I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) 2021 Virtual Spring Convention. In addition to many thought-provoking sessions on the economy and political environment, I was able to attend three very valuable briefings with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
LTG Scott Spellman, Chief of USACE, provided a welcome update focused on USACE’s four main lines of effort, his priorities, and the American Jobs Plan, which I’ve written about before. He discussed revolutionizing the Civil Works program, emphasizing accelerating project delivery and proactive engagement with partners. He also stressed that USACE will have a large role in the American Jobs Plan, and discussed how USACE will need support from the architecture-engineering (AE) community.
In the Federal Programs session, Al Lee, USACE Director of Civil Works and Pete Sturdivant, USACE Interim Chief of Engineering and Construction, provided a detailed update on the USACE Civil Works Program. Over the next six months, USACE needs to complete 29 studies, award 315 construction contracts, finish 46 construction projects, invest $3.8 billion in operations and maintenance of existing projects, complete implementation guidance for the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, fight floods and storms, and deliver a $20 billion Emergency Supplemental Program.
To execute this very large workload, USACE must rely on AE support. The chart below shows how USACE supplements its in-house design capabilities with AE support.
In addition, AEs have completed the following percentages of work on the $20 billion supplemental appropriations:
- Mississippi Valley Division – 41%
- South Atlantic Division – 42%
- South Pacific Division – 40%
- Southwestern Division – 90%
- Great Lakes and Ohio River Division – 30%
- Northwestern Division – 66%
These percentages will no doubt increase as USACE begins to execute the American Jobs Plan in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.
On day three of the conference, Phoebe Percell, Chief of Dam & Levee Safety Branch and Jamie McVicker, Technical Levee Manager, provided an overview of the national levee safety program. The main components of this program are:
- National Levee Database and Tools
- National Levee Safety Guidelines
- Levee Safety Programs.
Implementation will include USACE and FEMA Coordination and significant stakeholder collaboration. Of particular interest to our industry is the planned inventory and review of all 6755 levees in the country between 2023 and 2033; that’s a lot of new work.
I came away from the ACEC 2021 Virtual Spring Convention very optimistic about the incredible opportunity to significantly upgrade our navigation, hydropower, and flood risk reduction infrastructure. I look forward to seeing how we in the AE industry can partner with USACE to execute their exceptionally ambitious program.