Leaders In Partnering

For over 91 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

Oct 18 2018 … the Rock Island District Team delivered professionally and engaged with substantive, thoughtful questions and answers to help improve our delivery of projects.  Beth White and Barb Lester were extremely helpful in making sure the engagement was one that provided the best use of time and most productive in its delivery. 

Our Contractors are invested in making our Nation economically productive and delivering water infrastructure so that our national security is bolstered, and America’s reliable interconnected water transportation is available for regional and global commerce.  Our Nation’s water superhighway overlaid with rail, road and airports provide a delivery system that’s the envy of the world.

While Small Business and other conferences can be helpful … it is most productive when companies can make connections in the region of work with specialist, owners, and experienced contractors and subcontractors in the specific disciplines, so they can connect and offer their expertise for the specific construction project and site.  Our 100-year history has proven that companies, people and their professional knowledge with professional experience, the right equipment, and technology produce better bids and results in projects delivered safely, on time and within budget.

As Mr. Jamey Sanders mentioned at our Rock Island partnering session … an AGC national review requested by LTG Todd Semonite, Chief of Engineers, in October 2017 is complete and provides data and recommendations that can help improve our Nation’s delivery of construction. 

The report is available on-line. There are graphs and charts with specific real-time data in the report but for now the following are a few recommendations that align with guiding principles:  

  • Desired outcomes are achieved through collective trust
  • Communication and expectation alignment
  • Timely decision making is a commitment of all project stakeholders to provide the right people, expertise and authority to solve collective problems in the most expedient manner
  • Ensure timely payment of work performed so as not to financially burden private industry especially small businesses (SB’s are the vast majority of construction prime and subcontractors)
  • Using best practices is essential to attract industry
  • Increasing the use of partnering at every level from the field up will help achieve mutual desired outcomes and collective trust

Enclosed are a few of the items that were voiced and discussed during our MVAGC-USACE Rock Island District session in Rock Island, IL. 

We appreciate the strong commitment, leadership and service of the Rock Island District Team.  Our value to the nation is measured by the successful, efficient and effective delivery of construction projects on time and within budget.  It takes hard work to build a Nation … we’ve only just begun.  Let’s build it safely. 

Rock Island District Partnering Meeting Notes 2018

USACE Directors Partnering Memo 2017

Stephen Gambrell, Associated General Contractors of America


During 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.