Lloyd C. Caldwell, P.E., SES
The new Director of Military Programs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reflects on what the agency has learned over the last decade and how it is adjusting to meet many diverse, emerging requirements.
Capt. Alex Glade, USA, Deputy Resident Engineer, Iwakuni Resident Office, briefs Lloyd Caldwell (center), P.E., SES, on the site plan for the Runway Relocation Project, Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan. Left is Gene Ban, Director of Programs, USACE Pacific Ocean Division. PHOTOS COURTESY USACE.
TME: What do you see as your major challenges as you begin your new position as Director of Military Programs?
Caldwell: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is a large, globally dispersed organization with diverse missions and responsibilities, and a broad range of stakeholders. We must remain grounded as a highly capable technical organization as we evolve and improve. We have a legacy of an internal drive for improvement and transformation, which has sustained our core competencies and enterprise value proposition.
USACE serves a variety of interests, which require it to balance risk and expectations for high standards of performance. National level stakeholders look to us to set a national standard while local stakeholders look to maximize their results. These sometimes competing interests can create some uncertainty within our teams.
The challenge is adopting principlesbased best practices that our people and stakeholders understand and can depend upon whether the work is in Georgia, California or overseas. We want to sustain the business processes that make USACE a high-performing organization for our stakeholders and industry partners. This will be enabled by a collaborative spirit among our dispersed organizations, an enterprise perspective among our leaders at all levels, as well as technical leadership by each of our team members. We have made much progress, but more remains.
Another pressing concern is the reduction in workload and funding. This is a challenge across the whole of government. Our military construction program historically has increased and decreased from year to year. We accept that as a norm. Our managers are accustomed to making good management decisions to adjust their organizations to suit projected workload. The key is being able to project the workload a couple years in advance in order to plan and implement change with minimal disruption. Our challenge today is that we are moving from a military workload of $26 billion in FY2012 to $16 billion in FY2014. Significant numbers in any case, but a large delta to which we must adapt smartly.
TME: Energy and sustainability initiatives continue to grow in emphasis. How is USACE responding to these important areas of national interest?
Caldwell: Today, USACE is supporting the U.S. Army and Department of Defense (DOD) in a broad array of energy security and sustainability goals. We formally adopted concepts of sustainability with publication of the USACE Environmental Operating Principles in 2002.We now use principles and practices of sustainability in a focused, comprehensive way in all that we do. As we look at project delivery, we apply systems thinking to include consideration of secondary effects.
Lloyd Caldwell discusses construction in Iraq with leaders of USACE Gulf District South, at Tallil, Iraq, while serving as Director of Programs, USACE Gulf Region Division.
During the past two years we implemented guidance to increase energy efficiency in MILCON designs and developed methods for lifecycle cost analysis to advance compliance with national objectives for new MILCON facilities. As the Army’s Facilities Strategy 2020 is implemented, we will support delivery of energy efficient infrastructure in restoration and modernization of existing facilities. We are supporting the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force as it advances energy security in development of renewable energy sources through public-private collaboration. We will assist the Army in meeting its Net Zero Policy with advanced metering, reduction in potable water use, and application of sustainability principles in master planning. Our role ranges from advancing (developing or applying) critical enabling technologies to assisting industry in the public-private contractual and real property transactions.
By contemporary standards, we have had great success as projects excelled in achieving LEED certifications—a path we first embarked upon with implementation of the SPIRIT rating tool in 1999. Our policy is that projects meet LEED Silver. Many have exceeded that due to the enthusiasm and ingenuity of industry and our teams. But looking forward, we must think well beyond that first application at individual projects by considering lifecycle costs and energy security as we demonstrate a sustainability and energy conscious mind-set.
With our colleagues at Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment [now part of the new Air Force Civil Engineer Center], we have established a tri-service forum to share energy initiatives. We are cooperating in a tri-service initiative for Total Ownership Cost Analysis in Design-Build Source Selections. The objective is to select firms based in part on the projected reduced total ownership costs over the life of new facilities to meet energy and sustainability goals. NAVFAC will lead in pilot implementation this year.
TME: For years, USACE has accomplished a majority of MILCON projects through the design-build delivery method. Do you see this continuing?
Caldwell: Recently we have delivered about 75 percent of our MILCON projects by design-build procurement. I expect that to continue for the foreseeable future. Historically, we used design-build by exception when we needed to fasttrack design and construction, or when we had a unique requirement. In time, other benefits became clear and designbuild gained such favor that it came to be a norm. Those benefits include the ability to get more projects into construction in the year of appropriation. There’s an important interest by the uniformed services and Congress to see that projects approved begin within year of appropriation because those projects represent the highest priority and needs among many that are competing for limited funding. The use of design-build also was responsive to a sense that we were too prescriptive in our contracts, that we could benefit from using more performance-based criteria.
