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News | June 28, 2021

Developing lasting industry-government partnerships through collaboration, networking

By Julie Shoemaker Transatlantic Middle East District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District sponsored a two-day Industry Day event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 8 and 9.

The informational event was open to any businesses, large and small, that are interested in working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. About 200 attended in person and another 200 via WebEx, representing about 60 different companies. Topics were focused primarily on work in Saudi Arabia but Team TAM also briefed TAM’s area of responsibility and our presence and mission there.

Federally sponsored Industry Day events are a valuable collaboration and networking tool between industry and government. Contractors are able to learn about upcoming procurements, timelines, and acquisition strategies, while meeting in an open forum with government representatives. During these meetings the contractors are able to ask questions and get answers in real time. This helps them better position themselves for upcoming opportunities.  

The TAM project delivery team decided to host the Industry Day. “We had the new Saudi MATOC [multiple award task order contract] and we wanted to get industry ready for it,” said Pete DeMattei, program manager. “We thought it would be advantageous to let contractors know about all the other non-MATOC work we have and will have in the Kingdom.”

Five Team TAM members traveled to Saudi Arabia for the event and there were already two team members stationed there. “For those of us that traveled, we did not just travel for this event. We also had meetings and other project work. For example, I went to my other projects south and west of Riyadh and the others did the same.”

The goals of the event were to present the USACE Program identifying four keys to business success; to demonstrate why Saudi Arabia is an important strategic partners for the U.S. and why partnering is important; to share resources that will help contractors succeed, and to describe the construction administration process and list future work opportunities.

TAM’s guest speakers included program managers Dave Colberg and Patrick Tilque who addressed Saudi Foreign Military Sales, and assistant district counsel Matt Tilghman remotely discussed legal issues. Also participating remotely were TAM Commander COL Secrist, Director of Programs Tom Waters and Regional Program Manager Dr. Khaled Masoud who discussed the Middle East District and the Mission. Area Engineer Shahrukh Shahzada discussed construction and DeMattei covered the Western Basing Network program. Because the contracting officer had to cancel his trip at the last minute, DeMattei also briefed the contracting and business requirements and the proposal process.

Becky Moser, PM for the Saudi MATOC, briefing both days. “I opened my part of the presentation in Arabic followed by a request to take a selfie with that group for my mother. It really helped break through and created a moment,” she said.

“I expected there to be some questions that would have fallen into sensitive areas or questions we would have to research and get back to them, but our presenters were senior subject matter experts. We were able to give real world experiences that we have encountered in our careers to facilitate meaningful conversation. I had several experienced contractors that we do a lot of business with, come up to me and say this was the most effective dialogue they have had with the U.S. Government. That was pretty powerful to hear,” said DeMattei.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is really quite magical and filled with kind, gracious people,” said Moser, who taught the staff at the hotel’s coffee bar to make plain iced tea so she didn’t have to do without. “While it takes a while to get used to the heat, our customers are lovely, gracious hosts." 

This Industry Day was well received and TAM heard a lot of positive feedback from the attendees. “I think the outpouring of thanks we received each day of the conference, and continue to hear about two weeks later, is proof that this event was helpful for Industry,” said DeMattei. “In the big picture, the collaboration and networking between industry and government that took place will improve capabilities and help develop partnerships for years to come.”