Plans for dormitory put on hold

Liliana Castillo

Building projects at 21 bases across the country have been put on hold due to the budget stalemate in Congress.

The list includes Cannon Air Force Base’s 96-room dormitory project.

The Air Force Times reported that the stalemate has locked the Air Force into last year’s spending amounts and prevented the start of any new construction projects since Oct. 1.

Eight bases are waiting on more than $25 million in construction money.

The Air Force Times reported that the Air Force has delayed 36 construction projects worth more than $670 million as of March 4, including hangars, dormitories, maintenance facilities and training buildings.

The projects will remain on hold until Congress passes a budget for fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1.

Cannon’s capital asset management office said that the Cannon FY11 dorm project contract cannot be awarded until the FY11 budget is passed. However, if the budget is passed soon, the construction schedule should not be adversely affected.

“Finding a place to live is one of the first concerns for newcomers to Cannon, and facilitating this process for our military families is always a top priority. The current delay in the defense budget approval has not been a factor in the availability of on-base housing for inbound personnel,” Chief of Capital Asset Management Tim Farmer said.

To provide housing in the interim, the base has made a substantial investment to renovate 60 homes that were initially scheduled for demolition, and these units will be ready for occupancy by the end of April.

“Additionally, existing dorms are currently undergoing a $3.5 million renovation. Wing leadership has continually focused on ensuring availability of quality on- and off-base housing for our airmen. The wing has also addressed the need for two additional dormitories to be built in 2012 and 2013,” Farmer said.

Even if Congress manages to pass a budget soon, the service can’t simply start building that day. Military construction projects are time-sensitive, meaning each new project needs to be contracted out by a particular date.

Should a federal budget pass, the Air Force would need to establish a new award date for contracting out each project. Bidders would be asked to extend their current bid prices beyond the bid expiration date, and in some cases, the Air Force might need to solicit new bids, which could be higher or lower than the original quotes.