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Posted 11/16/2016

Release no. 16-045


By Catherine Donohue

Far East District

SEOUL, South Korea--The US Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District (FED) has a very robust military engineering and construction program on the various military installations throughout the Korean peninsula. FED is partnering with Directorate of Public Works (DPW) communities to build world class facilities for our service members and their families using the installation specific master plan as the roadmap for the construction of all facilities (e.g. housing and barracks).

The master plan lays out where the development is to take place and anticipates future growth and capacity. It shows the future state of the installation with a location layout of the facility development and documents the optimal sequencing of the supportive infrastructure necessary for full functionality. Siting can be a challenge and tradeoffs with mitigation are often the way to resolve real estate issues.

Challenges may also occur when a new facility and its necessary supportive infrastructure are funded through different sources and planned for different fiscal years. Individual components of larger projects have separable line items that compete for funding prioritization. Quite often the separate support infrastructure type of projects (i.e. sanitary sewer lines, flood pumps, etc.) may not fare as well in the “rubric” of funding prioritization procedures for the Army. This can have negative effects on the optimal sequencing of projects as described in the master planning document.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as the design manager, and the Army installation Department of Public Works, as the operations manager, have a shared responsibility in the development of new facilities that are planned for installations. Coordination between the two components throughout the scoping and planning process is essential to ensure supporting infrastructure projects and adequate utility capacity is available prior to construction work.Coordination during the project scoping should minimize unintended consequences.

Master plans, supportive infrastructure projects and unintended consequences of out of sequence work was an interesting topic of discussion in the Far East District during the summer of 2016. Due to limited real estate on an Army installation, a tradeoff was made during the master planning process to in-fill an existing water detention area to locate a new housing project.As mitigation for the loss of water detention area when the land was filled-in to build the housing tower foundation, the master plan called for the sequenced construction of flood pumps to evacuate the interior drainage waters during storm events. The planned trade-off is only realistic if the flood pumps are in place prior to filling in the detention area.

In this case study the facility was funded for design, but the pumps had not yet been built or planned (funded) through the various funding streams. The scoping document for the funded housing project did not consider the inclusion of the pumps in the housing design likely because there was an assumption the flood pumps would be constructed as public works under a separate supportive infrastructure project. In consultation, the DPW and USACE determined the best course of action would be to consider updating the DD1391 to include the pumps as a critical feature of the housing project. It was also determined to request additional funds reducing the risk of potential flooding issues for the entire installation.

Theoretically, funding should not drive engineering decisions on projects; however, in the government, funding is always a consideration and it is often a technique to limit the project scope to match the funds available. The DPW and USACE need to work together to develop the project scoping documents in a holistic manner during the planning charrettes and the project definition phase. It is critically important to identify the supporting infrastructure required to make the proposed facility fully functional and to verify that the infrastructure is in place and ready to perform with the added capacity before defining the scope of work of the new building.

Knowing how the Army budget process works, it is not prudent to assume that all separate projects will be funded in the optimal sequencing demonstrated in the master plan. The DPW and USACE should work together and plan individual projects consistent with the master planning documents to ensure the Army builds high quality facilities.

The unique challenges of budgeting processes from a variety of funding streams prioritizing projects differently, is a daunting task. The early and continuous coordination between USACE and DPW and adherence to the master planning document at both the scoping phase and the project definition phase can manage the risk of one requirement of the project having funds while the other has none. While the installation defines the requirements and these requirements need to be prioritized by leaders in the enterprise level, both USACE and DPW need to champion the funding of necessary project features by clearly communicating the risk and impacts of not funding the supporting infrastructure.