Military leaders meet with construction contractors to discuss state business opportunities

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Fort Bragg has enjoyed a construction boom highlighted by the $300 million combined headquarters for Forces and Army Reserve commands. The Fayetteville Observer reports military leaders and private contractors from across the state met in Wilmington this week to discuss life after base realignment and closure – the process that brought the combined headquarters to Fort Bragg. The headquarters building was dedicated Aug. 1.

The annual North Carolina Federal Construction & Infrastructure Summit – also known as Fedcon – featured representatives from more than 100 companies and several military installations, as well as leaders with the state National Guard, Army Reserve and Army Corps of Engineers. Presenters did not paint a bleak future for contractors after BRAC, but they cautioned that there are “new realities.”

Tad Davis, chief executive officer for Army Reserve Command at Fort Bragg, said this new world order features tighter budgets and a greater emphasis on eco-friendly designs to help conserve energy and money. “The Army – our Army, my Army – is building green, buying green and going green,” Davis said. “It’s a team effort … That’s why we’re here.”

“We’re at the end of the BRAC era. The reality now is the budget is shrinking,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Dorko, deputy commanding general of military and international operations for the Army Corps of Engineers. Soon, there will be fewer new construction projects, Dorko said, and contractors can instead expect a greater emphasis on restoring and modernizing existing buildings.

That’s certainly the case on Fort Bragg, said retired Col. Greg Bean, Fort Bragg’s director of public works. Bean made a brief presentation during a panel discussion in which he highlighted Fort Bragg’s BRAC-related growth and discussed future opportunities for contractors.

While Fort Bragg does have several upcoming construction projects – including two new schools, a new non-commissioned officer academy and a hospital addition – much of the work on the installation will involve restoring existing structures to make them more modern and energy efficient. “We have to reinvent the facilities we have,” Bean said. “We’ve got a lot of facilities that were constructed in the ’70s that need to be refurbished.”

Bean said contractors also could expect the installation to focus on repaving projects for the installation’s roads and runways at Pope Field, which alone needs an estimated $100 million in paving over the next five years. Many contractors attending the summit were veterans themselves. They said they were seeking information on better ways to do business with the government. In addition to informational panels, contractors heard from keynote speakers and were able to participate in “speed networking” with various agencies. The summit wasn’t meant to benefit only businesses.

Military leaders said they were open to new ways of doing business and encouraged contractors to come to them with ideas on how to make the military more efficient. Maj. Gen. Al Aycock, director of operations for the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, said he needs help updating policy and programing for the Army. “Give me your ideas. I can help you a great deal,” said Aycock, a former Fort Bragg garrison commander.

Aycock offered the privatization of Army housing and lodging as examples of relatively new ideas that save the military money while putting money in the hands of contractors. In keynote remarks, Aycock said the nation’s budget deficit is the biggest threat to national security. “We have to help balance the budget,” he said, referring to Department of Defense attempts to save $450 billion in the next decade. “We really don’t have a choice.” Read More.

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