“So often, we’re moving so fast we don’t step back to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.” According to Mandy Bianchini, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) Value Engineering expert, that’s where she and her counterparts can help.
According to the Society of American Value Engineering (SAVE), value methodology is a process that analyzes the different parts of a project, product, or process to ensure an optimal balance among factors such as cost, time, and safety.
And although value engineering is not unique to USACE, every USACE district incorporates value engineering processes into their work. It’s not only mandated by law but has proven again and again to achieve the best results for both the Corps and its mission partners. In fact, USACE has gotten so good at the VE process that they recently won six out of the eight awards presented at a SAVE summit in June of this year.
Bianchini’s Team won for their work on TAM's US Development Area (USDA) project in Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The project originally had a budget of $1.4B with 168 facilities to include site development and infrastructure. Bianchini’s team worked to "right-size" the Value strategy. Because the project was so large, they did not have the time or money to conduct value workshops on every facility individually. So they developed a plan to group similar elements into categories for a series of value studies covering many elements concurrently, with up to four independent value teams at a time.
The goal was to improve performance and simplify the mission of operating and maintaining the new base upon construction completion. Working with Air Force stakeholders, they collaboratively developed a strategy for a minimum number of workshops to cover the large scope of work. The project is still ongoing but so far, the implemented results have included simplifying facility maintenance, reducing operation costs for facilities, and improving flight line operations.
Early collaboration with the VE Consultant to help develop the strategy was the key to success. This program proves the value of using the Value Methodology on projects with TAM's Host Nation partners.
Although this isn’t the first award TAM’s value engineering team has won, it is one of the most prestigious.
“This project has also been recognized by USACE but it’s really an honor for SAVE to recognize us as well,” said Bianchini. “There are competitors from corporations, sole proprietors, consulting firms and government agencies worldwide and this demonstrates the success of our outcomes, program improvements, and management strategies among a much broader pool of competitors.”
In addition to TAM’s award, USACE personnel and teams were also recognized with the VE Rising Star Award presented to Benjamin Sakmar, Pittsburgh District Value Officer; the VE Professional of the Year Award for Autumn Ziegler, Jacksonville District Value Officer; the Outstanding Accomplishment in Management which went to Jimmie Carter, USACE Office of Value Expertise; the Gordon Frank Outstanding Accomplishment in Government went to the USACE Value Program; and SAVE International awarded Jeffrey Hooghouse, Headquarters USACE’s Chief Value Officer, Fellowship status.
Bianchini speculated that USACE had done so well at the SAVE summit because VE was built into USACE business practices and because they recognize that it’s about way more than cutting costs.
“USACE follows the rules and focuses on doing it right. We realized a few years ago that focusing on cost cutting wasn’t a winning strategy. Instead, we started focusing on people and making things better and we’re seeing fantastic results. The goal of the Value Program is not to deliver the cheapest project but help with whatever is needed. Does our customer need to move into a maintenance facility six months earlier than the current schedule shows? Do you need to find the best contracting strategy and develop a construction phasing plan? Do you need to simplify a maintenance plan? Are you worried contractor bids will bust the budget? VE is a tool that can do all that and more by focusing on quality,” she said.
In addition to the SAVE and USACE awards TAM has won for the USDA program, they were recognized by USACE for their work on Super Hornet facilities in Kuwait with a 2022 Value Engineering Achievement Award.