When the existing contract between the city of Monterey, Calif., and the Presidio of Monterey that governs the city’s delivery of base operation services to the Army runs out at the end of the year, very little will change on the surface.
The city will continue to supply the Presidio a range of support services — including engineering services and maintenance functions for facilities, streets, storm drains, grounds, and fire alarm and detection systems — on a cost-reimbursement basis. But Jan. 1 will mark the transition from a contract based on the Federal Acquisition Regulation to an arrangement that takes advantage of the authority enacted in the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill allowing military installations and their host communities to enter into intergovernmental support agreements (IGSAs) for base support services.
Following more than a year of discussions, the city signed a five-year IGSA with the Presidio earlier this month. The shift from a traditional contracting relationship, which began in 1998 under special legislation, to a “true partnership,” will have multiple benefits, says Michael McCarthy, Monterey’s city manager.
One advantage will be flexibility. “We’re free to work with them and see what makes sense for both [parties],” McCarthy told On Base. “It will allow us take on new projects as the Army sees fit. … The Army could even provide us services,” he said.
The IGSA also will provide Monterey the flexibility to find more efficient ways of delivering support services. “We can be creative and find savings” without needing to change a “hard contract,” McCarthy explained. Of course, the Army still would need to approve any changes.
Overall, the new agreement — which is expected to have an annual volume of contracted services ranging from $8 million to $10 million — should ease the administrative burden associated with operating under a federal contract. “I think things will just go more quickly as far as approval on projects,” he said.
Other defense communities considering entering into an IGSA with a local installation should start small and build on initial successes, McCarthy said. “Don’t rush into something big because you want to save the Army $1 million,” he said. “There’s a trust that needs to be established.”
The Monterey IGSA is not the Army’s first under the new legislation, but because it covers almost every facet of base operations and maintenance, McCarthy and the service believe it can serve as a model for other locations.
At the same time, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, cautioned that the partnership in Monterey is unique, partially due to the Presidio’s location. Because the entire installation is located within the heart of Monterey, delivering services to the Presidio is as convenient for city employees as serving any other location within the city, Hammack explained. Many other Army communities are located at some distance from the post’s main cantonment area, cutting into the efficiencies an installation and community can gain by sharing municipal services.
The relative size disparity between the two entities, with the city several times larger than the Presidio, also contributes to the partnership’s success. That difference allows the city to take advantage of economies of scale, she said. The Presidio is not so large that the city needs to make a significant investment in new equipment to serve it but, rather, the additional workload allows the city to more fully utilize its workforce and equipment.
At many locations an Army post may dwarf its host community, precluding the municipality from taking advantage of economies of scale to efficiently support the installation.
“As we look, we do not see another exact replication of Monterey at this point in time,” Hammack told On Base.
The longstanding partnership between Monterey and the Army stands out for another reason as well, she noted. It was spearheaded in the 1990s by its then-City Manager Fred Meurer who had served as a public works director in the Army.
“He really understood the base and base operations. … I do think individuals matter and can make a big difference,” she said.
But in the two decades since the collaboration was launched, Meurer has succeeded in instilling his passion for supporting the Army throughout the city’s public works staff, noted Paul Cramer, deputy assistant secretary for installations, housing and partnerships.
City employees take pride in their work, McCarthy said, echoing Cramer’s observation, “but there’s something different about supporting the military mission and I see that first hand. … It’s something special.”
Interested in learning more about intergovernmental support agreements? From Nov. 16-17, ADC and Monterey will host a bootcamp for community and military leaders to learn about the process of creating IGSAs between communities and local military installations. Visit the ADC website for more details.