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NAVFAC leaders across Southeast region attend conference with industry partners, discuss upcoming work and communication

13 April 2023

From Ashley Snipes

Representatives from Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast; Officer in Charge of Construction - Florence (OICC Florence); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACoE); Fort Bragg; Marine Corps Installations East (MCI-East); Seymour Johnson AFB; U.S. Coast Guard; and various other federal and state agencies gathered in Wilmington, North Carolina on April 12 and 13, for the annual Southeast Region Federal Construction, Infrastructure & Environmental Summit (The Summit) held at the Wilmington Convention Center.

Designed to connect general and specialty contractors, design firms, construction supply firms, and companies providing facility-support contracts with the federal government, The Summit provided attendees with two days of dialogue about critical and timely topics as well as many networking opportunities. This year’s event, hosted by the office of Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and the North Carolina Military Business Center, steered toward an emphasis on open communication among all entities involved in Military Construction (MILCON) projects and Facilities Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization (FSRM) projects.

“For the past three to four years, NAVFAC has been actively seeking industry feedback on best practices that can be applied to governing projects,” said Rear Adm. Maria "Lore" Aguayo, Commander, NAVFAC Atlantic, during her keynote speech on April 13. “We have heard in the past from industry that government decisions are often delayed because field personnel do not have the authority for certain decision making. We have initiated a multi-tiered governance structure intended to identify and resolve issues on the lowest appropriate level, but allowing a framework to elevate concerns for quick resolution of the barriers.”

Aguayo also outlined three key areas for success provided from the feedback: Ensure senior leaders and stakeholders are involved; partnering and governance needs to begin in the early stages of planning and continue beyond project completion; and transparent collaboration is essential, and team members should share their concerns, especially when there is a risk to the schedule or cost of a project.

“It’s a partnership,” echoed Cmdr. Daniel J. Gutierrez, operations officer, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, during one of three dialogue sessions he participated in. “It’s making sure we work together to get to a goal.”

Brig. Gen. Andrew M. Niebel, commanding general, MCI-East, emphasized the importance of a solid relationship between NAVFAC and the prime and sub-contractors.

“It’s not just rebuilding after a hurricane, it’s not just modernizing old buildings, it is keeping up and maintaining a competitive edge with our competitors,” said Niebel. “Today, right now… and 365 days a year, we are operating from our bases and stations... right now we are conducting operations that effect real world things around the globe. Make no mistake about it, you all are a part of it.”

Discussions throughout the two day event focused on collaboration between government and industry panel members about issues they are encountering now, as well as challenges they foresee while looking for future opportunities with the federal government. The topics covered current issues such as supply chain, inflation, pricing, bidding, and larger issues such as environmental and energy topics.

“It was great to come together as one NAVFAC team and discuss work in progress and upcoming projects across the Southeast,” said Capt. James “Jim” Brown, PE, PMP, CEM, commanding officer, OICC Florence. “I’m excited to see that lessons learned at OICC Florence are being used to improve project management, partnering between government and contractors, and with overall efficiency and effectiveness of communications between NAVFAC and prime contractors.”

OICC Florence provides world-class engineering, construction, and acquisition services supporting the Marine Corps’ recovery from Hurricane Florence and deployment of the Joint Strike Fighter, re-establishing the readiness of expeditionary forces for MCIEAST and II Marine Expeditionary Force.
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