Frank Cirincione, who started his career as a Junior Engineer in Training, and went on to become the Chief, Master Planning, Military Design Branch, Engineering Division, served the Baltimore District for more than four decades and was inducted into the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees during an awards ceremony held June 25, 2021, at the Baltimore District headquarters.
Learn a bit more about Frank Cirincione below:
What brought you to USACE, and what kept you with the Corps for so long?
In my senior year at Penn State, 1972, I interviewed with a number of private and government entities who visited the campus. The Baltimore District was one of the government agencies. I was familiar with the work of the Corps of Engineers as the Pittsburgh District was prominent in the Pittsburgh area with its locks and dams on the three Pittsburgh rivers. I received and accepted an employment offer for the Baltimore District. It was a decision I am glad I made almost 50 years ago. June 1972 was shaped by the events of Tropical Storm Agnes. My graduation was held just after the storm struck. The graduation was held and if one could make it to attend that was fine but if not your diploma would be mailed to your home. Since we lived in Pittsburgh, that area was not as devastated as central Pennsylvania, so we were able to travel to State College for the graduation. I began my Baltimore District career on June 30, 1972. At that time the fiscal year ended on June 30. So I began that Friday as a Junior-Engineer-Trainee (JET). It would have been just a start of a career. However, it was in the District’s all-out response to support the efforts as a result of Agnes. When I arrived at work on Monday, July 3, I was informed that I was to report to work on Wednesday, July 5, at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Clarks Summit, PA, office where I served as a liaison between the two agencies. I was in the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area from July 5 to Labor Day. This was a very rewarding start to my career as I learned quickly to be self-sufficient and independent.
I could not ask for a better and an introduction as to all the Baltimore District had to offer as to engineering opportunities. After a year as a JET I went to Engineering Division, Site Development Section. I remained in that Section until August 1994 at which time I was assigned to the Master Planning Section.
The variety of projects and my relationships with coworkers is what kept me in the Baltimore District. The projects I worked on in the Site Development Section had so much interactions with all the other disciplines from design to construction that each project was very interesting. Each had many aspects to deal with from siting the facilities, the drainage and keeping the project within budget.
My move to Master Planning had its own set of challenges and an entirely different set of responsibilities. Mainly it was management of limited clients’ funding to achieve the master plans that were needed for each. It is the funds management that developed my appreciation for CEFMS. A truly powerful system for management of funds from initial receipt to final distribution.
Again, in that position I interacted with so many who provided me with support of funding and contract management.
What is a civil engineer, and how has that role evolved and changed over the years?
A civil engineer is one who is trained in the aspects of design and construction of structures, roads, drainage systems and water systems. The focus is on efficiency and cost effectiveness of the project aspects.
Over the past 30 years, the emphasis is towards more environmentally friendly design and construction aspects. The use of recycled materials, energy efficient systems, locally sourced construction materials, and green solutions have become commonplace. For example, at one time projects were designed to shed the rainwater off the site as quickly as possible and discharge the stormwater into existing drainage systems. In the early 1980’s, the design process shifted to minimize the amount of runoff from new projects into the existing drainage systems. No longer was it acceptable to shed the water from a site and allow it to overburden the downstream drainage systems. Stormwater management became the normal accepted design practice to retain the runoff on-site then discharge it at a rate no greater than what existed prior to the new development. This and similar design practices shifted the civil engineers’ to become more environmentally sensitive as well as more sustainable.
What is the most memorable project you were a part of?
Over my 41 years working in Engineering Division, I had the opportunity to work on many military and civil works projects. While many were memorable each in their own way, it is the work I did for Arlington National Cemetery that was both rewarding as well as memorable. My first project at Arlington National Cemetery was the repair of cemetery roads. I started this project in 1978. Since that first project I worked on many projects there either personally or where I supervised the project designs. While in the Site Development Section the projects included the development of the expansion of the cemetery into the old south post of Fort Myers, the new Visitors’ Center, the Columbarium, Land Development 90 project, and repairs to the Memorial Amphitheater., When I moved to the Master Planning Section, I worked on the preparation of the Arlington National Cemetery Master Plan that developed a plan for the Cemetery to continue burials until 2100. Also, the Arlington National Cemetery project manager, Ms. Katherine Welton, who worked in the Master Planning Section, managed the Baltimore District support of the cemetery from 2002 to 2010. With these projects I was honored to support the Cemetery for nearly 32 years.
After 41 years with USACE, do you have any words of wisdom for today’s Baltimore District team?
