they will be able to use design ideas acquired from Huntington and Louisville Districts to reduce the cost of their anticipated Soo Lock Project by $200 million.
Adopted Marmet design changes include: 1) increased sheet pile driving distance to limit excavation, 2) a 1,080 foot reduction in the guide wall length, 3) reuse of sheet piling from temporary cofferdam structures, 4) elimination of the emergency lock closure capability, 5) replacement of beams in the guard wall with flow skirts, 6) reductions in the scope of helper boat assistance required during construction, 7) use of acquired instructions as temporary operation facilities during construction, and 8) reductions in the number of mooring facilities provided and substitution of floating buoys for the mooring cells. Proposed changes include 1) a bottom filling and emptying system that allows the lock walls to be built of roller-compacted concrete, 2) an anchored master-pile upstream guidewall instead of concrete-filled cells, and 3) post-tensioned box beams for the guard walls allowing for longer spans and requiring half as many concrete-filled cells.
These innovative design changes were featured in Engineering News-Record, and that publication named John Clarkson, chief of Huntington District's Structural Section, as one of its top 25 newsmakers of the year.
Elsewhere in Huntington District, Major Roger Wilson, Planning Division team leader for a study of a $50 million flood reduction project in Martin County, KY, recommended changes that reduced a scheduled 38 month study by six months and reduced the study cost of $1.8 million by $600,000. The streamlined study approaches recommended by the planning team have been adopted in the district for future studies and have been shared with other Corps districts.
Under an ESPC, the contractor provides the design, capital investment, construction, and operation and maintenance of energy-efficient equipment, products, or systems. The contractor's earnings come from the resulting energy savings, which are shared with the Government. The total savings over the life of five ESPC's awarded by Huntsville is $104,453,370, with savings to the Army of $28,198,907.
Huntsville's ESPC is also a time saver, a feature that makes customers happy. The Center streamlined the ESPC process last year, reducing the contract development and award time from 18 to 8 months. To achieve that reduction, Huntsville assigned a senior engineer as the single point-of-contact from the start to finish of each ESPC project.
Huntsville Center also partnered with the contracting community to find innovative ways to reduce the contractor's cost of doing business. "While staying within legal guidelines, we just did what seemed to make sense," says Bobby Starling, program manager at Huntsville Center. As a result of the partnering, ESPC contractors now submit a resume instead of an expensive bid package, a change that not only saves contractors money but has resulted in more bids and more competition. Huntsville Center plans to reduce contract development costs even more by broadening the scope of ESPC's so that multiple installations can benefit from the savings a single contract generates.
Another source of efficiency and customer focus is found in Huntsville's execution of the contract. Engineers at Huntsville Center are empowered to provide customers with single point-of-contact service for each project from conception to completion of construction. Such an arrangement leads to clear and immediate communication among the installation, the contractor, and Huntsville. Problems are solved within hours, not days or weeks or months.
Through this unique contract, a true partnership has been formed between the customer at the installation, the contractor, and Huntsville Center. Because of its success, this contract is being expanded so that even more installations can reap the benefits.
Why teams? "The things I've seen done well in organizations tended to be by small groups of folks, with each person bringing some needed skill to the effort," says the Center's commander, Colonel Walter J. Cunningham.
Huntsville formed its first team around its Ordnance and Explosives Program, a complex, long-term task requiring multiple skills, judgments, and experiences. Instead of pulling employees from various in-house departments to perform ordnance functions on a part-time basis, Huntsville created an Ordnance and Explosives Team of employees fully dedicated to the work. The main purpose of the switch is to focus on customer needs by reducing red tape and traditional corporate barriers that create inefficiency. "Energy is wasted moving across those barriers," Cunningham explains.
What are some energy savers generated by teams? Teams streamline communications because the hierarchical structure is flattened. Teams transfer responsibility to the lowest possible level, reducing resource-consuming approval chains. Teams, because they are self-directed, reduce the number of middle managers needed. For example, Huntsville's Ordnance Team has over sixty employees organized into smaller "sub-teams," all under one director. Teaming requires fewer supervisors, since work performance is also evaluated by co-workers and customers. Finally, teaming taps latent creativity. As one Huntsville team member put it, "The transition to teams has released tremendous energy. Teaming not only allows people to contribute; it requires them to."
In the vast majority of cases, the contractor need only provide a work plan instead of a full design, a process similar to what the commercial sector uses. Under this program, the Huntsville Center has awarded five contracts, with delivery orders that are either time and materials or firm fixed price. The, achieving savings and improved service to the customer in the following ways:
- For urgent work, a delivery order contract can be awarded to a contractors on a time and
material basis, enabling the contractor to begin work on the project right away. In many cases, the contractor is already performing other work on the installation and can begin work as soon as the delivery order is received.
- For work that is not an emergency, most delivery order contracts can be negotiated and
awarded on a firm fixed price basis within a short period of time, reducing project and contract management costs.
- Simple sketches can generally be used in the work plan, eliminating the time and expense
of preparing engineering drawings.
Under A360, each employee receives input on 30 rating elements from 16 people. The elements are organized into five categories: organizational vision, team participation, integrity and dignity, job knowledge and skills, and continuous improvement. The elements are uniform for each supervisory and nonsupervisory employee. Ratings are provided anonymously by each rater, calculated through an automated program, and then returned to the rated employee as a composite score for each element on a scale from 2 to 10. Employees, together with their supervisors, then develop a plan for improving weak areas of performance.
A360 has many benefits for employees. First, employees are empowered through broader participation in the appraisal, since ratings from co-workers and subordinates have equal weight with supervisors ratings. Also, the A360 system more clearly ties organizational success to awards. Furthermore, because of anonymous feedback from a variety of people, employees have more objective information that they can use to improve their performance. Finally, A360 promotes teamwork, since employees are evaluated directly by the people they work with.
A360 also benefits customers. First, customers are part of the rating process. Their rating input plus the opportunity to provide individual comments on each rated employee gives voice to a customer service focus. Moreover, A360 rewards employees for customer service excellence.
