NRM projects completed in the 50's and 60's and even before that were operated almost completely by government employees. Maintenance crews of 50-75 individuals were not uncommon. Gradually as these staffs have dwindled to very low numbers, their duties have been assumed by contractors. Many large projects now have government maintenance staffs of 0-5 and a contract workforce of 50 or more. During this time O&M contracts have evolved in order to accomplish the increased workload and be affordable at the same time. Along with that, the NRM professional's job has included contract administration duties to a greater and greater extent in order to be successful.
This process didn't occur over night; in fact, it started 30-35 years ago and isn't finished yet. Contracts now are as simple or as sophisticated as needed to perform effectively. Most projects started with a simple fixed price contract for one task (mowing, cleaning, etc.) for a single recreation area for one year. Later some projects procured one-task contracts that included all recreation areas, then added multi-task or umbrella type contracts that have one contractor performing almost all duties for all recreation areas on a project. Now, contractors are paid to provide management of their own work with incentives to ensure they perform effectively and efficiently. They can also be cost-reimbursable with incentive fees and are awarded for a period of up to 15 years with a total cost of over $20 million. These O&M contracts perform just about every maintenance job on a project for NRM, as well as Navigation.
In 1995 many Operations Project Managers (OPMs) across the country completed the necessary training and received $25,000 contracting warrants. A few years later, warrants for a few OPMs were increased to $50,000. The vast majority of small service and supply contracts were then procured in the field, thus reducing Contracting costs and expediting the acquisition process. This had proven especially effective during the year-end expenditure process when oftentimes funds become available, but with a very abbreviated time frame for execution. Our highly motivated field teams were often able to deliver an award in less than a week at a time whenever Contracting was swamped with other initiatives. However, all OPM Contracting Officer Warrants were terminated in 2011 and this option for small procurements is no longer available.
Two training courses were developed in the 70's and 80's to address the increased emphasis on O&M contracting for NRM professionals. "Administration of O&M Contracts" introduces employees to the basics of contracts and contract administration. "Administration of O&M Contracts, Advanced" exposes attendees to a variety of contract types used for O&M services around the Corps and more in-depth administration procedures.
Below is a chronology of the evolution of O&M contracting at NRM projects.
||Single-task Procurements and Government Crews|
||Multi-task Contracts and Government Crews|
||Project-wide Multi-task Contracts and Reduced Government Crews, Contractors Provide Management|
||Expanded-tasks Contracts with Management and Government Crews, Near Zero Government Crews, OPM Warrants|
||Award Term Contracts, Performance-based Contracting|
||OPM Warrants Terminated in 2011|