USACE employee receives award due to new contracting process deployed during flood efforts.
By Ferdinand Detres JrMay 28, 2020
A 25-year employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, was awarded the Omaha-Lincoln Federal Executive Association 2019, Federal Employee Leadership Award in the Managerial/Supervisor/Leader of the Year category.Lee M. McCormick, Civil Branch Chief, formally received notification of the award earlier this month for his efforts during the 2019 flooding of the Missouri River Basin recovery operations. The catastrophic flood hit parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri causing damage to more than 500 miles of levees on the Missouri, Platte and Elkhorn rivers.After the flood, McCormick volunteered with the USACE-Omaha System Restoration Team as the acquisition lead.“McCormick led a team of military and civilian personnel to successfully execute a myriad of contracts to support critical life, health and safety needs of our local area,” said Ginger Gruber, Chief of Contracting, USACE-Omaha District.Due to the unforeseen emergency situation that followed the flooding, McCormick needed to expeditiously train several contracting specialist in emergency contracting procedures.“Lee immediately stood up the team and implemented on-the-job training over a weekend to ensure the entire team was trained, operating consistently and efficiently,” Gruber said.“We had to act immediately in doing emergency contracts,” McCormick said. “Interstate 29 was shut down and many small towns became islands as they became flooded with water all around.”McCormick’s team, in collaboration with the project delivery team, developed and gained expedited approval of $151 million from the Omaha District’s Acquisition Plan for Prequalification of Sources List, providing flood response to over 30 levee repair contracts.“This was the first time ever that Omaha District has utilized a PSL approach and the first time in the history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that this acquisition approach has been utilized for small projects,” Gruber said.McCormick’s new approach shortened the advertisement and award periods for contracts.“A process that usually took months took us a couple weeks or days,” McCormick said.“The phenomenal success of these contracts also served to enhance the public image of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a time of extreme public scrutiny,” Gruber said. “Due to its success, it has since been mimicked across USACE. Lee’s role in launching and perfecting this process cannot be understated.”McCormick did not wish to take all the credit on his own without thanking the many people that made a team effort in the success of the mission and offering words of advice for those wishing to be successful.“It was definitely a collaborative effort, not one person can do all this alone,” McCormick said. “I’d tell people not to only focus on your job requirements, focus on the impact of what you’re doing and how that affects the community and put that first. Put how to make the world a better place in everything you do.”