WINCHESTER, Va. – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representatives participated in the KazBuild Spring 2012 Expo, a construction exhibition held March 14-16 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. USACE representatives included the Transatlantic Division's Senior Procurement Analyst Leigh Bandy and the Middle East District's Small Business Specialist Mike Weaver and Project Management Support for Others Branch Chief Bill Ryals.
The purpose of KazBuild Spring 2012, one of the largest annual construction exhibitions in the region, was to increase awareness of construction industry developments, trends and construction material procurement prospects in the region. The event was an opportunity for networking among visitors and industry members.
The prime contractor meeting on the second day, scheduled and coordinated by the U.S. and Kazakh governments, was co-sponsored by Defense Logistics Agency and USACE. Presenters offered an in-depth look at various aspects of work in the region from several regional perspectives. The intent of this meeting was to stimulate interaction between the major construction contractors performing work in Afghanistan and construction suppliers from the Central Asian States.
Bandy started the presentations with details of the Central Asian States Initiative. Based on U.S. Statute (Section 801 - 2010 National Defense Authorization Act), the CAS Initiative provides temporary authority to provide price preference for or limit the competition to CAS companies for products or services, including construction, in support of operations in Afghanistan. This could reduce transportation costs and other associated risks for the contractor while incentivizing expanded supply routes both into and out of Afghanistan, which could aid regional economic stabilization.
"The intent of the legislation is to enable greater commerce between the industry conducting business in Afghanistan and industry in the Central Asian States," said Bandy. "Greater economic productivity in the region north of Afghanistan will reduce the over-reliance on the riskier traditional trade routes from the east, and will enhance the overall economic stability in the entire region."
Bandy's presentation included Department of Defense regulatory guidance and implementation guidance from U. S. Central Command and USACE. He discussed construction materials and equipment that would be targeted, various options used to support the initiative, and applicable requirements.
Other topics included CAS procurement strategies from the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment and construction material procurement in CAS by Lt. Col. John Hudson of the Defense Logistics Agency's Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office. The U.S. Agency for International Development representative discussed a regional economic integration project; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development topic was enterprise growth; and Kaznex Invest, the Kazakh government's national export and investment agency, discussed supporting export development.
"The Transatlantic Division and Middle East District attended KazBuild Spring 2012 to help emphasize the importance of expanding the northern supply routes into Afghanistan," said Ryals. "While the primary focus was on Afghanistan, there were some discussions regarding the CENTCOM counternarcotics projects in Kazakhstan currently managed by the Middle East District, and the 11 small projects that will be awarded this summer."
"Through the contacts we made at KazBuild, particularly with the government's firm Kaznex Invest, we will be in a better position to advertise and execute the upcoming work we have for the counter narcotics program, currently scheduled for advertisement and award later this year," said Weaver. "The arm of government that issues construction licenses will recommend qualified construction companies and help the contractors work on their required registrations, such as the Central Contractors Registration database.
"This relationship is important to USACE," he said. "We will invite Kaznex to the Contract Awareness seminar in Kazakhstan scheduled for May since the construction supplies used for our projects will probably be purchased from some of the same suppliers we met while at KazBuild. Local contractors buying their supplies locally will save the U.S. government many dollars on our procurements."
"Increasing the volume of construction materials procured in CAS and establishing business relationships between construction contractors and material suppliers will help support USCENTCOM's long-term strategic vision in the region," said Hudson.
Construction industry manufacturers and suppliers from 15 countries were represented by 176 exhibitors at this year's KazBuild, marking a significant increase from last year's exhibition numbers of 148 firms from seven countries.