A joint venture (JV) between two quality merit shop federal contractors, Straub Construction, Inc. and Martin Harris Construction, successfully designed and built a parking facility and Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California.
This large-scale design/build federal project, valued at more than $100 million, provides premium living facilities for over 1,150 Marines with modern amenities including a 550 space parking facility, amphitheater and multiple indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. The three, four-story BEQ buildings are energy efficient with solar panels that offset 90 percent of the buildings’ energy expenditures – a USGBC LEED Platinum certified sustainable project. These cutting-edge housing quarters provide our heroes with the 21st century comforts of home.
Under the extreme conditions of the Mojave Desert, the JV delivered a design/build project that improved the morale of Marines stationed at the Combat Center and kept an almost identical architectural pattern to existing buildings. The project was completed on-time and within budget despite $25 million in client initiated change orders and facility user requests and upgrades. The JV served as the prime contractor of this project and had the ability to self-perform many projects on their own. However, they used experienced small business contractors to exceed NAVFAC’s small business utilization goals.
With a proven commitment to safety, the JV completed this project with zero accidents in 547,487 man-hours worked. They also developed a site-specific safety and health policy manual and held weekly toolbox safety meetings with employees.
Alberto Equihua, Capital Improvements Design Manager for NAVFAC Southwest, commended the BEQ project and said, “This project raised the bar and improved the marines quality of life on bachelor enlisted housing. Straub’s management and design team were really proactive in accommodating many design changes requested by the government design team without incurring any additional cost.”
This project was so successful it was awarded a National Excellence in Construction Eagle Award at the 23rd annual Excellence in Construction (EIC) Awards hosted by Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC). The project took top honors in the Mega-Projects ($100-$200 million) category.
In recognition of the project, ABC president and CEO Michael Bellaman said, “ABC is proud to recognize Straub-Martin Harris for its outstanding work on the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters & Parking Structure project. This project embodies a commitment to innovation, safety and superior craftsmanship through creativity and skill.”
Built without a government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA), this project demonstrates what the federal government already knows about merit shop contractors: They deliver value to taxpayers with on-time, on-budget and safe construction projects.
From 2001 until it was repealed by President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009, pro-PLA Executive Order 13502, President George W. Bush’s Executive Orders No. 13202 and 13208 ensured there were no government-mandated PLAs on $147 billion worth of federal construction projects and hundreds of billions of dollars of federally assisted construction projects. Research found there were no labor-related problems on federal projects as a result of a lack of PLA mandates.
It was just as true then as it is now: There is no justification for government-mandated PLAs. Open competition works and merit shop contractors deliver value to taxpayers and owners.
The only reason for a government-mandated PLA is to steer construction contracts via a PLA to special interests benefiting from these unfortunate crony contracting schemes.
This project shows how taxpayers benefit when politics stay out of federal contracting.