Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Masterminds of construction manage military facilities

By Suet Lee-Growney | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | October 13, 2017

     Editor’s Note: This story is part two of a three part series on the Directorate of Public Works Master Planning Division.

     The Army’s Military Construction program provides real property assets for Soldiers and their families to work, train and live.

     Most aspects of MILCON are managed by the Directorate of Public Works Master Planning Division. According to BJ Watson, DPW planning division chief, they typically deal with large projects on post, such as the new Irwin Army Community Hospital or areas of interest to Fort Riley off the installation.

     “MILCON typically builds large new facilities on Army installations,” Watson said. “Some examples would be an aircraft maintenance hangar or a headquarters building or something as big as the Fort Riley hospital.”

     Each year, the program receives a go-ahead and funding from Congress to proceed with construction of facilities based on priority.

     “MILCON comes from an annual appropriation,” Watson said. “It’s a congressional appropriation to construct large facilities across the Army and the program is managed on a DA (Department of the Army) level. So Department of the Army will take a list of projects, put them into the president’s budget each year to congress that’s part of the annual appropriation and authorization bill.”

     All of these things happen on a high level, but before any of that can happen, the master planning personnel of Fort Riley feed the installation-level project requirements for the post into a prioritization process data call.

     “What we do at the installation level is we maintain what we call a 1-N list,” Watson said. “That’s our prioritized list of requirements for new construction projects. And that list is originally generated from our area development plans … We look at a specific area on post, say (Marshall Army) Air Field, and identify the future construction requirements there.”

      To erect new permanent facilities on post, DPW Master Planning Division will first need funding to finance the project. This is where they draft a list of new constructions by matter of importance, budget, use and more, through the MILCON program with hopes for financial backing from the congress.

     “The permanent buildings will have to be constructed using MILCON funding, which comes from the annual congressional appropriation,” Watson said. “Step one in the process of constructing a new facility is to identify the requirement, which we’ve done by analyzing our existing facilities versus what we should have — that’s what RPLANS (Real Property Planning and Analysis System) helps us do. Then we conduct an area development plan session for that area, in this case the air field, and identify that we need to construct, say 300,000 additional square feet of hangar space for aircraft maintenance. That equates to a large hangar in this area and three others interspersed with the existing down the line where they park the helicopters out there.

     “So based on identifying those requirements, we put those projects on our priority list,” Watson said. “Because they’re a critical shortage right now — I’d say they’re a critical shortage for Fort Riley — we’ve put those on top of our prioritized list and submitted those. Our last submission went in on June 30, 2017.”

     Before submitting the list, the senior commander will have the opportunity weigh in on it through the real property planning board. The real property planning board is where they talk about the status of the installation plan, identify strategies, approve projects, discuss future plans and more. Through that, the top of Fort Riley’s list for new construction is a new hangar for 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

     “Part of the process is also identify the projects,” Watson said. “We take them to the senior commander of the installation by way of the real property planning board. We present the top priorities as we see it to the senior commander, get either a concurrence or a guidance on it adjusting the list. During the last cycle, senior commander said go ahead and put all the hangar project that we have at the top of the list for submission, so we did that … So that’s one number one MILCON project for Fort Riley is to construct a new maintenance hangar for the (1st Sqdn., 6th Cav. Regt) aviation unit.”

     There is a process master planners get the installation’s projects onto the Army’s overall list of new construction. In a request for construction list, are a mix of Forces Command and Installation Management Command new construction projects. Master planners evaluate which of these takes precedence based on how bad they are needed for Soldier and family readiness and then compete with other installations for government backing.

     “We take our top projects and submit them to our higher headquarters,” Watson said. “Some of the projects go to FORSCOM … and then some of the projects that pertain to more or less the garrison operations that go on here go to IMCOM headquarters … Based on a scoring model that they manage at that level. They identify the top projects because they’re receiving submissions from Fort Riley, and from Fort Bliss (Texas), and from Fort Drum (New York) and other installations too. So they take all the rolled up data from the whole Army and identify what would be submitted to DA. And from that the overall Army level MILCON list is developed and then is submitted in each year part of the president’s budget submission and to Congress for that appropriation.”

     The last MILCON project DPW master planners completed was the Gray Eagle hangar. The money to begin the project was approved in fiscal year 2012.

     “Our last MILCON probably that we finished was the Gray Eagle hangar on the airfield,” Watson said. “That was FY12 year project … the money was actually appropriated and available to issue a contract in FY 12. Then typically it takes up to five years to totally design one of these things and build, turn it over to the user for their use. ”

     Alan Ingwersen, assistant master planner, said although the facility has been turned over to the unit, construction is still going on. Watson added the overall MILCON process takes years to complete from submission to completion.

     “The list we just submitted in June of 2017, will be the Army’s list for FY24,” he said. “So there is a long cycle that proceeds the actual appropriation that has that project in it because it takes the higher headquarters most of the year to identify what’s on the Army’s list. And those lists are analyzed at the Army level and the budget books and all those things are developed for the future of appropriations. It’s in competition with all the other requirements the Army has in the U.S., overseas.”

      Since the 1st Inf. Div. returned to Fort Riley in 2006, the MILCON program appropriated $1.6 billion.

     “There were multiple projects in each one of the camps,” Watson said. “So those were all funded by the Army to support the 1st Inf. Div. as it was stationed here at Fort Riley. Since 2015, 2016 when we wrapped up that last hangar project, we haven’t had any (submissions) that have made the Army’s list. We’ve submitted our list each year … mainly hangar and range projects, but they haven’t been incorporated in the Army’s overall list since we did that Gray Eagle project.

