ALEXANDRIA, Va. � Firms looking to boost sagging bottom lines and gain more-robust public-sector construction markets generated a record attendance of more than 550 at this year�s federal and military workload briefings, sponsored by the Society of American Military Engineers in March in Alexandria, Va. Traditional pockets of �milcon� work�such as in base closure and housing�are winding down, officials said. But overseas expansion and new initiatives in energy conservation and facility �quality of life� upgrades are boosting work for the short term, just as new conference attendees were boosting their profiles.

The SAME event preceded by one day testimony from Defense Undersecretary Robert F. Hale, who noted DOD�s $18.7-billion milcon request for fiscal 2011. He said it was down 20% from the previous year, due to $5.2 billion less requested for base realignment and closure, a program set to end in fiscal 2011. But excluding that, he said, the request is up 8.4%. �We�re in a growth industry inside the gates, even though there is a recession outside,� said Brig. Gen. Al T. Aycock, deputy commander of the Army Installation Management Command.

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