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Posted 8/26/2015

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By Sarah Gross

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, U.S. Army, chief of engineers, presented Dave Robbins with the 2015 Project Manager of the Year award at the annual U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Awards Ceremony, held in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 6, 2015.  

Robbins works within the Planning Division at the Corps’s Baltimore District. He is a geographer by trade and was the project manager for the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS). This massive, innovative interagency study was a 2-year $20 million effort that came to fruition as a result of Hurricane Sandy's devastating aftermath. At the request of the Corps’s North Atlantic Division on behalf of the National Planning Center for Coastal Storm Risk Management, Robbins led a project team of more than 200 professionals, comprised of a virtual team of more than 50 partners from federal, state, local, and non-governmental agencies. This team developed shared tools and potential strategies that decision makers can use to assess coastal flood risks and identify solutions to reduce those risks across the entire region.

“This was a very intense commitment with a lot of unknowns,” said Amy Guise, Baltimore District, chief of Planning. “Over the course of these 2 years, Robbins changed his work schedule to accommodate the demands of the project, and he exceeded leadership expectations.”  

The draft report actually had to be written within 1 year to provide adequate time for the necessary quality controls and policy reviews.

Leading a large virtual team, Robbins had to work through deployments, teammate changes and the need for continual mentorship for new members. Robbins was able to alleviate some of these challenges through the creation of an inventive interagency collaboration webinar series.

Somehow, within the intense demands of leading the charge for NACCS, he even found the time to enhance his own career development through securing his Project Management Professional certification.

“Our Corps of Engineers’ teammates manage and lead many extraordinary projects each and every day, each and every year, across the United States and abroad,” said Guise. “To be nominated as one of the best project managers - particularly from a large and complex district with many high performers, and then further selected as the best across the nation - is a great honor.” 

And this year’s recipient could not agree more.

“I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of the best professionals in the business as part of the broader project delivery team from across our organization, and especially here in the Baltimore District,” said Robbins.  

Robbins was well equipped to lead NACCS.

He started at the Baltimore District in summer 2007 as a study manager for General Investigation studies and project manager for Continuing Authority Program projects within the Planning Division, Civil Project Development Branch.

Prior to his 8-year span at the district, Robbins worked for an Architectural/Engineering consulting company where he assisted with FEMA's flood insurance studies and digital flood insurance rate map production.

From 2008-2010, he was the study manager for the Anacostia Restoration Plan (ARP) – another expansive study with an aggressive 2-year schedule with the intent to produce a systematic 10-year restoration plan for environmental and ecological restoration within the Anacostia River watershed’s 176 square urban miles. The ARP identified over 3,000 candidate restoration opportunities within the watershed.

So, what makes a great project manager?

According to Robbins, it is listening.

“For a project like the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, you hear a lot of different perspectives.  And although there is limited time available to get the work done, you need to be able to take the time to listen to what the team of experts is telling you.”

“Dave brings his full attention to each task and challenge, even in the most trying situations,” asserted Guise. “He is professional, courteous, thorough and a patient communicator.”

The NACCS Project Delivery Team (PDT) was also awarded the 2015 PDT of the Year Award.

“The North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study Report is a roadmap focused toward offering a sound approach to identify solutions to address the challenges impacting the nation’s coastal areas,” said Joe Vietri, North Atlantic Division, chief of Planning and Policy Division.“The activities that had to be defined, scoped, and conducted, along with the immense team of professionals, required a Herculean effort.”

Because of this study and resulting release of the report in January 2015, coastal communities can start planning responsibly and taking actions now to reduce the risk of damage from future coastal storms – and that is really greater than any award or awards can truly convey.

For more information on NACCS: http://www.nad.usace.army.mil/compstudy

award Baltimore Corps of Engineers Dave Robbins Gen. Bostick Hurricane Sandy NACCS Project Manager of Year U.S. Army