Military Construction Funds May Increase
If the proposed military construction budget for fiscal year 2002 makes it through appropriations, the U.S. Corps of Engineers will be plenty busy awarding more than $3 billion worth of projects to the private sector on behalf of the U.S. Army and Air Force.
“For consulting engineers, there’s going to be a lot more work coming out of the military construction budget than we’ve had in years,” explains retired U.S. Army Major General Pat M. Stevens IV, executive director of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), Alexandria, Va.
However, until the budget actually passes, those dollars will not be available.
“It’s hard to predict what Congress will do,” notes Roger Wozny, P.E., president of The Schemmer Associates, Omaha, Neb., and SAME’s national president.
Wozny also points out that a slowdown in commercial work, coupled with delays in setting up the 2002 military construction program—due to the change in administration—has created quite a bit of uncertainty for consulting engineers.
At the same time, Stevens is optimistic that the Corps will begin awarding bids for fiscal year 2002 military projects by this winter.
“Whenever the commercial market dries up, engineers look for government projects. And now the government will have a little more on their plate to offer,” says Stevens.
As a matter of fact, the Corps may experience some extra pressure to award their projects due to the shorter timeline and a potentially large project log.
“There will probably be more design-build which means that designers will have to execute designs quicker to get the projects rolling,” says Wozny.
Even though this year’s proposed military construction budget may seem like a windfall, Wozny claims that it is really a response to cumulative underfunding for the last few years to replace deteriorating infrastructure.
“We can’t catch up in one budget year,” he says.