To check for bias, Huntsville first tested the system on 45 senior-level managers. Results showed that four ratees would have received higher overall ratings under the A360 system than under the traditional appraisal system, and five would have received lower overall ratings. In a second test of work-level employees, twelve would have received higher overall ratings under A360 and four would have received lower overall ratings. A statistical analysis of the ratings from both tests indicates no apparent patterns of bias based on age or sex.
To look for solutions, Huntsville Center empowered a small group of working-level employees who assembled a cross-functional government-contractor team. That team's solution is built on Geographic Information System (GIS) computer software used to manage data such as mapping features, property ownership, and natural resources. To enhance GIS capabilities, the Huntsville team developed the ordnance GIS Knowledge Base module, a software tool that actually generates new data from the remote-sensing data and data from previous ordnance removals (such as ground truth). Those new data include an estimate of the depth and size of buried objects and whether the objects are likely to be UXO or just junk. The goal is to zero in on and excavate only the hazardous UXO and leave the benign items for other, more cost effective cleanup methods.
The Knowledge Base is a working product that outperforms other UXO discrimination techniques developed by either industry or traditional government research and development organizations. It is a team solution that saves the customers' time and money while reducing the risk of exposing people to hazardous UXO.
Kansas City District staff members joined in a Process Action Team to identify and fix repair problems with powerhouse turbines that had existed, due to the inability of a contractor to deal with the problems, since 1985. Empowering district employees to identify and fix the repair problems resulted in three of the six units placed back on line and the promise to have all six turbines repaired by 1997, at a cost savings of $1,144,780.
Continuing Authorities projects, unlike most civil works projects, do not require congressional approval. They use less than $5 million of federal funds for each project.
Several different types of projects fall under the Continuing Authorities Program. These include emergency repairs to streambanks and shorelines, small beach erosion control projects, Section 107 Small Navigation Projects, projects to mitigate shore damage at federal navigation projects, small flood control projects and snagging and clearing for flood control.
One example of what the program can accomplish is a Section 14 project in Judsonia, a small town located in north central Arkansas.
"Judsonia is a great example of cooperation by the city, state and Corps," said Julia Smethurst of the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District. "The sewage lagoon levee was in danger of collapsing into the river, and the city did not have the money for its share of the project costs. The next flood event on the Little Red River had the potential for dumping sewage into the river."
The State Office of Emergency Services paid the city's share because of the emergency situation.
"This project involved lots of teamwork to speed up the process of getting land acquisition, contracting and construction underway," Smethurst said. She commended the district's Real Estate, Construction-Operations, Contracting, and Engineering Divisions, and Office of Counsel, Finance and Administration for "jumping" to make it happen. Another project involved a streambank on the Current River that had eroded dangerously close to Arkansas Highway 211.
The Corps awarded the construction contract in July 1994 and the $333,000 project was completed the following October. Costs were shared with the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, said Chris Hicklin, chief of Little Rock's Project Reports Section.
Flood Control, or "Section 205" projects are another aspect of Continuing Authorities. Brenda Puloma, a Little Rock Planning Division engineer, managed the Crooked Creek Project.
"Crooked Creek runs through downtown Harrison," Puloma said. "The purpose of the project was to clear and grubb the creek to allow water to pass quickly and prevent flooding."
Construction on the $1.1 million project started in March 1994 and is slated to be complete this month depending on the weather, Puloma said
The construction supervision on this project was handled through the Mountain Home Resident Office.
Puloma said the benefit to cost ratio for annual flood reduction is 4-to-1, with an average annual flood reduction of $919,000.
The city of Harrison decided to improve Minnie Harris Park with a manmade fishing area made possible by a fishery mitigation weir installed by the Corps of Engineers.
"The city has been working with the Corps on and off for the past 15 years to come up with the right formula to make flood control and recreation a reality," said Frank Gelinas, engineer for the city of Harrison. He believes the quality of the Corp's plans and designs enabled the city to pass a one-cent sales tax to fund the park.
"It has been an absolute pleasure working with the project manager, Brenda Puloma, rather than several people," Gelinas said." The Resident Engineer, Jack , and other engineers from Mountain Home were super to work with. The Corps people were very service oriented and the city is appreciative of the quality of work that was done."
Continuing Authorities Projects are popular with customers because the cost sharing and cooperation enable small cities to make improvements they could not otherwise afford.
Not content to rest on their laurels, the members of the Continuing Authorities team are working to streamline the process.
The Task PAT was formed in November 1993, to determine the cause of increasing solid and liquid waste removal costs in parks at the Beaver and Table Rock projects of the Upper White River.
A task PAT is a cross-functional task team formed to study a specific problem that is assigned to them. PAT members represent a cross-section of people from the different projects and functions.
"Solid and liquid waste removal is such a large issue," said George Ann Tabor, a ranger at the Beaver Project Office. "We decided to focus first on the solid waste removal, because we had more information readily available on that issue from Table Rock."
Solid waste removal at Table Rock and Beaver parks is handled through two separate contracts. At Beaver Lake, the costs of solid waste removal were continuing to increase, while Table Rock's prices dropped some when the new contract was started.
The team's target was to reduce the cost of solid waste removal while maintaining the same level of customer service.
In the waste removal contracts, the Corps of Engineers was charged for each dumpster that a contractor picked up, whether it is full or not. Inspectors randomly checked 70 percent of the dumpsters during the April to September 1994 contract period and found most of them only partially full.
To solve the problem, the team developed a checklist that would help determine the size, number and location of dumpsters in relation to the layout of the parks as well as their pick-up schedule.
Under each heading on the checklist, the team identified several issues. When deciding how many dumpsters should be in a park, they suggested that project managers take into consideration the amount of park visitation, the physical layout of the park, the size of the park and the number of campers.
The checklist can easily be applied to any park. Using the list helps insure that all aspects of the dumpsters, from size to location, fit the needs the park.
"Instead of having eight locations with some small and some large dumpsters, having them picked up too often and having them located where it is inconvenient to the campers, we will be able to decrease the number of dumpsters, have them centrally located and emptied only once a week," Greg Oller, team leader, said. "That way we can almost insure that we will be getting our money's worth by picking up full dumpsters," Oller said.
