USACE Takes Corrective Action to Get a Project Back on Track

Middle East District
Published April 13, 2012

WINCHESTER, Va. –"Customers don't expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong." --Donald Porter, British Airways

When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commits to delivering a project or service for a customer, it strives to complete the work on time, within budget, and at a quality standard that the customer expects.

By and large, the Middle East District meets those goals, but sometimes a project goes south and corrective action must be taken.

"It's always a difficult decision to terminate a contract because the contractor is failing to meet quality and timeliness standards," said Richard Elder, contract specialist. "We do all we can to help him meet the contract requirements – to pull him over the finish line.

"We employ all the available contracting tools when a contractor isn't responding, including issuing cure notices and reducing progress payments. We also issue interim unsatisfactory performance ratings, which affect a contract's ability to get future federal contracts."

"When none of that works, the government can terminate the contract," Elder said.

Terminating a contract is never easy or without problems for the government, and it has consequences for the customer as well.

"If we don't deliver on schedule, the customer doesn't get his facilities when he needs them," said William Carter, construction manager. "If we have to re-procure and there aren't enough available funds to finish the facility, the customer has to provide more money."

That's what happened with the fiscal year 2008 facilities package for the Special Operations Forces program in Southwest Asia.

On Jan. 4, the District awarded a $27.8 million contract to Contrack International Inc. for the re-procurement of the fiscal year 2008 facilities program. The original contract for the 2008 program, awarded in September 2008, was terminated for default on March 15, 2011. The only successfully completed facility in the original contract was a $9 million parking ramp turned over in July 2010.

The new contract requires demolition of some uncompleted structures from the terminated contract and construction of a combined facility housing an operations center, operations complex and storage facility; a vehicle maintenance facility; sunshades and canopies; and site work and utilities. Completion is expected by April 2013.

On Jan. 23, personnel from the Qatar Area Office, Middle East District headquarters and Contrack International gathered in Doha to kick off the initial construction planning.

"This is an important project for the customer, and we want to give it a fresh start by getting it moving quickly," said Vernon Crudup, MILCON (Military Construction) resident engineer. "The goal for this meeting is to create the atmosphere for open communications so that we are fully successful, especially as we start the project."

Participants then discussed the base pass process, subcontractors, materials and vehicles, lay-down yards, and escorts. They also discussed aspects of the work unique to the re-procurement.

Crudup also told the contractor to be aggressive in meeting schedules. "If you're not getting what you need from us, let me know. If you need help with your submittals, ask for it."

Roger Thomas, chief, Construction Operations Division, said that Contrack International Inc. can choose to accept any unfinished construction work, but the quality of that work will be the firm's responsibility. Or the firm may demolish the work left in place if unsuitable.

"There are many actions that must take place quickly in order for CII to move out quickly on this project," Thomas said. "Vernon and Joe (Holm) are here to help you succeed. We want to make sure you're set up for success. Getting this project back on track is critical for our customer.

"As always, quality and safety are most important. We want this project to be something we can be proud of years after the construction is finished."

"We are excited to work on this project, and we are looking forward to doing a good job," said Wahid Hakki, chief executive officer, Contrack International.

These facilities support the Special Operations Command in carrying out its strategic objectives in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.