During February’s seventh annual Stakeholder Care Workshop, Europe District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, project delivery teams met with supported commands and agencies to discuss the last year and the way forward.
Col. Matthew Tyler, district commander, kicked off the meeting with an update on Europe District’s scope of work in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command.
“As engineers, our work is critical to supporting national security and enabling U.S. policy abroad,” Tyler said. “In partnership with you, our stakeholders, Europe District is actively managing over 700 projects in 44 countries throughout the EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility.”
In the last year, the colonel explained how the district supported efforts to deter aggression in Europe through the European Reassurance Initiative. The district’s construction work supports the Air Force and Army to increase the readiness of U.S. and NATO forces. In FY16, the district designed and awarded construction of 42 projects in eight countries and oversaw the ongoing design and planning of 77 additional projects totaling $400 million.
“This is a huge program with strategic importance,” the commander said.
When Lalit Wadhwa, chief of the district’s Program Management Branch, discussed the military construction program, he listed the countries with new ERI-designated work, including Lithuania and Norway.
Other topics discussed included the more than $1 billion, multiyear Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe program to replace and renovate aging schools using the 21st-century teaching and learning model, progress on the Rhine Ordnance Barracks Medical Center, which will replace the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, an update on the European Infrastructure Consolidation Initiative, otherwise known as Europe’s BRAC (base realignment and closure) and humanitarian aid projects such as a school for the blind in Togo and the repair of a water system in Azerbaijan.
Tom Gibison, a program manager with the district, said the stakeholder workshop was a good opportunity for customers to discuss challenges in a face-to-face setting. During the 2016 meeting, program managers emphasized how using project orders gave the district flexibility in getting projects started early. And in the colonel’s welcome, he highlighted that success, telling the audience that the Corps now uses Europe District’s model of planning Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization projects one year out and constructing in the second year as a best practice.
Prior to the workshop, Europe District surveys their stakeholders in order to improve its processes and the deputy district engineer discussed the results with the attendees.
“We strive for continuous improvement,” said John Adams, deputy district engineer, as he told the audience that change requires a collaborative effort where communication is key.
For Jose Tovar, chief of DoDEA-Europe’s facilities, this was an important take away from the workshop.
“I appreciate the district’s plan to improve customer support for areas noted in the survey,” he said. “It is also interesting to see if other Europe District customers have similar concerns and how their concerns are being addressed.”
Tovar, who has attended six of the seven workshops, said he thinks they are informative and useful.
“They are great opportunities for dialog and feedback,” he said, “And I’ve always left with a sense USACE is listening.”
Tyler wrapped up the workshop by saying, “These meetings help us deliver higher quality. We owe it to you to properly deliver on your requirements.”