The team's checklist was included in contracts for the 1995 recreation season. It is estimated that the changes saved the government about $40,000. "When you see that this team cut our spending from about $70,000 to just less than $30,000, I think it's pretty obvious that we had not been managing our resources well," said the manager of one of the parks.
The team also determined that park visitors needed to be educated about the location of the dumpsters through park maps, messages on the Automated User Permit System and park attendants.
It took the team less than three months to reach a solution to their assigned problem.
"We found the TQM process to be very effective," Team Facilitator Steve Franco said. "Once you are familiar with the process, it's not hard. All you do is follow the steps. Step one of the process, choosing the problem to study, was done for us. We just had to polish it up, and then we zoomed into step two."
The next step for the PAT was to study the liquid waste removal process. At Table Rock Lake, contracted pumping costs had risen from $21,240 in 1991 to $36,180 in 1994, a 70 percent increase in four years. At Beaver Lake, the cost more than doubled from $33,164 to $71,558 during the same period
The target for improvement called for a 40 percent reduction in cost of liquid waste removal from the parks. After determining the root causes--the scheduled number of pumpings and the increase in fees at area waste disposal plants--the team recommended installation of subsurface septic systems at all restroom facilities and trailer dump stations at the lakes. This included the installation of waterborne facilities which are currently vault systems. They also proposed to eliminate facilities at several locations, and modifying the contract to eliminate scheduled pickups and go to an "as needed basis" at Beaver Lake.
Cost of implementing the recommendations is estimated at $462,000. Based on a projected 40-year life expectancy of the installation, it would take about six years to recoup the initial installation costs, but savings over the following 34 years would be dramatic.
At the root of the problems was a reorganization of office functions in December 1993 which moved the function of service contract and facility maintenance from one branch to another. During 1994, complaints of worsening conditions in the parks and slow response times in correcting problems began to noticeably affect the parks' paying campers and day users.
This in turn began creating friction between personnel in the two branches. "Several heated arguments developed between employees in the two branches," said Ken Buck, Pine Bluff project manager. After reviewing limited park visitor survey data, the team discovered that most complaints from park visitors were generated by internal complaints from employees. A questionnaire given to affected Corps employees identified three potential problems areas -- reorganization, personal conflicts and reduced staffing. These three areas represented 72 percent of the complaints received for poor park appearance, slow response time and poor working relationships.
The team first thought that it had no authority or ability to make the needed changes in the areas of reorganization and reduced staffing. However, Buck challenged to the team to come up with valid organizational changes that would solve the manpower problems.
With this new empowerment, the team tackled the root cause of the problem -- reassignment and loss of personnel and individual personalities. With this positive approach, team members developed countermeasures. To deal with reduced manpower, they called for reassignment of maintenance functions to the Marine Terminal, establishing a clear scope of responsibility, and cross-training park rangers and civil engineering technicians in specification writing for construction and operations and maintenance contract administration.
Countermeasures for individual personality problems included improving working relations through counseling, and improving supervisors' employee management skills. "Since the recommended countermeasures were implemented, there have been absolutely no complaints this season, " Buck said."
The team estimated between $50,000 and $100,000 in first year savings through the combining of jobs assignments, more efficient maintenance operations, and the turn-in of two vehicles.
The intangible benefits include efficient team performance, improved service to park facilities thereby reducing user complaints, and a reduced number of supervisors per employee
TAQ is now in its third year in Little Rock District, and a large number of project office employees at Pine Bluff, Table Rock and Mountain Home have completed their training and are using the principles to solve real problems.
"TAQ is a way to train people who are interested in improving their work environment and to give them the tools and the freedom to address the necessary situations," said Richard Groves, Upper White River project manager. "This is the best money I've ever spent as a manager."
With TAQ, offices use task Process Action Teams to study problems assigned by management. This helps speed up the process, because the teams don't have to spend valuable time finding something to study. Task PATs are not only given a topic, but they also are given a time frame to complete the study.
There have been four task PATs at the Upper White River Project Office and one each at Mountain Home and Pine Bluff. All of the involved project managers agree that TAQ is both applicable and timely, especially in today's business climate of reorganization and change. "Once employees have learned how to conduct fact-based problem solving, they are able to think the process through in their everyday decisions," said Ken Buck, Pine Bluff project manager. "This will be a life saver with the eventual downsizing of the Corps."
Jack Rintoul, project manager at Mountain Home, also employs TAQ in everyday work. "What people are saying is that they want an informed decision to be made. They want data to be gathered and analyzed, they want facts presented," Rintoul said. "They want to determine how much room for improvement there is, look at costs versus benefits, and then decide what to do."
Groves has advice for other offices that are planning on beginning the TAQ journey. He suggests that managers make an environment that will encourage teams to accomplish their goals by giving them enough time to meet and gather information. "If you give TAQ a chance, it works, and works well," he said. "It will allow you to accomplish things you don't have the manpower or resources to do otherwise."
The electrical transformers of the Norfork, AR, switchyard sit on the bank of the Norfork River. In the event of a catastrophic accident, such as an earthquake or lightning strike, oil from the transformers could leak and contaminate the river. "If the tank ruptured, it would dump thousands of gallons of transformer-insulating oil into the river," Nearn said.
To prevent this potential hazard, the district submitted plans to redesign the oil containment system at the switchyard. As the two electricians reviewed the plans, however, they realized that the work would be dangerous, expensive, complicated and time consuming. "Because of the underground copper mat that grounds all of the electrical machinery in the switchyard, the project would have required hand excavation," McIlravy said.
The more the two men looked at the labor costs involved, the more convinced they became that they could find a better way to transport the oil.
Nearn and McIlravy submitted a suggestion to modify the existing design to avoid hand excavation. The solution involved using the existing cable tunnel for piping.
"Most of the money saved was in labor costs," McIlravy said.
Both Nearn and McIlravy found the recognition for their idea more rewarding than the money award that they also received. "Yes, the monetary award is nice, but you cannot beat the recognition. I am just happy to do anything to help the government save money," Nearn said.
