Preparing for the Tsunami of projects from the American Jobs Plan
April 16, 2021
By Peg Landry
On March 31, 2021, the White House released a new infrastructure plan, “The American Jobs Plan”, and it’s aggressive. The plan includes almost two trillion in spending for a broad range of infrastructure projects. The plan is expected to pass sometime this summer, and there is no doubt that it will have a significant impact on the construction industry.
One of the main goals of the plan is to rebuild United States infrastructure to compete in the global economy.
“The United States of America is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we rank 13th when it comes to the overall quality of our infrastructure.”America Jobs Plan Fact Sheet
In addition, The Plan also has a major focus on creating good paying union jobs, addressing climate change, and racial inequality issues.
What’s in the plan?
The entire construction industry will benefit from this unprecedented investment. New jobs are expected to be created for urban development planners, architects, engineers, and a range of trades.
For example, we traditionally consider infrastructure as roads, bridges, and rails, but the plan also has a significant amount of funding targeted towards “building, preserving, and retrofitting more than two million homes and commercial buildings, schools and child care facilities, and upgrade of veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings.”
AEC firms, large and small, will compete for projects led by Federal Government agencies. Firms that can demonstrate that they can deliver high quality, climate-friendly infrastructure projects on time and budget will win.
What can you do now to position your firm to compete?
There is time to prepare for the wave of new infrastructure projects that will hit over the next few years. Federal Government agencies may set requirements for structured, auditable, and secure data. It may be a good time for AEC firms to look at how project data is managed.
Here are some steps you can take now.
Market your firm’s capabilities.
The Government Contractor’s Association, “CHEAT SHEET – 12 STEPS TO WINNING GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS”, outlines steps that AEC firms can take to market to the Federal Government.
For instance, government agencies will look at your capabilities statement. Your statement should include your core competencies, expertise, and differentiators. So your investment in technology, including systems for managing project information, could be a game changer.
Focus on governance, standards, and controls.
Government is big on rules, regulations, compliance, standards, and transparency. If you have a system in place that can ease the burden of documentation you will be steps ahead. Review your current systems for managing project information including document control, Building Information Management, and field management.
KPMG’s 2019 survey of the construction industry show that leading construction industry firms focus heavily on governance and controls.
“ Innovative leaders (the top 20 percent) are significantly ahead when it comes to governance and controls: 69 percent have integrated project management reporting systems, with multiple tools, for projects and portfolios. Just 33 percent of Followers and a mere 7 percent of Behind the curve players can say the same.”KPMG Future-ready Index: Leaders and Follower in the Engineering and Construction Industry, Global Construction Survey 2019
In addition, many government contracts now include requirements for Building Information Modeling. Europe is pushing the ISO 19650 standard for improving quality through data management standards. If the United States follow suit with new wave of projects from the American Jobs Plan, it might be worth preparing now vs. later. You can get a jump start on compliance to these requirements by reviewing the ISO 19650 standard and evaluating areas for improvement.
Regardless of the outcome of the American Jobs Plan, investments in these areas will pay off.
Consider going green.
The American Jobs Plan includes at least $1 trillion in spending in sectors that fall under climate change and clean energy.
Consequentially, certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) may come into play.
“LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.” U.S.U.S. Green Building Council
Implementing a system to organize and categorize LEED documentation can help demonstrate compliance with all mandatory prerequisites.
Don’t overlook risk mitigation.
You may also want to prepare for the onslaught of oversight. Government agencies are more risk adverse when taxpayer dollars are at stake. You can prepare ahead of time by looking at the controls you have in place to any track changes to the project that impact budget and schedule. Many firms rely solely on email threads for this type of documentation. It may be a good time to review and improve your email policies and management capabilities. Automated project information systems can help you quickly find information buried in emails and email attachments. This positions you to be able to respond to any inquiries from a Federal Government agency.
Consider information security requirements.
Given the types of projects that are included in The American Jobs Plan, broadband, internet, power grid, etc., information security should be a main consideration. Federal Government agencies may impose requirements on where you store information, how you store information, and for how long – data storage and retention requirements.
However, not all infrastructure will fall under the Department of Defense but other agencies may follow suit. For example, the Department of Defense has implemented a new initiative focused on securing the National Supply Chain. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a new certification model designed to verify that DoD contractors comply with cybersecurity requirements.
“Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said the new cybersecurity maturity model certification program is a critical part of ensuring that companies hoping to do business with the department meet important cybersecurity requirements.”DoD News, Cybersecurity Requirements Likely for Defense Contracts by June 2020.
AEC firms should be aware of new requirements for government certifications in areas including IT policies, how data handled and by whom, and data that is moving between countries.
Will the Plan morph as it heads through Congress?
Most likely yes. There will be a major debate in Congress on what to invest in or how to pay for it. Although The Plan may not pass at the proposed spending level, the momentum behind infrastructure investment is increasing.
The American Jobs Plan may be a catalyst for change across the AEC industry. Your firm will realize a return on technology infrastructure investment across current and future projects.
Newforma consulting author Sebastian Barthelmess, has over the past 20 years experience helping to pioneer security development at Samsung and Blackberry. Sebastian has worked directly with Raytheon, the US Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on critical security projects specializing in both mobile and enterprise security.
For more information on the American Jobs please visit: American Jobs Plan Fact Sheet.
For more information on Newforma's Project Information Management visit Our Solutions.