For over 89 years the Mississippi Valley Branch has been the construction partner for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Mississippi Valley. For most of those years the relationship was an informal one and very few contracts were formally partnered. On February 13, 1995 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Associated General Contractors of America executed a national partnering agreement outlining a commitment to work together to provide efficient, high quality, responsive construction services to the Nation.
At the February 1999 Branch Annual Meeting a serious dialogue was initiated on how to energize partnering between AGC and the Corps of Engineers in the Mississippi Valley; an Issue Resolution Committee was formed to address the matter. One important outcome of this effort was a facilitated partnering meeting held between Mississippi Valley AGC and the Mississippi Valley Division, Corps of Engineers in Olive Branch, MS on January 20–21, 2000. An MVD/MVAGC formal partnering agreement was executed by the leadership of the two organizations on January 21, 2000. With olive branches extended, the two organizations agreed to utilize the core values of trust, responsibility and understanding to foster development of a safe work environment; clear, mutual goals; open communication; expedient problem solving; strong, effective relationships; and teamwork in order to provide efficient, best quality and responsive construction services in support of the Valley and the Nation. This event laid a firm foundation for extensive use of partnering in the Mississippi Valley. The Partnering Issue Resolution Committee became a standing committee at the February 2000 Branch Annual Meeting to continually monitor and maintain the partnership.
On October 11–12, 2007 a subsequent partnering meeting was held at Olive Branch, MS to secure commitments from the new leaders of the two organizations. As leaders of the two organizations change over time, it was agreed that a periodic renewal of the previous commitments among the new leaders was necessary in order to maintain an effective partnership. The facilitated meeting focused on a review of the partnering history and the partnering agreement while reconfirming the commitment to an effective partnership. The attendees developed an action plan that included follow-up actions. One action item that was adopted immediately was to add the following language to the partnering agreement: “We are dedicated to safety education, accident prevention, and ensuring a safe working environment.” Subsequent to the meeting, the facilitators provided a Partnering Report to capture the discussions, action plan, and follow-up actions.
February 2015 MVD/MVAGC Partnering Session
In conjunction with the 2015 Mississippi Valley Construction Roundtable the Mississippi Valley Division, Corps of Engineers, and the Mississippi Valley Branch AGC held a partnering session. The session was facilitated by Mr. Robert Schearer and Dr. Jeanne Maes, Mitchell School of Business, University of South Alabama. The condensed partnering session focused on identifying elements of the original (2000) and revisited (2007) partnering agreement that were in need of revitalization. Discussion followed on actions to revitalize those elements of the partnering agreement. All in attendance were afforded an opportunity to sign or intial (if previously signed) the two (MVD and MVAGC) copies of the original partnering agreement.
17th Street and London Avenue Temporary Pumping Capacity Project
This project is the recipient of the 2009 Dan W. Renfro Partnering Award and involved a time critical design build project for construction of the temporary pumping stations at 17th Street and London Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the conclusion of the project an after action report was conducted to capture important lessons learned. Two critical events in the partnering process were aligning the Team and conducting the Partnering Session. This very successful partnership demonstrated how to achieve expedited decision-making without sacrificing safety and quality.
Field Level Partnering
At the 2011 Annual Meeting the Mississippi Valley Branch and the Mississippi Valley Division, Army Corps of Engineers, decided to actively promote partnering at the field level by scheduling a facilitated partnering session between the Greenwood Area Office, Vicksburg District, and its construction contractors. The partnering session was held in Greenwood, MS in April 2011. Issues were identified and action items were developed for future resolution. Additionally, in July 2012 a field level partnering session was held at Alton, IL between the St. Louis District and its construction contractors. As before, action items were developed for future resolution. Most recently, in November 2014 a field level partnering session was held between the New Orleans District and its construction contractors. This partnering meeting focused on partnering principles at the field level instead of action items. These partnering sessions have identified impediments to field level partnering as well as ways to remove impediments, resolve action items, and enhance the overall partnering attitude on the jobsite.