In 1994, 71 ideas were submitted and approved in Little Rock District's Ideas for Excellence Program. Those ideas have saved the District $58,766 in tangible savings.
The review process, which involves looking at economic and service indicators for each park, was developed by a Total Army Quality Process Action Team. The team began working in November with a deadline of January to present their findings to the district's Quality Council. "We discovered that in the past, we have had a tendency to maintain the facilities that we have rather than adjusting and developing facilities into what the public wants and would use," explained a team member, who added that, by improving facilities that are heavily used by the public and revamping other facilities to meet the users' needs, the district could maximize the cost effectiveness of its facilities while increasing customer satisfaction.
The team developed a review process and scoring system that ranks parks based on usage, service and efficiency. The process uses statistics that can be found on the annual park usage report. "After researching, we found that funding was not the primary limiting factor of park operation and maintenance," the team member said. "Comparisons such as cost per visitor hour and cost per visitor show that some small parks that had been viewed as under-utilized actually cost very little to operate when compared to larger parks."
The team realized that comparing both the economics and the service and efficiency of a park would give the reviewers a more accurate picture of how the facilities are being used. Raters determine the five year average visitation to each project's parks and rank the parks. The park with the highest number of visitor hours gets a score of 50, the lowest gets zero.
Next the cost per visitor hour is found by subtracting each park's revenue from its operating costs and dividing the total by the visitor hours. The parks are ranked. The least expensive park gets a score of 50, the most expensive gets zero. A total score of 100 points is possible. For parks scoring below 50, the team recommends that the reviewers do a root cause analysis to determine the cause of the low rating.
A park's low rankings could be caused by a number of reasons including high maintenance costs, low revenue, remote location, and providing services that are not used by the public or insufficient services to meet users needs. After the cause of the problem is found, the project office will recommend the best course of action to correct it.
Potential solutions could include partnering opportunities with community groups, cooperative agreements with businesses operating on Corps property under lease agreements, relocating and consolidating existing facilities and developing improved park management efforts. The Little Rock process also involves the public through workshops which give PAT members a chance to lay out challenges, study findings and suggested solutions to the public and ask them to help find a workable solution. It's like partnering with the public.
The park review process is currently being implemented. It is expected to take seven months to review, rank and suggest changes or improvements for the district's 205 parks. While the process will take time to implement and begin seeing results, district leadership supports the action. "I don't think there's another district in the Corps that comes close to what we are doing," said District Engineer Colonel Scott Morris. "I'm glad to see us applying business practices to our daily mission of supplying quality recreation services to our customers."
The study generated more than 20 cost-saving proposals. Ten proposals, with a combined savings of $1.1 million, were immediately accepted by the Air Force. By implementing the proposals, the Air Force will see a return of more than 36 to 1 on their investment. Four additional proposals are still under consideration. If approved and implemented, they could save another $400,000. "The advantage of doing the VE study early in the design process is the minimal costs of implementing the team's recommendations because of the small amount of design work that has been completed," said Mark Thompson of Little Rock District's Engineering Division. "We also are able to recommend changes in basic project strategies and decisions before commitments are made.
"The ability to influence cost constantly decreases as more
and more design and decisions are completed and locked in. Our
return on investment ratio for VE studies is much greater when
accomplished early in the design process." The Little Rock
AFB project consists of two
C-130 Squadron Operations Facilities of about 46,000 square feet each. The facilities will provide space for flight crew training, administration offices and the repair and storage of aircraft parts and life-sustaining equipment. Also included in the project is construction of a new Petroleum Operations Facility of about 6,000 square feet. Some of the proposals included re-siting the Petroleum Operations Laboratory and refueling yard, reusing existing pavement and changing parking configurations.
"This is one of very few VE studies the Air Force Command has funded nationwide," said Jack Woolfolk, chief of Engineering Division. "We hope the success of this study will serve as a catapult to get the Air Force into the VE arena." Value Engineering is a five-phase process using applied creativity to generate proposals that satisfy user needs with a quality product that is produced at the lowest life cycle cost. The information phase of value engineering gives team members an understanding of the project by defining its function. Then, during the speculation or brainstorming phase, team members use creative thinking and synergy to provide alternative design ideas.
"The brainstorming phase allows free-thinking and teamwork to generate some excellent ideas" said Paris Embree of Little Rock District's Engineering Division. The team generated more than 40 proposals during this phase. In the analysis phase some proposals are eliminated, and the remaining alternatives evaluated and ranked. The development phase prepares recommendations and defines all of the advantages and disadvantages of each. The presentation phase is when the proposal is presented to the customers. The presentation for the Little Rock AFB project was made September 25, 1995 at LRAFB and was attended by VE team members and Air Force representatives.
"The presentation couldn't have gone any more perfectly," said Project Manager Jim Pfeifer. "The Air Force representatives were excited about the potential of some of the proposals and extended the meeting to allow time to go back over each individual proposal. By the end of the meeting we had a decision on all the major proposals."
Value engineering has been used in the Corps of Engineers for several years, but it will become a bigger part of how it does its job in the future. In today's business environment where customer satisfaction and "working smarter, not harder" is being stressed, VE will become an important tool that will help the district as well as our customers.
Using what they call a "cooperating, non-traditional approach," the St. Francis Levee District, a local landowner and the Memphis District are working together to solve a problem that has dogged this area for over two decades.
The area first experienced problems during floods that devastated the area in 1973. When the Mississippi River rose out of its banks, high flood velocities began scouring huge holes out of the river bank and washing away valuable farm land. Some of those holes are now more than 60 feet deep, and over 80 acres of land have been washed away. Left unchecked, the erosion could eventually threaten the safety of the Mississippi River mainline levee. Various piecemeal efforts had been tried, but nothing seemed to be able to stop the river's onslaught. A big solution to a big a problem was needed.
