Event Recap: Capital Week 2024

The 2024 Capital Week, brought 650 attendees together at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center to support the SAME Foundation, gain insights on upcoming programs across the uniformed services and federal agencies, and discuss pressing issues facing the A/E/C industry.

It’s All About Risk

With that strategy is understanding that we don’t accomplish anything without industry, without our partners.”

Zeb Fox, DBA, SES, Associate Executive Director, Office of Facilities Acquisition, Department of Veterans

Cap Week events began Monday morning with the second annual IGE Summit. Bringing industry and government together is core to SAME’s mission and forming partnerships and working together is the only way we will effectively confront the pressing engineering challenges before us. During the IGE Summit, attendees split into three separate groups: Collaborative Delivery and Federal Projects, Installations of the Future: George Jetson Meets Nuts and Bolts, and Joint Engineering Challenges & Solutions. Through discussions and hands-on exercises, the sessions covered everything from project delivery to long term installation planning but the theme that each session returned to was “risk.”

Managing risk, sharing risk and setting realistic project expectations can only be achieved through the collaboration and engagement which is the focus of the summit. Attendees found the IGE Summit an open and candid forum to engage government and private industry on the subject of risk and to consider solutions to keep the dialog moving forward. The second IGE Summit was a unique and effective tool to advance the goals of Industry-Government Engagement and to showcase SAME’s commitment as a nexus to building the critical relationships that will help guarantee our national security.

An Evening for the SAME Foundation

Capital Week festivities continued when over 600 attendees gathered Monday night for a fundraising reception in support of the SAME Foundation. While enjoying drinks and an impressive spread of food, attendees had the opportunity to participate in the first silent auction benefitting the SAME Foundation sponsored by the Academy of Fellows. Supporters had the opportunity to bid for donated items and experiences like vacation destinations, dining experiences, sporting event tickets, handmade jewelry and gifts, and other one-of-a-kind SAME items and experiences. On Tuesday, the auction had helped to raise over $37,000 for the Foundation. 100 percent of all ticket and auction proceeds will benefit the SAME Foundation and its Leader Development Program, Camps Mentoring Program, and STEM Pathways Program

These programs target students and mid-career professionals to ensure the nation maintains a pipeline of dedicated STEM professionals ready to address the grand challenges of the future. Through these world-class programs featuring hands-on training, activities, discussions, mentoring, and more, the SAME Foundation is driving the development of the next generation of military, government, and industry leaders our nation needs.

Streamlining Processes

On Tuesday, the General session featured executive leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, U.S. Air Force, and Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss their upcoming programs, and where members could contribute. Panel member reiterated a theme that the old ways of planning and conducting work would no longer suffice. Changes to the fundamental methods of operation are needed to deliver projects with greater cost controls, more speed and flexibility, and reconsidered risk profiles.

Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, PMP, USA, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, USACE, began the session by relaying the Corps efforts to understand and get after the underlying challenges to keeping projects costs down. The Corps that is actively pursuing those challenges and looking for ways to address them, with, as Spellmon explained, “some fundamental changes in the way we go about executing our military construction mission.”

Changes to processes were not the sole purview of USACE. Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey, P.E., CEC, USN, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, and Chief of Civil Engineers noted that NAVFAC’s investment in large scale shore infrastructure projects across the Pacific to anticipate and meet the Great Power Competition challenges across the region will take partnership and governance. Process changes for such initiatives will require more agility, more collaboration and more flexibility.

“We have a huge appetite for understanding what we can do better—and the aperture is wide open.”

Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey, P.E., CEC, USN, Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, and Chief of Civil Engineers 

Todd Wynn, Chief, Facilities Division, Directorate of Civil Engineers, HQ U.S. Air Force pointed out that 29 percent of its facilities around the world are over 60 years old. In order to get after modernizing these facilities, the Air Force is reshaping, refocusing, and reoptimizing their approach to managing projects in varieties of scale. Partnership with private industry is critical to ongoing efforts across the Pacific to build up deterrence capabilities and address the challenges of manpower and logistics when working in such a large geographic area with many remote locations.

The final agency providing an outlook on their way ahead during the General Session was the Department of Veterans Affairs. Zeb Fox, DBA, SES, Associate Executive Director, Office of Facilities Acquisition (Office of Construction & Facilities Management), noted that the VA was also focused on changes to their planning, acquisition, and delivery to better control cost and schedule for their projects. The VA faces unique challenges with their aging facilities that could threaten the ability to provide world-class health care to our nations veterans. Many facilities are past the point of small project upgrades, and fall under the widened scope of complete replacement. The complexity and urgency of many projects further highlights the importance of mutual trust, efficient processes and deeper partnerships.

The day’s morning briefings ended with a Networking Luncheon where Jackie Robinson-Burnette, Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting & Business Development, provided an update on efforts underway at the Small Business Administration to advance and expand opportunities for small businesses in federal contracting. Robinson-Burnette spoke on SBA efforts to streamline the application system and speed the time required for certifications.

Program briefings picked up after lunch and continued into the afternoon. A networking happy hour closed out a full day, and allowed attendees to make new connections and catch up with fellow SAME members.

On Wednesday, the final day of Cap Week, the Ukraine Work Group Update session convened to discuss working or contemplating work in Ukraine. The group discussed U.S. and industry participation in the reconstruction of Ukraine after Russia’s invasion two years prior. Once hostilities subside, Ukraine will need help rebuilding critical infrastructure, and the U.S government and private industry are leaning forward to plan for that eventuality.

SAME’s annual Capitol Week is an exclusive event for SAME members, and serves to bring together industry professionals, government executives and thought leaders to address national and global security issues in an environment which is uniquely suited for this purpose. Cap Week 2024 successfully fulfilled its mission with more than two days of informational sessions, intense discussions and hands-on experiences. Don’t miss Cap Week next year, and join us for a continuation of many of these important topics at JETC in Orlando, Fla., May14-16!

Read more about what happened at Cap Week with our Daily Recap Emails below.

Read More from Capital Week 2024

Daily Recap Emails: March 26 | March 27