As I look back on my career, I am amazed at how quickly time goes by. As for advice, one should always be a listener. When in a meeting listen to what the team members have to offer when working on a project. You will gain their perspective as to the ideas they have, the challenges each face, the needs they have from other team members and how they plan to proceed with the cooperation of others. Listen then speak. It will serve you well in all you do.
From his award narrative:
Frank Cirincione distinguished himself through a career of exceptionally meritorious service to the US Army Corps of Engineers. His leadership, dedication to duty, and technical expertise were invaluable throughout his 41 plus year career while assigned to various technical and management positions within the Baltimore District. Serving most recently as the Chief, Master Planning, Military Design Branch, Engineering Division, Cirincione made lasting contributions to the Corps of Engineers, the United States Army, and the Nation.
Cirincione served in the Engineering Division of the Baltimore District for his entire career beginning June 30, 1972 as a Civil Engineer-Junior Engineer In Training (JET), the precursor to the DA Intern Program. Hurricane Agnes hit the Northeast US in June 1972 and Cirincione’s earliest assignment had him supporting FEMA missions of damage assessments for the devastated area of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
After Cirincione completed his JET internship he was assigned to the Engineering Division. As a civil engineer in the Site Development Section of the Military Design Branch from June 1973 to January 1983 he greatly contributed to the success of the section. Frank obtained a Professional Engineer’s License in the State of Maryland in 1978, worked with in-house design staff on dozens of projects, and became Chief of the Site Development Section in 1983. During this tenure he led the section through many environmental policy changes and technical advances in the site development field that resulted in the adoption of new policies and agreements with various state environmental agencies. In January of 1991 he initiated procedures for the Corps, State, and local agencies to work collectively to develop environmentally acceptable projects.
He worked well with stakeholders including the Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent, US Army Reserve Center Commanders, and many Army and Air Force installations in support of their garrison facilities. Cirincione’s ability to coordinate and manage teams of in-house staff and Architect/Engineer (AE) firms to resolve complex planning and site concerns with the National Capital Planning Commission and Commission of Fine Arts has been well recognized over his 41 year career. His prompt technical and managerial efforts kept projects on schedule and within budget for timely awards of construction contracts.
Cirincione promoted the spirit of learning in every position he held. Mentoring, whether formal or informal, is one of his natural abilities. He routinely provided advice and assistance to staff engineers and interns on technical and administrative issues. One particular area that Cirincione mastered was the Corps of Engineers Financial Management System, CEFMS, a system that was designed to handle all types of financial data processing within the Corps. It provided supervisors and project managers access to current project, labor, and travel account information but was not always very intuitive or user-friendly. Cirincione was able to teach the skills to interact with CEFMS and resolve issues such as the processing of travel vouchers, approving and paying invoices, creating purchase requests and labor codes, etc. He taught classes to new staff, managers and supervisors. Cirincione was always responsive when someone needed advice or assistance. He worked tirelessly in this regard and seemed truly in his element when he was helping someone else.
Throughout his career he supported the Engineering Division by accepting various temporary details for critical positions during a time of need. He provided outstanding leadership in assignments as both Assistant Chief and Chief of the Design Branch; Chief, Master Planning; and Deputy Chief of the Engineering Division. In November 2009, he was made Deputy Chief, Military Design Branch while still maintaining his responsibilities as Chief, Master Planning. His ability to adapt and perform in these assignments at the same time demonstrated his versatility and dedication to the District’s mission. Cirincione’s commitment to master planning led to Baltimore District being selected as the North Atlantic Division’s Center of Expertise for Master Planning.
Cirincione was often involved in the selection of AE firms for Indefinite Delivery Type Contracts for Baltimore District and Army Garrison utilization. He provided oversight of Chaired Selection & Pre-Selection Boards for over 200 AE contracts. He also mentored section, branch and division chiefs on the proper procedures to conduct AE selection boards and presented briefings to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) concerning the techniques to produce a quality AE proposal package.
He is among the most highly regarded civil servants to have worked in the Baltimore District. He is universally trusted, respected, and admired. His superb work was a constant reminder of how deeply he cared for the Corps, its mission, and especially, its people. Since his retirement and his service as a rehired annuitant, Cirincione continues to visit the District Office and attends nearly every retirement luncheon and special event including taking the time to visit former colleagues.
Throughout his years of dedicated service to the nation and to the Corps of Engineers, Frank Cirincione has exemplified leadership by the Army values. He continuously worked to improve communications with all stakeholders, demonstrate his commitment to public service, and improve engineering in the Baltimore District. Frank was a federal employee of the highest caliber, and his exemplary achievements are in keeping with the highest traditions of civil service and reflect great credit upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.