With these concerns in mind, levee district officials, J.C. Ellis (the local landowner) and the Corps of Engineers sat down to develop such a plan. Mr. Ellis volunteered to take another 80 acres of land out of production, so the levee district could plant 16,000 cottonwood tree cuttings along the river and around the perimeters of the scour holes. In addition to supplying most of the funds for the cottonwood cuttings, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also provided technical assistance and produced project plans. As the 16-inch-high cuttings mature, they will form a screen to help maintain the integrity of the bankline, protect the levee and prevent more devastating scouring action during future floods.
Beyond the flood control and navigation benefits, the reforestation will also provide edge and cover habitat, and food for wildlife. When mature, the trees will enhance the environment by creating diversity and providing a valuable stand of hardwoods for the area. Jake Rice, assistance engineer for the St. Francis Levee District, was impressed with how the project has come together. "We sometimes have this picture of the government being slow to respond to public needs. But in this case, the Corps of Engineers, the levee district and the landowner worked together quickly and efficiently to solve a serious problem. It's been a WIN-WIN-WIN situation," he said.
Dredging is vital to maintain navigation at port facilities nationwide. Sites for dredged material placement are critical to the nation. In Norfolk Harbor, Craney Island is the least costly, environmentally acceptable site for dredged material placement in Hampton Roads harbor. Craney Island is rapidly filling. Without Craney Island, severe economic hardship would impact the region.
The immediate customers of Craney Island are 119 users (industries, shipyards, marinas, shipping companies, railroads, cities, Port Authority, Navy and other Federal agencies who place dredged material at the site). Other beneficiaries include users of the Hampton Roads harbor which is viable due to Craney Island. The regional benefits are huge: Norfolk is a 362 year old port ranking third in the nation in international trade. A large part of the local economy exists because of the port which relies on an economically viable dredging program.
Norfolk District employees have developed a set of vertical strip drains (plastic strips surrounded by fabric) to increase Craney Island's capacity. As a result, the actual direct cost savings to customers of Craney Island will be nearly 1/2 billion dollars over the next 30 years. Craney Island will insure the continued viability of the Ports of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Newport News, and the largest naval complex in the world. A 1-1/2 million dollar, effort of foundation investigation, brainstorming, design effort, and pilot studies, resulted in a project to place strip drains at the site. These drains will improve foundation conditions; allow the site to be raised; and increase storage capacity by millions of cubic yards.
This project is funded from the Energy and Water Development Appropriation and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund; however, approximately 60% of the cost will be returned to the treasury through tolls and fees charged to users of Craney Island.
A Barracks Renewal project at Fort Lee, VA, saved over $2.4 million from the $18 million project as a result of value engineering. The 26 proposals for savings which were accepted by the design team included revising interior and exterior finishes, reconfiguring room layouts, revising interior/exterior wall construction, simplifying electrical distribution, reducing fixtures in rooms and revising heating and air conditioning systems. The project is under construction.
Norfolk District's Value Engineering gave the family housing project at Fort Monroe, VA, a savings of over $900,000 on the $12 million project. The Value Engineer team for this project included a historical expert who provided information on restoring the historical buildings at the fort. Accepted proposals included repairing windows instead of replacing them, reorienting bathrooms, performing chemical stripping of paint on the job site, repairing wood columns instead of replacing all columns, installing gas-fired boilers instead of hot water boilers, providing electric meters in multiple housing units, and making electrical improvements. The team's plan was reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office, which has authority over the buildings' restoration.
The Radford Army Ammunition Plant Acid Wastewater Treatment System was the third Norfolk District project cited in the report. Over $12 million was saved on the $25 million project. The Value Engineer team, including representatives from Radford, Hercules, Inc. and Picatinny Arsenal, came up with a savings plan that included elimination of some processing systems, reducing the size of process tanks, eliminating one line from the waste water system which eliminates the need for a sludge handling system, and revising the criteria for tank construction.
Employees Rescue Cost Of Ship Repair Through "Wet Dock". Through innovative project management and the desire to find better ways to do the job, the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District cut the annual cost of overhauling the dredge WHEELER by almost $7 million over three years.
Until 1992, the WHEELER, the Corps largest and most productive hopper dredge, averaged $9 million in annual maintenance costs; but New Orleans District team members took a closer look at the contracting process and shaved off $4.5 million by deleting "foreseeable costs," an add-on cost in the bid evaluation process. "That was the first time that we know of where a master marine contract for the Corps of Engineers did not include foreseeable costs for a shipyard overhaul," said Jim Courville, chief of the district's Marine Management Section.
Richard Baldini, Physical Support Branch chief, explained that foreseeable costs penalized East Coast shipyards because of costs in time and fuel needed to move the WHEELER, usually from the Gulf to their drydock.
"Previously, Gulf Coast shipyards could inflate their prices and still be lowest bidders because of lack of competition," he said. "By deleting the foreseeable costs, eastern shipyards were able to successfully bid against Gulf Coast shipyards, increasing competition and lowering costs."
Lower costs also prompted the district to wet dock the WHEELER at New Orleans District this year and subcontract the work, netting another $2.5- million savings. Subcontracting meant coordinating 21 contracts, along with ship and shop workers. "It took tremendous effort on the part of the project managers and all the team players to pull this off," said Jim. Effort and fortuitous planning, he added.
Because the Coast Guard performed underwater inspection during last year's annual maintenance, it was not required again this year, giving the district the opportunity to wet dock the ship at our new wharf. "We didn't have the facilities to do the job last year," Jim said. "But the new wharf, built with the WHEELER in mind, is equipped with electricity and space for crane operations needed for this type of job."
Those features of the new wharf enabled the dredge to shut down its service generators which supply electricity to the ship. The service generators were overhauled, along with both propulsion engines and the two dredging engines. Work also included repairs to the valves, pumps, winches, hydraulic system, air conditioning plant, and the switchboard and electrical generators, in addition to annual servicing.
"We did what the shipyard's superintendent does," said Richard, referring to the subcontracting. "And we did a better job and did it on time."
Richard and Jim were both pleased with a hidden benefit of the wet dock and subcontracting efforts--the WHEELER left the district much cleaner than when it leaves the shipyard. "We experienced a quantum leap in the clean-up of the ship," said Jim. "A clean ship results in higher morale. The crew of the WHEELER is proud of the ship. They're able to welcome guests aboard and show off the plant."
