A team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Middle East District (MED) was recently named the “USACE Project Delivery Team (PDT) Of The Year for Merit” for their work in planning the execution of almost 1 billion dollars in foreign military sales construction for the nation of Qatar.
The project, known comprehensively as Shield 5, is one of the largest ever undertaken by the District and will cover the construction of several missile defense sites along with numerous support facilities spread across a wide geographic area. Most of the sites were completely undeveloped at the start of construction.
A letter from USACE Headquarters congratulating the team on their win stated the award was for the team’s “continued successful delivery of the Shield 5 Patriot Program facilities.” Key to their success was recognizing early on that the complexity and overall magnitude of the program required a mega program management model as well as identifying required areas of expertise that were not available through district resources. The PDT was challenged with and is successfully meeting the delivery of 100+ facilities across seven sites to include utilities and infrastructure using earned value management, a performance management technique that, when used properly, provides program and project health, forecasting capabilities for cost & time, as well as an early warning sign for PDTs to take corrective steps if needed.”
Project delivery teams are made up of people representing a diverse group of skill sets who work together to design, award and build projects within USACE. The MED PDT working on Shield 5 consisted of engineers, architects, project managers, contracting representatives, lawyers and several other support personnel.
“I’m extremely proud of all of you,” said Colonel Stephen Bales, the District’s commander. “This award is for a total team effort that really represents not just one largescale action but a series of important milestones that brought us to the project award and beginning construction. “
The initial scope of the program included all associated design and construction for 7 distinct sites located throughout the country of Qatar and includes over 100 facilities with related utilities and infrastructure. This was eventually scaled back to 6 sites.
According to Janet Rigoni, the program manager for the team from 2014 until she recently handed the project off, they recognized early on that the complex large scale of the project would require the implementation of a Project Management Office (PMO) model with resources exclusively dedicated to this mega program.
“The sheer magnitude of the project was one of the biggest challenges. We quickly realized we were going to need a dedicated team from several different areas of expertise if we were going to be able to meet our stakeholder’s needs while sticking to a tight time frame,” said Rigoni. “We basically had to shorten the time it takes to accomplish many of the tasks involved in this type of award while maintaining the same quality our mission partners expect. The entire team was really dedicated.”
Rigoni also noted that the size of the project made design and other changes more complicated.
“You’re always going to have a back and forth dialogue with the customer during a project,” she said. “Some of that dialogue will inevitably include changes to the original design. Because of the scope of this project, which includes numerous facilities and site plans, changing one aspect of it could change several other aspects of it in terms of layout. It complicates things from a planning perspective but at the end of the day, our number one priority is our mission partner’s satisfaction.”
In addition to the size of the project, the customer also had a tight timeline, another challenge the team worked closely together to overcome.
“In order to keep to the schedule, we had to shorten the duration it normally takes to accomplish many of the activities that lead up to the start of construction on a project without cutting corners or sacrificing quality” said Marissa Louden, a current project manager on Shield 5. We had to work really closely with legal and contracting to make sure we got it right.”
Prior to being named PDT of the year for the USACE, the team received the same award at the District level and were one of two teams from the Transatlantic Division to receive awards. The Mosul Dam Task Force PDT received the USACE PDT award for Excellence.