Scramble to save lives and sustain survivors leaves questions unanswered about how recovery will be led.

...Command (NAVFAC) division in Norfolk, Va. It has several contracts in place with private-sector firms to support the Haiti effort if task orders are issued, according to Jim Brantley, division director for public affairs and communications for NAVFAC.

Atlantic Contingency Constructors, LLC, Virginia Beach, Va., Fluor Intercontinental Inc., Greenville, S.C., and URS-IAP LLC, Washington, D.C., hold a $1-billion global contingency construction contract with NAVFAC. It includes providing engineering and construction services for disaster recovery.

Atlantic Contingency Constructors is a partnership of The Shaw Group, Baton Rouge, La., AECOM Technology Corp., Los Angeles, and PAE Government Services, Arlington, Va. URS-IAP is a joint venture of URS Corp., San Francisco, and IAP Worldwide Services, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Another possible contract vehicle is the Global Service Contingency Contract, which provides short-term facilities support services with incidental construction in response to natural disasters. That contract is held by Contingency Response Services LLC, a partnership of DynCorp International, Fort Worth, Parsons Corp., Pasadena, Calif., and PWC Logistics, which is now part of Houston-based Agility Project Logistics.

Any shift to private contracting will bring a host of new issues to the table, including project awards, controls and governance, which will invariably reference reconstruction work in Iraq for lessons learned. Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, says the challenges that lie ahead are formidable, but some of what was learned in Iraq could apply.

First and foremost is restoring order and security. “Restoring the rule of law quickly and maintaining it is the sine qua non of ensuring that relief and reconstruction activities can proceed promptly,” Bowen advises.

Once the reconstruction effort has begun, integration between agencies will be essential. “There’s going to be a variety of agencies operating in Haiti delivering aid, but ensuring that there is integration in the provision of that aid and adequate oversight of the contracts that will follow is essential for the efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Bowen says.

The special inspector general’s office plans to release a report in a few weeks that will propose the creation of a U.S. office for contingency operations. “Such an office would clearly be helpful in situations like Haiti,” he says.

Going Forward

Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and the Open Architecture Network, is one who is beginning to plan long-term. He laid out a detailed scheme, including a probable time line for an architectural and construction response, in a blog on Jan. 17.

The first stage of pre-planning assessments and damage analysis is already under way and will run for a year, Sinclair says. Establishing a community resource center and reconstruction studio should happen in one to three...