The ship also underwent topside inspections by the Coast Guard, dock trials, sea trials as it sailed down the Mississippi, and test dredging once it reached Southwest Pass. There, the WHEELER spends most of its time, keeping the lower Mississippi River navigable.
In the Corps Nashville District, a volunteer park host program went a long way to defuse the situation. Volunteers at Lake Cumberland, TN, instituted and monitored an honor pay system, provided security and provided information to the public concerning the fee requirement. The park host at Fishing Creek oversaw the day use area, which included a boat ramp, beach and picnic area. This area is extremely popular and receives many visitors throughout the year. Fishing Creek had also had problems with rowdy visitor driving away the family-oriented visitor. The park host program there reduced undesirable day user incidents, making the area more desirable for family groups utilizing the area.
By the end of the first year of the fee program, the Nashville District office had received several positive comments from the public. One Nashville District project was able to collect over $10,000 in 1995, an increase of more that $4000.00 from the previous year. The presence of the park hosts and their positive public relations presence increased compliance with user fees from 50% to 90% without warning citations being issued by project Park Rangers.
Park hosts at Fall Creek, a previously free camping area with ten campsites, operated the campground, accepted reservations, sold ice and ensured that campers paid their fees at the honor box. These volunteers worked from April 1 through October 31 and saved the Federal government $21,700 that otherwise would have been required to hire a contractor park attendant. All park hosts were provided a full hook-up campsite and a hat and shirt patches to identify them as Corps Volunteers. They were asked to provide a minimum of twenty hours per week. Through their efforts, the public has enjoyed improved visits to Corps campgrounds and day use areas with fewer problems, especially rowdyism.
- All team members being aware of each other's work and resolving potential issues early.
- Elimination of the standard 30 day review period. All work was reviewed concurrently.
Each team member's parent division had to trust that other divisions knew how to use their product, thereby eliminating further reviews.
- The team leader was a first among equals, ensuring constant communication between team
Team members were empowered to make decisions within their technical expertise, and share them with the team. The role of supervisors was to provide guidance and ensure that the necessary resources were made available to the team members to accomplish their mission.
Another area of success for the study was the intensive coordination with congressional offices. These offices were treated as full members of the study team, and information was passed freely to ensure decision were made in a timely fashion.
Although the study was initially authorized for flood control alone, a great opportunity to restore the ecosystem was realized. The total plan now combines structural flood control with creation of habitat for important fish and wildlife species.
Coordination with the potential local sponsor, as required under the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, was started early. As a result of being included in the decision making, the local sponsor was willing and able to sign a Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement ahead of schedule, and have funding in place to start the feasibility phase of the study.. Local engineering firms were also contacted to gain their understanding of the problems of the study area. By understanding the area's problems and needs, as related to water resources, the study team had a clear idea of the problem, and was able to maintain a clear focus of what type of alternative solutions were needed.
The focus is to study, identify, and carry out improvements to the inland waterway navigation system of the Ohio Basin and the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. Our partnership is producing results in terms of better personnel utilization, goodwill, navigation improvements and process efficiency. Actions completed or underway include:
- The annual issuance of the "Notice to Navigation Interests" combines the Ohio River
Division, North Central Division, Missouri River Division, and seven district lock operating regulations into a simplified, shorter version that is user friendly for the navigation industry. Over 127 separate regulations were reduced to less than 10 pages. This navigation notice combines all requirements for the system, regardless of which district/division has responsibility, into one document, making regulation of the waterway system "seamless" to the industry. This notice is also provided to waterway users via the Internet World Wide Web.
- A customer survey of the navigation industry has been completed to determine their needs
and desires for information. Results from the survey were used to establish a new centralized mailing system which eliminated duplication and serious inefficiencies in the old mail distribution system. Potential for savings and improved customer relations is significant.
- A third initiative under this partnership agreement combined the annual Corps-Navigation
Industry-Coast Guard meetings held by several Corps divisions and districts. This resulted in a more unified approach to the system and saved industry and government time and travel expenses.
- The government-industry partnership also provides current information on the Internet
World Wide Web. A Navigation Information Connection "home page" has been established that provides current navigation reports, river stage forecasts, maintenance schedules, regulations, vessel location and other pertinent information to navigation interests.
Kwett's system -- the River Recreation Bulletin Board -- enables users from both the public and the private sectors to obtain real-time river information 24 hours a day. All that is required is a personal computer equipped with a modem. As a result of the positive response, Kwett expanded the system to include real-time water level, flow and water quality data for all reaches throughout the upper Ohio River basin. This system is meeting the information needs of an ever growing range of public and private industries as well as recreationists who utilize the waterways throughout the 26,000 square miles that comprise the Pittsburgh District.
Kwett introduced a second system utilizing the Internet and allowing the user to access a wide range of data through the Pittsburgh District's Water Control home page. This server allows the user to access such information as current river conditions, reservoir pool level and release forecasts, reservoir project information and bulletins.
Kwett's programs have saved time and dollars in addition to maintaining the highest level of service to the users. In its three years of operation, the Bulletin Board has logged over 14,000 telephone calls and currently has over 300 active users. During the peak summer months, the system logs 40-50 calls per day. The Water Control home page has seen increased usage since its inception seven months ago. Currently about 50 requests for information are received each day over the Internet.
During FY 1995, 2,403 volunteers completed nearly 31,000 hours of duty in jobs from clerical support and litter clean-up to wildlife management. Volunteers were active at 15 district reservoirs and in the District office. Active groups included the Pennsylvania Sportsmen for the Disabled, 4-H clubs, Department of Veteran's Affairs, Kinzua Fish, and Wildlife Association and numerous scouting, community and school groups. In addition to the groups, a number of individuals continued their long-running volunteer service. At Berlin Lake in Ohio, Chloe Dishong has logged a total of 13,474 hours of effort since her retirement as a clerk-typist in the District. Dishong performs various administrative duties at the project.
