News Stories

Chief of Engineers, LTG Robert Van Antwerp highlights USACE environmental successes on Earth Day

Published April 29, 2008

   On the 38th anniversary of Earth Day, I want to share with you how the US Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to transform how it provides reimbursable environmental services to ensure we are providing our customers with the consistent, efficient and effective services and products they expect and deserve.  This is especially appropriate and in keeping with this year’s Earth Day theme: “Sustaining the Environment for a Secure Future.”

    Our goal is to align ourselves to execute our environmental mission by taking advantage of the assets, workforce capabilities and resources found within our Environmental Community of Practice to focus on national program initiatives while strengthening the Corps’ environmental programs.  We have coordinated this “transformation” message with all our environmental customers, including the Army Secretariat, to ensure we’re meeting their expectations.

    This initiative is part of our continuing USACE Environmental Transformation efforts with our next step focusing on the Environmental Quality (EQ) program and ultimately addressing the remainder of our reimbursable environmental programs.

   The Environmental Quality program includes services formerly identified in the Army environmental pillars of compliance, conservation and pollution prevention.  The EQ program includes products such as the National Environmental Policy Act documentation (including environmental assessments and environmental impact statements), the Environmental Performance Assessment System, and military conservation and compliance efforts, such as archaeological evaluations, historic building surveys, and pest management, among others.  This program supports Army compliance and sustainability programs.  

   The Installation Management Command’s Army Environmental Command (AEC) also is transforming Environmental Quality, from a compliance-based approach to a sustainability paradigm, with new supporting business practices such as strategic sourcing to leverage the buying power of the Army to maximize available funding. The Corps’ efforts are designed so we are mutually supporting to our AEC partners. 

 To that end, the Corps and AEC have been synchronizing efforts and updating our partnering agreement to better reflect an enhanced working relationship and allow us to transform programs together.  The agreement calls for conducting formal semi-annual meetings and establishing an Executive Liaison to maintain overall communications and coordination.  This will enhance our support to installation cleanup and restoration, base closure, unexploded ordnance and range sustainment, research and development, pollution prevention, conservation and compliance activities.  The updated agreement was signed by the commander of the Army Environmental Command and the acting chief of the USACE Environmental Community of Practice on Friday, April 18.

   Furthermore, we’re continuing the “transformation” of how we provide environmental program services.  The USACE Environmental Program Transformation will:

* optimize regional environmental support capabilities and restructure Headquarters to achieve consistent, efficient and effective services for our reimbursable customers;

* develop standard business processes for customer costs and to enhance our suite of contracting tools;

* seek opportunities to better use liaisons and virtual teams when working internally and with our customers and partners; and,

implement annual regional and national listening and exchange workshops with our customers.

    Because the Corps’ environmental programs are diverse, we feel that to be more consistent, effective and efficient we need to look at managing these programs regionally.  This approach will enhance the environmental services our Nation expects the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to bring in response to local disasters and in support of war fighters.

    This “transformation” is the next rational step forward in achieving sustainability and consistency with our other recent environmental program transformation initiatives. 

  • In 2004, we created the Contract Acquisition Working Group with AEC and other customers as members;
  • In 2006, we transformed the Formerly Used Defense Sites program;

* In 2006, we established a Military Munitions Support Services strategy; and,

* In 2007, we merged the Hazardous, Toxic and Radioactive Waste and Military Munitions Centers of Expertise into the new Environmental and Munitions Center of Expertise.

    This year, we’re working with AEC to “transform” the Environmental Quality program by October with initial operating capability in early fiscal year 2009, and full operating capability in early fiscal year 2010.  In the future we will continue to transform our other reimbursable environmental programs, such as the Defense Environmental Restoration Program and Superfund programs.

    You will be seeing more about these “transformation” initiatives in the coming months as we work them with our partners.  It’s appropriate to talk about transforming our environmental program on Earth Day and as we support the Army’s Sustainability Strategy, which includes sustaining the mission, environment, and community.  Likewise, we’re looking to the future with our continuing transformation initiatives to make our environmental programs more consistent, efficient, effective and sustainable.