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Part of the mission of Naval Facilities Engineering Command is to deliver and maintain quality, sustainable facilities, and the Public Works Department Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Division (FEAD) at NAS Patuxent River is responsible for doing just that.

NAVFAC's FEAD, comprising the acquisition branch, project management and engineering branch (PMEB) and FSC management and facilities services branch, serves all of Pax River's tenant commands by managing the design, construction, maintenance and repair of installation facilities.

“Depending on the size of the project, there can be a long development and approval process” said Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Kwok, FEAD director.

Most new construction projects costing $750,000 or more fall under the auspices of Military Construction, referred to as MILCON, and require Congressional approval for funding, a process that can take as much as five years to complete, Kwok explained.

“Even major repair projects can take as much as two to three years to get underway,” he said, “although customers with their own budget funding can sometimes shorten the process.”

Once a construction project has been requested, vetted and approved through the proper channels, it moves to Design/Development, part of PMEB, where a request for proposal package is prepared to include conceptual drawings and design specifications. Next, the package moves to acquisition where it is solicited and a contractor is selected for project award.

Prior to construction commencing, the job is assigned to a construction manager or an engineering technician. This person, working with contracting personnel, is responsible for maintaining customer requirements while following the appropriate project management processes to ensure work is completed per the contract.

From the largest to the smallest project, the duties of PMEB include quality assurance, organizing regular progress meetings with contractors and customers, conflict resolution, on-site inspections, upholding safety requirements, and monitoring project timelines and budgets.

“There are currently 118 active construction and repair projects at Pax with a budget of $143 million overall,” said Monica Griffitt, PMEB branch head. “Thirty of those projects are budgeted at more than $500,000 each.”

Two of the largest projects currently under construction at Pax River are the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance test and evaluation facility, which includes a hangar, administrative space, communications rooms, lab spaces and a mission control system; and the Child Development Center, which will house classrooms, administrative areas, support spaces, and a kitchen. Both projects are expected for completion in spring 2013.

Other jobs include a resurfaced parking lot and new roof at building 409, and repairs to building 416 from damage sustained in the 2011 earthquake. The smallest jobs might involve replacing a building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, or replacing electrical components in a hangar.