Another District retiree, Bob Oslick, has performed nearly 1,300 hours of service since he left the District in 1988. Oslick is a familiar face to folks in the District office with his twice-yearly sales of crafts and candy. Proceeds are donated to help fund the District's Special Recreation Days. Oslick also volunteers to assist with Natural Resources Section's Camp Sunshine and Environmental Youth Camp.
Armed with a special interest in the transportation history of the Conemaugh River corridor, William Dzombak has put in over 5,000 hours of volunteer work developing many different types of displays to relate that story. Dzombak's efforts have gone beyond just the conceptualization stage; he also constructed the displays and even prepared a standard dam tour book for use as a training tool.
Clearly it is with the help of the volunteer efforts of dedicated groups and individuals such as the few mentioned in this article that the Pittsburgh District continues to provide quality service to the public. This is becoming increasingly important as budgetary limitations grow. In fiscal year 1995, the monetary value of the Pittsburgh District's volunteer efforts totaled over $200,000.
By the mid-1980s, however, pedestrian and vehicular traffic were creating unsafe conditions. Use was increased by families with their small children on bicycles and scooters, the physically challenged, and the elderly taking their daily jaunts. The social aspect of "seeing and being seen" at the dam brought out more visitors--including teenagers in fast cars.
In 1984, a gate was installed at the beginning of the dam to limit vehicle access after 4 p.m. or when the road was crowded with pedestrians. This action brought raves from the customers--now this walkway was safe for families and they no longer had to look over their shoulders for oncoming cars. In 1985, a walk-around was added so customers did not have to straddle the gate to gain access to the dam. The walk-around was made large enough to accommodate bicycles and wheelchairs with ease. Word spread fast and even more customers of all ages were drawn to the now safer Woodcock Dam. In 1987, the parking lot was expanded to accommodate the increased usage and a water fountain for the physically-challenged was installed.
For several years before 1987, it was noticed that many visitors, especially the elderly and infirm, had no place to get off the narrow road surface to rest along the nearly one mile long dam. Plans were scrutinized and accepted and the project staff built two rest stations, placed strategically along the top of the dam. The sturdily built wood decks with benches now provide a safe haven for the weary.
All these additions were made possible by a responsible approach by the Corps of Engineers to provide a safe and accessible dam to the visiting public.
After extensive Corps review, technical assistance and interagency coordination, the dredging option was included in the City's contract advertisement for this work; and the successful low bidder, Buckley Construction, included the dredging method in their bid. The City of Philadelphia has reported a savings of $7,000,000 by using this source of fill material as compared to conventional upland sources.
In addition to the significant savings of public resources, the Corps-City partnership was able to eliminate the adverse environmental impacts and public inconvenience of transporting 2 million cubic yards of fill across State roadways. Furthermore, the City's removal of fill from the Federal channel by advance maintenance dredging will eliminate the need for the Philadelphia District to perform this work (estimated $8,000,000 savings) and allow them to pursue work in other high priority areas of the Delaware River shipping channel.
The BROS contract was awarded in 1989 and almost immediately encountered problems. The problems grew larger and more numerous until they came to a head in April 1993 when the District considered terminating the contractor for default. Termination would have been a great embarrassment to the contractor and the Philadelphia District, and a severe disappointment to our customers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region II (USEPA) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). If the contract had been terminated, a great amount of money would have been spent without making significant advancement in remediating the site and the USEPA's ability to ever complete the cleanup would have been severely hampered. As a result, in April 1993, the Philadelphia District Commander offered to partner the project with the contractor, providing the contractor displayed commitment to project completion. The contractor readily accepted. The decision to partner the project was perhaps the wisest move made by LTC Richard Sliwoski during his tenure as District Commander.
Partnering made the project a success story rather than a horror show. All parties associated with the project were involved in the partnering process: the USEPA and NJDEP as the customer, Philadelphia District as the USEPA's contractor, Ebasco Constructors Inc. (now Foster Wheeler Environmental Corporation) as the Corps remediation contractor, and the TAMS/E&E Joint Venture as the designers. The Partnering process focused on joint problem solving at the lowest possible levels without regard to organizational boundaries, easing of the adversarial relationships that were unproductive and created costly conflicts, and a "talk before you write" system of communication. The joint approach to problems resulted in their timely resolution and the elimination of new disputes and reduced the resource requirements of each organization. Easing of the adversarial relationships resulted in timely resolution of outstanding disputes. The "talk before you write" approach significantly reduced the amount of paperwork generated. Overall, the entire project management system was greatly improved.
The effect of partnering on the actual project execution and the attitudes of the employees was clear. After the initial Partnering conference in July of 1993, the quality of the work and safety performance improved significantly and the amount of material excavated and incinerated per month almost tripled. Work which had been estimated to be complete in 1998 was done by 1996. Individuals from all parties now enjoyed going to work because things were getting accomplished.
Without Partnering, the project would have been a much more expensive undertaking than it was. The Partnering approach to problem resolution resulted in the acquisition of an amphibious excavator to improve lagoon excavation. The Government was directing the contractor to build a land bridge across the lagoon when the contractor proposed this piece of equipment, which was unproven, as a means to do the job faster and more economically. A joint decision was made to go ahead, the equipment performed miraculously, and an estimated four million dollars in cost were saved. The Partnering approach also resulted in geotechnical innovation. As backfilling of the lagoon reached 50 percent, a soft, uncontaminated underlayer of sediment was encountered over which backfill could not be placed. The Government's geotechnical engineers developed a plan for strengthening and bridging over the soft sediments which was presented to the contractor. Again, a joint decision was made to go ahead, the plan was successful, and an estimated nine million dollars were saved by avoiding excavation of the soft material. Finally, because of Partnering, the project is going to be completed without any contract claims, avoiding expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Partnering at the BROS project showed how working together as a team, instead of against each other as traditional adversaries, can allow the Government and its contractors to solve problems quicker and more cost effectively. Without partnering, the BROS site would be tangled in paperwork and red tape, it would have cost the Government millions of additional dollars and the USEPA would not have a remediated site.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division continues to reorganize to streamline organizational entities to enhance processing. Reorganization of Technical Engineering Division, Design Division, and Quality Assurance Branch to form one unified Technical Division allows for design and review of projects under the guidance of a single technical discipline Branch Chief, and results in a supervisor/employee ratio of 1:14.6.
