Life Cycle Cost- Appropriations Strategy for increased MILCON Projects
In late 2008 the Masonry First Coalition of Washington State was formed in order to recapture masonry market share at our local bases, including Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM). In approximately, 2003, Ft. Lewis began utilizing a 25 year lifecycle as well as, metal stud buildings covered with products other than the masonry products, which historically was the first choice for construction for this base since its earliest days. Our initial goal was to:
- Highlight this short sided trend with our elected leaders and seek their support to address this important issue costing taxpayers money and our industry jobs
- Ensure masonry was not at a disadvantage on DoD projects, focusing on .future JBLM projects of which $470 million had been planned through 2012, a historically high funding amount; and
- Ensure Lifecycle considerations of 50 years be given to all future military construction spending projects not only in Washington State but nationwide.
Nationally, this issue has continued to linger for two consecutive MILCON cycles because of the delay in the GAO report and the lack of attention from the Corps to Sec. 2801. This has resulted in a continued decline in use of masonry products on many local bases. Add to this the fact that the proposed FY11 MILCON budget is 8.4% higher than last years and is considered the high water mark for MILCON in the near future – meaning that further delay in legislative action could result in significant additional decline in the use of masonry products on all bases. This is costing our country and industry jobs and is allowing the Corps to build subpar facilities, costing taxpayers money in construction cost, energy cost and quality of life for our service members.
In March 2010, NCMA, MCAA and the Masonry First Coalition discussed the need for firm and directive life cycle cost language to protect the Masonry Industry and that it is time to move toward an Appropriations strategy to protect our jobs and industry from further damage by the inaction of the Corps and DoD.
The Masonry First Coalition is in a unique position to help finally drive this issue to a positive solution for our industry because our lobbyist, Tim Thompson, Thompson Smitch Consulting, has a close professional relationship with three key members of Congress. Tim is a former Chief of Staff for Congressman Norm Dicks who is Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Congressman Dicks is also the top pick to become Chairman over the entire House Appropriations Committee as the current Chairman David Obey is retiring. Tim is also very close with Senator Patty Murray who is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and fourth in the Senate Leadership. Finally, he has a great connection with Congressman Adam Smith who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and represents JBLM and who has been working with our group for two years now on this issue. Tim and his firm have been integral to our ability to continue building our case for change and our relationships with these important members of congress during the last two years and for the last year during a time when our local coalition did not have Thompson Smitch on retainer.
The Masonry First Coalition agreed to fund re-engaging Thompson Smitch for 90 days and possibly longer in order to reengage and try and gain traction on whether Congressman Dicks would champion the cause which would ensure immediate Appropriations action and a permanent change of philosophy by the Army during the 2011 MILCON Appropriations distribution. Our Coalition in concert with NCMA and MCAA have developed lifecycle cost language and a strategy to address this issue in this year MILCON cycle in order to say jobs and ensure DoD and the Corps of Engineers use the best possible products with the longest service life on our nation’s bases.
We are working with Senator Murray in the Senate and she is interested in working with us. Other key targets include Sen Cantwell (WA), Sen. Inouye (HI), Sen. Durbin (IL) and Cong Larsen (WA). As you can see the Washington State congressional delegation is in a great position to led this issue in congress.
It is critical that our Coalition execute our lifecycle cost language and a strategy in a timely and strategic fashion in order to reverse the current trend. The Washington Congressional delegation has indicated they are willing to put forth our Coalitions language stating that the Army will proceed with 50 year lifecycle for future military construction spending until they have provided just cause that can prove otherwise.
The purpose of this letter is to reach out to all masonry contractors, manufacturers and interested industry partners for two reasons:
- To provide information as to our efforts to reach key decision makers and articulate the lifecycle cost savings message gained in utilizing masonry, be it longevity, protection, energy, and green advantages of masonry.
- To solicit financial support to continue our efforts for an additional six months. To date, our local coalition partners have committed more than $75,000 specifically to this issue. If, we are to continue this effort, which we believe we can successfully complete by years end due to our current relationships, we need additional funding and support to complete the job and ensure the Masonry First Coalition
We believe the timing is right for making this happen now and we would like everyone’s participation as well consideration for a financial contribution to this effort. Current contributions range from $500 -$7,500. We will briefly discuss the financing and budgeting of this effort during the phone conference on the 15th.
Please contact me if you have any questions or would like any information incorporated into the conference call. We would like to take this opportunity to be as concise and productive as possible while making sure all everyone is aware of the many moving parts.
Please RSVP to me at 425-827-5517 if you will attend the conference call and I will forward the call-in number, password and presentation materials. Thank you for your time and interest.
About the Author
Tonia Sorrell-Neal is the Executive Director for the Washington State Conference of Mason Contractors.