Officials release new environmental restoration policy


Changes to the Air Force’s environmental cleanup program will focus on cleaning up more sites more quickly, officials said here Feb. 25.

The intention is to shift emphasis from partial cleanup solutions that often require decades of expensive follow-up to complete cleanups that free up property more quickly for productive use.

The new accelerated site completion policy directs Airmen to look beyond standard milestones commonly in use. For example, the current goal of putting “remedies in place” can leave hazardous materials in the soil or groundwater for decades, which costs a lot of taxpayer dollars to sample and monitor.

Air Force officials are focusing their efforts on actually completing cleanups where it is technically feasible and cost effective to do so.

“Getting the remedies in place is an important event and a terrific indicator of progress, but it’s time to shift our focus to actually completing our cleanups,” said Terry Yonkers, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. “The standard cleanup practices take too long to reach only interim results and often require decades of land use restrictions or monitoring, or both.”

Mr. Yonkers added that the standard practices also frequently place a heavy burden on taxpayers with money that would be better spent on actual cleanup.

“We want to conduct complete cleanups where it is technically feasible and cost effective, and free up these properties to productive private or military uses,” Mr. Yonkers said. “It’s good for the environment, good for the landowner and good for the taxpayer.”

Mr. Yonkers said performance requirements under performance-based remediation are established in a manner that encourages contractor innovation and creativity.

“Our primary means to accelerate site completion will be by emphasizing and incentivizing site completion objectives in our performance-based contracting mechanisms — an overall initiative we are calling performance-based remediation, with objectives for ultimate cleanup (and) not interim steps toward cleanup,” Mr. Yonkers said.

Performance-based remediation, which is expected to typically use fixed-price contracts, represents a paradigm shift from traditional acquisition strategies, he added. It focuses on achievement of contract objectives without specifying the processes or technologies used to achieve the objectives.

“We are using performance-based remediation because we believe it allows government project managers the flexibility to take advantage of the innovation and creativity of the private sector to drive results in a timely fashion,” Mr. Yonkers said. “It is our intention to contract for whole-base cleanups when technically feasible and cost effective, not merely individual sites on a base.”

Mr. Yonkers said he anticipates that in many cases simple economies of scale will provide cost savings.

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