My partner Tim Furin and I attended the FY2020 DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings this week on March 12 in Herndon, Virginia. The Briefings are part of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Capital Week. The program provides SAME members a chance to hear about the projected upcoming fiscal year’s engineering, construction, and environmental programs from contracting representatives, and Senior Executive Service leaders from the engineering components of the military services and select federal agencies. Representatives from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Army, Navy, Air Force, General Services Administration (GSA), Departments of State and Energy, as well as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Forest Service all made presentations. The presentations are available on SAME’s Capital Week website.

The Briefings provided useful insight and details into the various agencies’ plans and priorities for the upcoming year and their long term programs, as well as goals for changing and improving operating procedures and culture. For example, Army and USACE presenters highlighted two important upcoming rule changes, subcontractor and joint venture CPAR ratings and the inclusion of Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) performance history in solicitations. The CPAR ratings will allow for the use of past performance ratings of subcontractors and for each partner of a joint venture when awarding certain DOD contracts. This will ensure contractors and subcontractors receive the credit they deserve for work performed. The inclusion of REA performance history in solicitations will require federal agencies to publish their policy and procedures on equitable adjustments, on any small federal construction contract out for bid, and require agencies to report on the time it takes to process these change orders. The REA rule provides prospective federal construction contractors with the information they need to factor the risk and resulting cost of delayed payment for changes into their bids and offers.

Increased American investments in construction projects in Europe and the Middle East, including Israel, Poland, and Romania were also discussed, as well as the Foreign Military Sales program. We have seen this first hand at Cohen Seglias as several clients are performing and submitting proposals for, contracts in Israel, Poland, and Afghanistan. Upcoming Industry Days for construction projects in Kuwait and Israel were also announced. Interestingly, the Department of Energy (DOE) stressed the desire for more competition for its contracts and hopes that more contractors get involved in and bid on their capital construction projects (as primes, JV partners, or subcontractors), especially traditional construction contractors, as DOE’s projects require conventional construction services as well.

Across the Briefings, there was a theme of improving and emphasizing Government-Industry partnering on construction projects and an emphasis on more, and better, design-build projects that will allow for the implementation of more contractor innovation. Finally, the importance of pushing decision-making down to “the field” on construction projects was a point that was reiterated.

The above is just a few highlights from a great day of interesting and informative presentations and networking. We will post more detailed articles on these topics in the near future. But should you have any questions about the DOD Briefings or any of these issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.