 

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM OBJECTIVE MEMORANDUM BUILD

     The MILCON POM Build is a final list the DA rolls out to Congress. It is not developed by master planners at Fort Riley. Ingwersen said, “the POM list is what goes before congress and president for approval.”

     Watson said the way master planners fit into the POM build is through their initial evaluation on an installation level on what projects are deemed more important than others. Submissions each year are typically proposed for about six years into the future.

     “We feed into that process by developing our prioritized list and submitting it each year to higher headquarters,” Watson said. “There is that five to six year cycle — for example, this year we fed our data in for the FY24 POM … We don’t develop the POM, all we do is send our project list in annually to be considered for the POM.”

 

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION

     The MILCON management is a two part deal: first to identify the requirements and then provide the project lists to satisfy those requirements for future budget submissions, according to Watson.

     “In the event that we do have a project that makes it into the budget and is approved and appropriated for construction, then we also assist with the management of the construction of that project,” he said.

     Ingwersen has dealt with a lot of the constructions that were part of the $1.6 billion appropriations. He is involved, from the design of the project until it is turned over to the user. He also works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Army’s construction agents in MILCON projects.

     “We get Congress and president to authorize us to build the project,” Ingwersen said. “Then we go ahead with the design and we have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers help us with the contracts, statements of work, everything to get the project started … There are about three review processes for the plans, specifications and design analysis. And once that’s complete, we put out for bids. Once these companies submit bids, we have a selection process we go through and there is a notice to proceed issued.”

   Ingwersen’s role as assistant master planner goes beyond managing projects. He also is the go-to person coordinating with other organizations who have a stake on the construction, like the Network Enterprise Center and more.

     “I still find stuff at my level that’s gone through quality control two or three times,” he said. “I make sure the project is acceptable for our Real Property manager to accept at the end of the project … and I do all the coordination between NEC, the police department, Anti-Terrorism Force Protection people, physical security, just about anybody that has any part of that project.”

     Watson said the master planners also make records of how the project was made. Each large, permanent structure is constructed for a 50-year lifespan.

    “The project is formally closed out when it’s accepted into our real property systems,” Watson said. “And the user moves in and starts using and PW (Public Works) takes it on for operation maintenance for the design life of the building, which is typically for a large building 25 to 50 years.”

 

UNSPECIFIED MINOR MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, ARMY

      In each annual appropriation, there’s usually $25 million appropriated for unspecified MILCON requirements, known as the UMMCA.

     “It is identified as some money for the Army to use annually to construct projects that were unforeseen, or new emerging requirements, or life, safety type issues that have become a problem somewhere,” Watson said.

      Ingwersen said the MILCON program does have a set budget. However, UMMCA budget is between $1 million and $3 million.

     “MILCON does not have a cap on how much money to spend on a project, UMMCA does,” he said. “It has a range of dollar amount that we have to stay within a project … that’s a very competitive program because of the small budget.”

     According to Watson, the last UMMCA project executed at Fort Riley was the construction of additional ramp space at Manhattan Airport in 2010 to support deployments.

 

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

     After DPW submits their annual request for new construction, the master planning division at Fort Riley does not liaise directly with the DA because they have IMCOM and FORSCOM headquarters between.

     “We don’t necessarily answer questions with Headquarters DA,” Watson said. “But as we submit a list annually, entering the June time frame, a lot of the times there are questions that come back about what is submitted.”

     The request for MILCON projects is submitted through a DD 1391 form, which highlights the program, budget, scope, square footage and more. This is list comprehensive and thorough, and should be easily understood by all who need to review it all the way to congressional level.

     “That three page document that identifies the budget and the scope and justification has to explain how much the project costs, how much and what it’s going to provide and why it’s needed,” Watson said.

      However, when the documents are submitted and reviewed, there are sometimes holes about the information provided. And RFI is created to clarify the proposal so when an aid from Congress reviews it, there will no longer be further questions about the proposal.

     “Those questions come back to us and we either provide an answer or we provide a revision to the DD 1391 document, so that it’s clear and succinct as possible when it goes for consideration for future budget,” Watson said.

 

     CONGRESSIONAL INSERTS

     Ingwersen said because they are working on MILCON projects years in advance, that doesn’t mean if there is a project that needs to be executed sooner, it cannot happen.

     “Just because we are working on the projects for FY 2024, that doesn’t mean something might happen and we can move them left in the timeline,” he said. “There’s always a chance it can be moved ahead in time, but that doesn’t usually happen.”

     Watson weighed in and added this type of decision “can only be made by Congress.” Interest from Congress to construct or to provide additional support to Fort Riley is possible.

     “Something happens and a project is inserted into a budget that’s less than six years our, or a priority change, or something like that, then we execute sooner than we anticipate originally,” he said.

     Watson said each year, the Army has a finite budget they are trying to keep, so it is necessary for the Master Planning Division to make a good case for Fort Riley to get approval and appropriations for all construction.

     “It is incumbent on us to make sure we make a good case, we have accurate documentation and we have described our requirements and our needs to the best of our abilities, so our project competes the best as possible as it goes through this long process,” Watson said. “If we’ve done that, then I think we are successful and we will see some MILCON support come our way and we construct new building and replace some of the old ones that we have our here. And that’s important because we want the best possible facilities for the Soldiers here to use.”