2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 1 Dec 2003 18:15:36 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Army ponders contract changes
Army ponders contract changes
Incentive deals sought to curb costs of cleanups; Officials expect to
save 15%; Watchdog groups worry about lack of oversight
By Lane Harvey Brown
Originally published November 30, 2003

The Army is considering broad, cost-conscious changes in how
environmental cleanup contracts are written at Aberdeen Proving Ground,
Fort Detrick, Fort Meade and three other bases in the
Maryland-Washington area.

In the multibillion-dollar world of military base remediation, Army
officials say 15 percent of cleanup costs could be saved by using
"performance-based" contracting, which relies on incentives, fixed
prices - and less government prescription - to get the job done.

Army officials say $5.2 billion has been spent on cleanup; by 2011, they
expect to spend another $3.4 billion, not including closed sites.

Officials hope that by 2007, 80 percent of the 109 sites in the Army's
remediation program will use performance-based contracting. Today, they
say, that figure is just shy of 10 percent.

The six capital area sites - which also include Phoenix Military
Reservation, a former Nike missile site in Baltimore County, and Walter
Reed Army Medical Center and Fort McNair in the District of Columbia -
are dealing with a host of ills, from chemical-contaminated ground water
to unexploded ordnance and medical, chemical and nuclear waste.

"Each installation will be reviewed to see if performance-based
contracting can be applied," said Robert DiMichele, spokesman for the
Army Environmental Center, the command based at the proving ground that
is overseeing the nationwide shift.

DiMichele said where current contracts are written by the government
very specifically, the new contracting method would give the contractor
more flexibility. In performance-based contracting, "we tell them, 'move
to conclusion,'" he said. "How they get there through the regulatory
procedure is more flexible."

That leeway has sparked concerns from the community and some local base

Ted Henry of the APG restoration advisory board - a group of regulators,
Army officials and the community that watches cleanup projects - said
the move appears to be a purely business decision. From the board's
perspective, he said, not much thought has been given to how the new
system will affect community input, field investigations and regulatory

"Right now, the community has some leverage over a government entity,
because taxpayers have a role," Henry said. "There won't be that kind of
leverage over a contractor."

He added: "Who's going to watch the process? How are you going to avoid
cutting corners and corruption?"

When a decision on how to clean up a site has been reached, and the
directive is clear, Henry said, fixed-price and performance-based
contracting might work. But if a site's contamination is being assessed,
he said of private contractors, "the less they find, the more money they

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