Greetings SAME Teammates:
Just over a month ago I was facing a crowd of frustrated lake stakeholders who sought an impossible solution. Here was the unsavory truth: The Savannah River Basin has been experiencing a sustained period of drought and a less-than-hopeful weather forecast. In fact, consistent rain deficits over the last 15 years suggest a new normal is being established in our basin. Rain just isn't falling as it once did and there is no easy or low cost engineering solution that can increase inflows to lakes. The challenge will be learning to adapt to the new weather patterns and finding other holistic solutions to water quality and water quantity needs throughout the Savannah River Basin.
A similar challenge is emerging in the Department of Defense (DoD), if it is not already here. We all are fully aware that this challenge involves fewer dollars and a less-than-hopeful budget forecast. Just like in the Savannah River Basin, we are faced with adjusting to a new normal in light of our evolving economic reality, a reality defined by fiscal limitations. Therefore, the theme for the SAME Savannah Post in 2013 is "Operating in the New Normal."
For nearly 11 years we have operated in a period of Military Transformation which required extensive construction and updates to military infrastructure. Global events such as 9/11 changed the Nation's security needs and the Base Realignment and Closure initiatives were also unfolding in this period. As a result, the Army underwent a massive reorganization focused on modular units (such as brigade combat teams) to fight different kinds of battles in new conditions and environments. The Military Transformation created a demand for engineering solutions and required a renaissance in construction and infrastructure design. After a decade of transformation, we know the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction.
Currently DoD is experiencing $470 billion-plus in budget cuts through 2020. A portion of these cuts has been taken in the services Military Construction (MILCON) and Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization (SRM) programs which were reflected in briefings at our Annual Programs Conference. With sequestration and the "fiscal cliff' looming, the services could experience even greater budget cuts. Current sequestration numbers reflect DoD and non-DOD discretionary spending programs could be cut by $1.2 trillion between 2013 and 2021- roughly $140 billion a year. It remains unclear how sequestration will affect USACE's Civil Works program. Even with the budget cuts the Corps of Engineers will continue to be required to help the Army meet Small Business goals.
We can expect our business to shift from many high-dollar projects to fewer and smaller projects making the most out of dollars spent. What can the SAME Savannah Post Sustaining Members do to be successful in this new operating environment? None of what I am going to say is groundbreaking or earth-shattering, but rather they are the basics. As always if you get Government, contracts perform exceptionally well and deliver the project safely, on time, and within budget. Seek and leverage cost effective, sustainable, and ingenious solutions. Establish Mentor-Protege relationships with Small Business firms in order to help fulfill the Army's requirements. Pursue Joint Ventures to leverage unique capabilities and talents as well as share the limited work. Develop and submit competitive proposals.
This new normal requires a cultural shift from accomplishing high volumes of work to putting the best value into the work we do. Just like our lake stakeholders who cannot control the weather, we have little immediate influence on the Nation's larger economic reality. We are dealing with smaller pieces of pie, but this creates opportunities. Therefore we must adjust to this new normal and focus on doing less, better.
I look forward to working with and serving with you in 2013!
Jeffrey M. Hall
Colonel, U.S. Army
SAME Savannah Post