Fort AP Hill seeks partnerships to save time, money
The Free Lance-Star March 9, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — Fort A.P. Hill is hoping to partner with jurisdictions around the military base to save time and money on certain services, and make it worth the local government's while.
For several months, John Broughton, a Department of Defense contractor, has been working closely with the Army installation, based in Caroline County, Va., and making pitches to governments in the region. He's talked with officials in the Town of Bowling Green, Fredericksburg and Caroline, Essex, King George and Spotsylvania counties about the partnerships.
They're known as Intergovernmental Support Agreements, or IGSAs. More than 150 such agreements are in place with Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps installations and local governments, municipalities, colleges and public hospitals nationwide, Broughton said. They're saving the Department of Defense more than $40 million a year, he added.
Broughton came before the King George Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, asking if the installation could "piggyback" on the county for engineering services. King George has contracts with seven different firms in the region and Broughton hoped the county could serve as a go-between when Fort A.P. Hill needs architectural or engineering work.
The base would pass its proposal to the county, which would have a designated staff member forward it to the engineering firms. Then, once A.P. Hill officials and engineers agree on services, sign contracts and the work is done, the military base would pay the county for the work, then the county would pay the engineers. As part of the ISGA, the federal government cannot pay a private company, only public partners.
A.P. Hill would pay King George an administrative fee of 10% of the project, or whatever rate the two agree upon.
Without the agreement, the base would have to get a contract for anything above $2,500, and Broughton said the time involved can be cumbersome, especially when all that's needed is "one simple engineering requirement."
"You would be helping alleviate a significant administrative burden and be able to respond to some of these projects that Fort A.P. Hill would like to execute in a timely manner," Broughton said.
After numerous questions from supervisors, particularly about how much county staff time would be involved, four of five members were interested in seeing a draft proposal on such an agreement.
The fifth, Supervisor T.C. Collins, wanted no part of it. He said he lived in Caroline County for 10 years and the "negative" experience with the nearby military base still hasn't worn off. He said that when the operations with "big bombs" moved to the portion of A.P. Hill south of Port Royal, the explosions damaged his house, and homes of others.
"All the folks down in that region had problems with their homes, and when you'd call, they would say, sorry, tough luck," Collins said. "I would not be interested in this agreement nor would I be interested in King George County managing your contracts so you can get a better deal. Everything that I've dealt with, with A.P. Hill, has been negative."
Collins also said 10% wouldn't come close to covering the time staff would be involved. He seemed to assume the county would have to sign off on each contract proposal, both for the type of engineering work involved as well as legal issues. Instead, as Broughton explained, the county would be the agent that transferred the work order, and money, from one group to another.
County Attorney Kelly Lackey said her primary task would be negotiating the initial contract between King George and A.P. Hill on what administrative fee the county would get. She said she hadn't looked into the matter but wondered if the county would have to set up an escrow account to hold funds from the base for the work.
"My main concern would be the county fronting money for the base but it sounds like the agreement has been worked out in other jurisdictions," she said.
Supervisor Richard Granger, a scientist at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, said that he appreciated the Army's quest to find easier, and cheaper, ways to get contracted work done.
"As a federal employee, I can tell you that procurement is onerous," he said.
Then, he said he disagreed with Collins' assessment.
"At the end of the day, I would say it could definitely possibly be a benefit to the county in revenue generation," Granger said, adding it also could save the government money as well. "I mean, we all pay federal tax dollars as well."
Collins and Supervisor Cathy Binder asked why A.P. Hill officials hadn't sought a partnership with Caroline, the "home county," as Collins described it. Broughton said they had, but Caroline said the timing wasn't right.
Caroline County Administrator Charles Culley Jr. said the base was looking for help with services such as groundskeeping and maintenance, areas in which the county already struggles to hire and retain workers. He added Caroline was too small to handle some of the tasks the base was looking for the county to manage.
"This type of arrangement/partnership would work better with a city or large county," Culley wrote in an email. "The arguments simply weren't compelling enough for staff to recommend that the county get involved."
King George supervisors agreed to have their staff bring back a draft proposal of an agreement between Fort A.P. Hill and the county as well as a more precise estimate of county staff time that might be involved, per project.
Fort A.P. Hill was established in 1941 and has become the Joint Force's "premier all-purpose, year-round, training destination," according to the base's website. It includes 76,000 acres of diverse terrain, including a 27,000-acre complex for live fire.
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