The Pacific Ocean Division (POD) Construction Division recently reorganized to abolish the Construction Management Branch and place the construction management responsibilities into the Resident Offices, resulting in a more horizontal organization and improving the way business is done by providing a greater degree of flexibility for the Resident Offices in resolving technical and contractual issues.
In 1995, the Pacific Ocean Division successfully consolidated all Civil Works (CW) programming and budgeting activities within one office resulting in an estimated annual savings of approximately $300,000 per year in personnel costs alone. As the single office of contact for CW, valuable time savings and efficiencies are realized by both internal and external customers.
As the central design/construction agent in Japan, the Corps of Engineers Japan District, part of Pacific Ocean Division, continually focuses on responsive and economical support for all military services. Examples include:
Requirements contracts that are economical and responsive tools, covering multiple installations' recurring type work (e.g. painting and paving). These contracts contain reasonable prices through economy of scale and simplified designs portraying well defined scope and existing conditions. Delivery orders are awarded within a day after receipt of funds.
A cross-organizational initiative to consolidate computer-assisted design and geographic information systems is being developed. Once completed, Pacific Ocean Division customers and users will share the same technical database from which all master planning, programming, plant/utilities survey, information storage, and retrieval and other electronic data services can be used, resulting in time and cost savings.
Japan District provides rapid emergency response to partners who do not have specialized technical resources readily available. Examples include assessment of earthquake damage of facilities at remote installations, including Misawa AFB, the Marine Corps Base at Camp Fuju, and the US Consulates' residence and office building following the Great Hanshin earthquake in January 1995.
The World-Wide-Web was added to the Division's existing Internet access capabilities, thereby providing the POD staff access to an unlimited number of resources including regulations, publications, and other valuable information on topics such as engineering, law, total quality management, NPR initiatives and information management.
Networking of CD-ROM drives allows the Pacific Ocean Division staff to access information on CD-ROM media, including publications, regulations, catalogs, information bases, and images. Networking reduced costs and man-hours by eliminating multiple subscriptions and reducing the time required to access information.
Participation in the Korean Cost Sharing Program to procure vehicles resulted in a cost savings of $264,655 during FY 1995. Continued participation will enable FED to realize a savings of $925,541 over 1996 and 1997.
The Far East District saved its Army and Air Force customers approximately $22M in
FY 1995 by providing potable groundwater through its well water maintenance and construction programs, and eliminating the need/cost of procuring expensive, off-base municipal water. These savings will be duplicated in FY 1996.
The first Process Action Team to complete its analysis implemented several process changes and recommended others which, combined, would provide an estimated first-year savings of $128,000 and a recurring annual savings of $142,000 in following years. The PAT reviewed the processes associated with purchasing under blanket purchase agreements (BPAs). As a result, the number of BPAs maintained by the district was reduced by 60 percent and replaced by increased use of the government credit card. This effort supports the NPR goals of empowering employees and reducing red tape.
The St. Paul District's Army Ideas for Excellence Program, meanwhile, continues to be highly successful. Estimated annual savings from suggestions approved for implementation during FY 1995 exceeded $220,000. The AIEP accomplishments include one suggestion on project status maps that was approved for implementation at every level including the House and Senate Energy and Water Development subcommittees. The suggestion recommended a change to the project status map format which allows the maps to be printed in black-and-white instead of color. This will produce an annual savings of an estimated $82,000 Corps-wide. This suggestion supports the NPR goal of putting customers first. The new maps can be reproduced directly in Congressional reports, faxed and even E-mailed. Printing the maps in black-and-white allows the Corps to be more responsive to requests from the Congressional subcommittees -- the customers.
The LOGCAP contract is a cost-plus award fee contract that uses a contractor to plan for, and perform when required, logistics and engineering services to augment U.S. forces during contingency operations. The contract was used in Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East, and Haiti. Most recently, it has been used to support NATO operations in the Balkans -- the largest application of LOGCAP effort to date, with an estimated cost of $400 million.
The contractor, Brown & Root Services Corp., provides basic life support services -- food, water, sanitation, shelter, and laundry; and the full realm of logistics services -- transportation, electrical, hazardous materials collection and disposal, fuel delivery, airfield and seaport operations, and road maintenance. Generally, the contractor is required to establish camps, then operate and maintain them. However, the level of service is determined solely by the Commander in the field.
LOGCAP has provided the Army with a highly flexible contractual means of providing quality of life services to troops deployed in some of the harshest environments in the world, without impacting its combat capability.
TheTransatlantic Programs Center (TAC) recently completed installing the hardware and software necessary to establish full-time Internet and e-mail capabilities for all its overseas offices and centers. This is part of our ongoing effort to support and empower our employees doing work overseas and to provide the best service possible to our customers. TAC operates construction project offices in Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Russia and provides oversight to the Transatlantic Programs Center, Europe, headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany. State-of-the-art technology now gives our field offices instantaneous communications with the headquarters here in the U.S. and allows them access to the world-wide information resources necessary to do their work. These tools also allow our overseas employees the ability to keep in close touch with their families via e-mail, providing them with an avenue of personal contact so vital to those stationed far from home.
During the Fall of 1994, in response to decreasing workload and customer demands for reduced costs, the Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Programs Center embarked on an ambitious program to reduce its cost of doing business. The Center took actions to reduce indirect labor costs in both support and production sections of the organization. There was also a concerted effort to reduce other overhead expenses, such as travel, communications, and lease costs. These efforts paid off in a significant reduction in rates charged to customers, for work managed by TAC headquarters personnel, of 13-20% (depending on type of work) from August 1994 to March 1996. This reduction was accomplished while absorbing two pay increases for employees. The outcome is that customers are receiving improved quality of design and construction management services from the Transatlantic Programs Center, at a labor rate less than what they were paying in mid-1994.