Funds already flowing for Guam buildup
April 6, 2009
TOKYO — When the United States and Japan agreed in 2006 to move 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, a succession of public meetings, task forces, proposed legislation, and — dare we say it? — PowerPoint slide shows ensued.
Now, three years later, the promise of billions of dollars in military investment still hovers over Guam, and shovels are more than a year from going into the ground, military officials say.
Yet, while everyone waits for congressional approval of money and a final environmental impact statement, the U.S. military already has designated up to $165 million for the buildup, according to Navy officials.
The spending authorization began in May 2006, less than a month after U.S. and Japanese officials figured out how to split the costs of moving the III Marine Expeditionary Force from Okinawa to Guam, according to Pentagon contract records.
Back then, the Pentagon awarded a $40 million contract to Tec Inc. Joint Venture of Charlottesville, Va., to help the military write the required environmental impact statement and a project master plan, said Gary Damaschi, the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific’s point man on the project.
Earlier this year, the cap for that contract grew to $65 million, Navy spokesman Don Rochon said.
In October, the military agreed to another contract with a $100 million cap. They hired Pacific Program-Design Management Services out of Pasadena, Calif., to help the military write the architecture and engineering specifications it will need to award construction projects, said Damaschi.
"It’s to take inventory of the infrastructure of possible sites," said Catherine Cruz Norton, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s engineering command on Guam. "It’s about coming up with a framework for the requirements."
So far, the Navy has allotted $12.1 million to Pacific Program-Design in four payments. The most recent was $5.7 million in March to determine construction needs on Navy bases in Finegayan and at Apra Harbor, Cruz Norton said.
Other parts went to the California company to plan for housing for transient workers, she said.
The military expects it will need workers from outside of Guam to complete the project, which will nearly triple the number of military servicemembers and workers on Guam.
Both contracts bring in private-sector experts to help the military survey land, study the environment, inventory current utilities and roads, and create a foundation to write future contracts, the Navy officials said.
Both also allow for spending in Hawaii, home to the military’s Pacific Command, and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where the military envisions training sites for the Marines.
The overall buildup plan on Guam includes the move of the Marines, the addition of an Army air defense unit and improvements to Navy facilities to accommodate frequent visits from aircraft carriers.
The military cannot award construction contracts until the environmental impact statement is approved.
Approval is expected in early 2010, said Marine Capt. Neil Ruggiero, spokesman for the Joint Guam Program Office.
It’s also possible the military won’t spend the entire $165 million already authorized, Damaschi said.
"The scope of the contracts … is to give us flexibility in case we need it," said Ralph Naito, director of the engineering command’s Pacific architecture and engineering contracts division.