Joseph E. Gott, chief engineer and capital improvement director for the U.S. Navy’s Naval FacilitiesEngineering Command, is a trained fire protection engineer. Now he’s putting out fires, among other things, as the lead civilian manager for the service’s $16-billion global construction program.
Gott has been pivotal in streamlining NAVFAC processes and procurement methods to speed projects to delivery. That strategy has paid off in the last three years, as the NAVFAC program grew nearly 80%, including $2 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and a major shift to design-build project delivery.
Despite the enormity of its mission, NAVFAC obligated its ARRA projects faster than any of the other military services and has emerged as a preferred owner to many engineering and construction firm executives. As NAVFAC’s military chiefs change, Gott has remained the stalwart go-to guy for contractors and staff, tasked as the milcon effort’s chief communicator, educator, motivator and disciplinarian.
“Joe immediately impressed me as a driven professional who is serious about his responsibilities and trying to do the right thing for NAVFAC and the construction industry,” says one former military official now in the private sector. “You don’t make Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society out of college by being laid-back.”
Whether it’s focusing on improving NAVFAC’s requests for proposals, keeping industry updated with a milcon forecast website or making design-build solicitations and project delivery realistic to industry, Gott has been responsive. Execs credit his brutal honesty, openness and feedback when bids fall short.
Gott has also been instrumental in NAVFAC’s push to do more design in-house, a move not well received by industry but necessary to improve internal competence and make the agency a better owner, he says. “We need that to maintain our core competencies,” he says. “Kids coming out of college don’t know how to put together an RFP or a solicitation. Some aren’t good at reading blueprints.”
Gott’s effort to understand private-sector challenges while protecting the government’s interests is appealing. “Whoever is in his position is clearly pivotal as an extension of continuity, and he influences other services through his position as a member of the tri-service engineering board,” says the industry executive. “To me, he gets it.”