Design-build procurement has reduced our risk to contract claims due to differences in interpretation of design requirements. I would not discount, as well, the fact that we have seen an evolution of capability among the architect-engineer and construction industry to work in collaborative and integrated manner. Working relationships that were at one time unique and viewed with skepticism are now more accepted and effective.
We do not intend to use design-build routinely or automatically. There are some projects not suited for it. Our foundational policy remains that delivery teams look at each individual project to determine the best acquisition strategy for the conditions unique to that project. That means design-bid-build remains a viable approach we use extensively. To a lesser extent, we have used, and will continue to use, early contractor involvement— especially where the objectives to retain control of design while also fast-tracking construction indicate the value.
Each of these has a different basis for distribution of risk as well as source selection procedures. We have responded to industry concerns about the use of twostep versus one-step source selection for design-build contracts. This past year we began publishing a national list of pending procurements to show what types of projects can be expected. NAVFAC, in fact, piloted this process, and we responded to expressions of interest from SAME member firms that we follow suit.
TME: You have had a long, distinguished career in USACE, from Baltimore District to Europe District to North Atlantic Division, and now at Headquarters. What changes have you seen in USACE during your career?
Caldwell: I have had the privilege of working an engineer’s dream for an institution with a broad and diverse engineering mission serving our nation’s interests in civil works and military missions. I’ve experienced many exciting challenges and opportunities over my career. I have worked with superb professionals and had many great role models.
My experience leaves me as an unabashed enthusiast for the people and institution of USACE and for the capability for the U.S. engineering and construction industry. I am ever impressed by the dedication and professionalism of our people and the wonderful things USACE teams achieve at home and abroad. That includes local national employees in host nations that are as key and essential members of our teams as are the people we send abroad.
I returned just a few months ago from visiting our huge construction projects in Japan and Korea. Our USACE districts there are executing some of the largest, most complex engineering projects that we have anywhere—projects of great importance to peace and our national interests. Similarly, the nation building and contingency operations our people have enabled in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade has been critical. These accomplishments are not seen in the news. But when you have teams of engineer managers delivering infrastructure and conversant in the principles and lexicons of “rule of law,” “health care,” “education,” “capacity development,” “women empowered business,” “water resources management,” or “potable water and sanitation,” then you have people skilled in contribution to society as well as to our deployed troops. Frequently these are joint engineer activities among the engineering services and engineer troop units.
This reflects a significant change I’ve observed. USACE has become an expeditionary workforce with more diversity in its outlook. Historically, people were willing to serve across the nation in disaster response missions. Traditionally, we have thought of our teams as tethered to their districts; that is less the case now. Over the past decade, we have not only met the requirement to serve special missions stateside (the Gulf Coast recovery for one), we have had more than 11,000 deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today we have more than 850 civilians and 110 military persons deployed overseas, as well as 64 deployed to disaster recovery sites domestically. I can safely say there is not a USACE district that does not have civilian veterans of deployments. This expeditionary experience reflects an important service ideal and a commitment to the nation that is part of our institutional ethos.
Another change is how we think about creating project delivery teams by including members from across USACE and other agencies. We continue to refine the model, but there are many examples including the huge BRAC 2005 program where USACE Baltimore, Norfolk, New York and New England Districts worked in the national capital area. The MILCON Transformation initiative drove the concept further in the past 10 years, yet the largest catalyst likely was the implementation of Regional Business Centers at our divisions. The potential for this may have been best epitomized this past year when an interdisciplinary team from 21 districts was recognized with a prestigious Holcem Award for their study to achieve Net Zero goals for Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
TME: You have been an SAME member for many years, and served in some leadership positions. How has SAME helped you in your career and what advice would you give others on the benefits of professional organizations?
Caldwell: I have been a member of SAME since 1982, a member of the Board and the President of the Baltimore Post. I was Regional Vice President in Europe, and on the Board of the New York City Post. The extent of my personal contribution in each of those leader positions varied depending on other demands in my day job at the time. But the value to me personally and professionally, as well as to USACE, was always huge.
Our professional societies provide an important forum for the exchange of ideas that educate, share knowledge and contribute to the common good. The educational forums for professionals and the educational outreach and assistance to students are wonderful.
My involvement in SAME has been personally significant: To be among leaders of industry and government; to have the opportunity to learn of other projects, challenges and solutions; to sense the enthusiasm of scholarship winners and their families; and to be personally uplifted in those ways is indescribable. I encourage USACE civilians to become involved in organizations such as SAME as well as in other activities in their communities. Professionals who are most effective in the workplace tend to have the capacity and interest to contribute to other worthy areas outside of work.
My advice to young professionals in considering one’s career is to take advantage of opportunities for personal growth and contributions with a professional society. As one progresses in their career, others will be assessing if they have demonstrated leadership and the capacity to contribute more broadly. Participation in a professional society such as SAME is seen as an indication of that capacity.
[article first published in the November-December 2012 issue of TME]