The 2019 ADM Defence Estate and Base Services Summit (DEBSS) held this week in Canberra was the biggest in the series to date, attracting in excess of 400 delegates from across industry and Defence.
Held in Canberra’s Hotel Realm on September 12, the 2019 conference was the eighth in the series and the annual conference has proven so popular to date, that proceedings were divided into two separate streams after lunch. The first stream considered base services and estate planning, which included two informative presentations on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of Defence bases and surrounding areas and the considerable efforts underway to remediate the problem.
The second stream focussed its attention on capital project delivery and included a panel discussion to that effect.
The main conference was chaired by Josef Baukes, key account manager – Defence for Coffey, A Tetra Tech Company and the first keynote speaker was Steve Grzeskowiak, deputy secretary – Estate and Infrastructure Group (E&IG), who provided an update of his organisation.
Grzeskowiak told delegates that the E&IG has an annual budget of $5.3 billion and it is increasing, as strategies laid down by the 2016 Defence White Paper are rolled out. Altogether, he said the Defence Estate covered 2.8 million hectares of land (approximately equal to the size of Albania) and included 70 bases and 30,000 structures, with a capital replacement value of around $68 billion.
“The condition of the estate has been deteriorating, but is now ticking up in the right direction thanks to recent investment. It's important we make better decisions about how we invest in the estate,” Grzeskowiak said.
“Our guiding strategy is a strategically aligned, affordable, safe and sustainable estate that enables Defence capability and operations. This strategy holds up very well (and) if you are hoping to win work off Defence, reading our strategy is something I’d recommend.”
Other keynote speakers included Jodie Patron, economist and director of KPMG Australia; Chris Birrer, first assistant secretary – Infrastructure; and Stuart Fowler, CEO Norman, Disney & Young (NDY).
A more detailed report from DEBSS 2019 will be a feature of the November issue of ADM and our current (September) issue includes an interview with Steve Grzeskowiak about the current and future activities of the E&IG.
Note from the Managing Editor: ADM spoke to Sodexo’s CEO for Government and Agencies Worldwide Tony Leech about Sodexo returning to the Defence Infrastructure and Services domain. The joint venture between Sodexo and Serco dissolved in 2018 but the business now feels there is space in the domain for the company to add value.
“Given our international experience in a range of five-eyes nations, we think Australia is a good market for us to return to in a Defence context,” Leech said to ADM.
Defence speakers at DEBSS were keen to highlight the importance of a customer-focused in facilities and base services management, with a presentation from Philip Capps, Head of Product Strategy & Development for Qantas, highlighting what best practice looks like for a customer centric model. E&IG Deputy Secretary Steven Grzeskowiak and his team are looking to apply the lessons learned from the last decade of base services contracts into the new suite of garrison support arrangements in both current and existing contracts.