Three US contractors – Washington Group International, Fluor Intercontinental and the Perini Corporation – were each awarded indefinite duration/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts on 1 April. They call for the contractors to provide a full range of design and construction services throughout a range of locations in the Centcom area. Though this covers Africa and the Middle East, the new contracts are expected to support US Army operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Centcom is headquartered at Mackdill Airforce Base in Tampa, Florida and has a forward base in Doha, from where it is running the war in Iraq.

Under the contracts, any construction services required by Centcom between now and 1 April 2004 will be offered to the three contractors through task orders issued by USACE. Where possible, the three will be asked to compete for the task orders to ensure a competitive price. But if the location, complexity or urgency of the work makes this impractical, USACE says it will issue a task order to only one firm. The contractors are each guaranteed a minimum of $500,000 worth of work under the terms of the one-year deals, which have a maximum value of $100 million.

The work under each task order will be paid for by the US government organisation requiring the work. This could be the US Department of Defense, other US government agencies or the US Security Assistance Fund for other governments.

A USACE spokeswoman said it had issued the contracts because it expected urgent work to come out of Centcom in the next year. ‘We anticipate we could be required to provide facilities to support contingency needs for Central Command, based on our experience. So we wanted the contracts in place. We actually expect task orders to be issued in the next two-three months, though we can’t identify upcoming work,’ she said.

It is widely anticipated the deals will include work to support the US Army in Iraq, although USACE said it was unable to confirm or deny this. ‘It is premature for us to say if any of the work coming out of these contracts will be in Iraq,’ the spokeswoman added.

Request for proposal documents for the contingency contracts were sent to 12 US contractors on 26 February under special ‘expedited contract award’ procedures only allowed by the US Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) in the event that ‘unusual and compelling urgency’ is required (MEED 7:3:03). Originally, USACE said up to five contracts could be awarded, but it now believes three will be sufficient to cover Centcom’s workload in the next 12 months.