Air Force reaches milestone with performance-based contracts

  • Published
  • By Chad Starr
  • AFCEE Public Affairs

The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment reached another milestone in implementing new Air Force policy on environmental restoration with the recent award of two large performance-based remediation contracts for environmental cleanup.

While AFCEE has used performance-based remediation since 2005, recently awarded PBCs for former Pease and Loring Air Force bases in New Hampshire and Maine, and Lackland AFB and the former Kelly AFB in Texas are the first awarded by AFCEE since Terry A. Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, directed a change in policy to focus the Air Force more on achieving accelerated site completion.

Prior to the policy change, cleanup efforts focused on achieving remedies in place and individual site remediation, practices that provided only partial cleanup solutions and often required years of expensive follow-up before the property could be returned to unrestricted use, according to Yonkers.

"We want to conduct complete cleanups where it is technically feasible and cost effective, and free up these properties to productive private or military uses," Yonkers said. "It's good for the environment, good for the landowner and good for the taxpayer."

The combined $64 million Pease/Loring and Kelly/Lackland contracts cover cleanup at 96 individual sites over a nine and a half year period of performance with Air Force oversight throughout the life of the contract. In addition to helping accelerate site completions, AFCEE has found that the new PBR focus results in other benefits.

"Prior to the contract awards, Air Force estimates showed that only 14 of the 96 sites could attain site completion status," said Rhonda Hampton, chief of the base conversion branch in AFCEE's Capital Investment Execution Division. "The new PBR approach that the Air Force is using increases that to 42 site completions, reducing the Air Force 30-year cost to complete by $29 million."

Annual operating costs will also be reduced by 75 percent, from $3.5 million to less than $900,000 upon completion of the PBRs, Hampton said.

"Successes from these awards show that the new PBR approaches are working to increase the number of site completions where no additional investment of time or money is required by the Air Force, which then leads to the goal of reducing long-term environmental liabilities," she said.

The goals, outlined by Yonkers in a Feb. 24 policy memorandum, include accelerated completion of 75 percent of all base realignment and closure sites by the end of 2012 and 90 percent by the end of 2015. It sets a target for not yet completed sites of placing 75 percent under a performance-based cleanup contract by the end of fiscal 2011 and 95 percent by the end of 2014.

For non-BRAC installations, Yonkers set a goal of accelerated completion of 50 percent of all sites by the end of fiscal 2012 and 75 percent by the end of 2015, with 60 percent of not yet completed sites under a PBC by the end of fiscal 2012 and 90 percent by the end of 2015. He also established an objective to reduce management and overhead costs to no more than 10 percent of total program costs.

Traditional contracting vehicles focused on the process or technologies for remediation activities. Performance-based contracts specify the desired outcome, allowing project managers the flexibility to take advantage of private sector innovation and creativity to drive timely results.

"Performance-based contracts allow for fence-to-fence investigation and remediation, and give the contractor flexibility in determining the best methods for treatment," said Col. Jeffrey Knippel, chief of AFCEE's Environmental Restoration Division. "This often results in the use of innovative solutions and a reduction in overall program management costs while accelerating environmental remediation and site completion."