FEDCON Reveals Shifting Strategies for a New Millenium

November 15, 1998 · by DesignIntelligence

Jointly sponsored by CMD Group and the National Institute of Building Services, the six annual FEDCON forum presented U.S. government plans and budgets for 1999, presented by those who play a key role in shaping construction budgets and policies for

Jointly sponsored by CMD Group and the National Institute of Building Services, the six annual FEDCON forum presented U.S. government plans and budgets for 1999, presented by those who play a key role in shaping construction budgets and policies for various agencies. The 1999 FEDCON program was expanded to include more federal agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Air Force, and the Federal Highway Administration.

Bunny Greenhouse launched FEDCON '99 by talking about the Corps' plans for better partnering and anticipated that '99 budget figures would be double '96 figures. One of its immediate goals is to become totally electronic as quickly as possible. The Internet is helping move the Corps closer to realizing this goal. It is now possible to download non-official documents and official documents are available on CD-ROM. The Corps has plans to expand the use of e-mail at all levels. Electronic bid sets soon will be available.

GSA's Robert Peck reviewed the agency's current courthouse program that will continue until fruition in 2002. Reflecting GSA's increased focus on quality design and construction, Peck said, We're building a legacy of public buildings for the next generation. We stress architectural excellence in facilities that are both useful and needed. The next few years will see the GSA say extremely busy with a total of 52 projects scheduled to begin at a cost of $58 billion. The greatest percentage of the work will take place in the Southeast. Other major projects in the next few years will be U.S. Courthouses in Las Vegas and Phoenix, other courthouses in Denver and Sacramento and the new U.S. Secret Service Headquarters in Washington, DC.

While the Clinton Administration recommended no additional new funds for construction for FY99, Congress appropriated an additional $492 million for 18 new projects above what was already scheduled. With around $660 million in renovations currently underway around the country, Peck said that the GSA is striving to renovated about $300-$400 million in public buildings a year. Two major renovation projects set for 1999 are the State Department Building and the Interstate Commerce Commission Building in Washington, DC.

In planning its construction budget for the coming Fiscal Year, the U.S. Air Force developed an investment strategy based on accomplishing several goals. One of those challenges, as part of the Air Force's continued commitment to combat readiness, includes creating facilities to handle the beddown of the F22 airplane, the newest weapon being developed by the Air Force. The Air Force has yet to decide where the new fighter will be headquartered. From a construction standpoint, the Air Force remains committed to develop projects to support the quality of life investments it has made in recent years. This includes building new dormitories for its enlisted personnel and further development of fitness centers and child care centers. Another key element of the Air Force plan is to optimize its use of public and private resources, while also maintaining its current demolition and rehabilitation programs.

While the '99 budget is around $500 million, down from a high in the late '80s of $1.8 billion, spending levels in future years are expected to rise considerably, reaching $900 million by 2004. Much of the funding for infrastructure will come in upgrades and renovations. The infrastructure at some bases is old and needs rehabilitation. Family housing is another major area of expenditure. The Air Force currently owns 110,000 units of housing but the average age of a unit is about 35 years old. Air Force representatives states that another 59,000 units require major improvements or replacement, which, at current funding levels, will take another 26 years to catch up.

The Navy's design initiatives include cradle-to-grave teams to carry out a project from start to finish, indefinite contracting requirements, partners and sustainable development. In an effort to gain insight into ways to better carry out their mission, the Navy established the Rocky Mountain Institute. The goals are to plan building projects where first costs are not much more and may be even less than planned; reduce energy consumption by 60 to 80 percent; produce improved working conditions; lower life-cycle costs and provide a wide range of other environmental benefits.

The Navy has also increased its use of Design-Build projects and will greatly depend on this program in future years. More than 10 percent of all projects were Design-Building in FY 1998 and the numbers will reach 30 percent in FY 1999. Charleston, SC is one area which is really taking off with this concept. As for the future impacts on Navy military construction, the quadrennial defense review will stress readiness and reduce infrastructure. Other factors expected to play a part in the future are Congress, regionalization, public/private ventures, outsourcing and asset leveraging.

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