Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.

Featured Stories

Filter Featured Stories

Featured Stories

Headwaters Highlights: Contract specialist jobs rise in demand throughout government agencies

Pittsburgh District
Published Jan. 31, 2024
Updated: Jan. 31, 2024
The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.

Josh Kaufmann, the chief of the contracting office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with fellow employees during a meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.

Sgt. 1st Class Shantae Mollison, a U.S. Army Reserve contracting specialist on active-duty orders with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares information during a contracting team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The Pittsburgh District offers “tour of duty” positions to Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers to work in their office full time to help fill vacant positions. Currently two noncommissioned officers work in the contracting office. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

construction

Mike Curtis, a construction control representative with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, oversees a road construction project for quality assurance at Crooked Creek Lake in Ford City, Pennsylvania, Sept. 7, 2022. The construction office for the Pittsburgh District operates in a fast-paced environment, moving from one project to the next without a pause, juggling several jobs simultaneously. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District pack up their laptops at the end of a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

Public affairs specialists from across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division came to the Pittsburgh District to train on their photography and multimedia skills during the first regional visual storytelling workshop hosted by the district’s public affairs office.

A welder works on a retaining wall to prepare a construction site for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District to build a concrete batch plant at Montgomery Locks and Dam in Monaca, Pennsylvania, Oct. 25, 2023. Public affairs specialists from across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division came to the Pittsburgh District to train on their photography and multimedia skills during the first regional visual storytelling workshop hosted by the district’s public affairs office. The navigation facility at Montgomery is part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, a multi-billion-dollar construction project that will replace locks at Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery locks and dams. The project will replace the auxiliary chamber at each site, measuring 56 feet wide by 360 feet long, with locks measuring 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

Dam chamber on Monongahela river filling with water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District begins to refill the newly constructed lock chamber with water at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2023. The chamber will take several days to fill with approximately 18.5 million gallons of water. Once filled, the Pittsburgh District will move forward with installing the miter gates and testing out the lock for navigation. The new lock is expected to go into operation in 2024. The construction project at Charleroi is part of the Lower Mon Project, sometimes referred to as a "mega project" because of its size and scope. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.

Josh Kaufmann, right, the chief of the contracting office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with Connie Ferguson, a contracting officer, after presenting her with a coin and certificate to recognize her 15 years of federal service in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

A helicopter lifting trees and concrete blocks to place them in a water basin on the Ohio River.

A helicopter contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District lifts a tree bundle over the Montgomery Locks and Dam in Monaca, Pennsylvania, Aug. 8, 2023. The Pittsburgh District used a helicopter to lift 29 trees bundles and concrete blocks to create a new fish habitat in a water basin on the Ohio River. The fishery will mitigate impact caused by construction planned in the coming years at three locks and dams nearby. The construction of the three new locks is part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, a multi-billion-dollar project that will benefit inland navigation. The district will remove the auxiliary chambers at the Montgomery, Dashields and Emsworth locks and dams, replacing them with larger navigation chambers. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

Park rangers and maintenance workers add amenities for visitors at Stonewall Jackson

A contracted landscaper mows the lawn at Stonewall Jackson Lake in Weston, West Virginia. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District presented the management and maintenance team at Stonewall Jackson Lake with the 2023 “Project Site of the Year” for the amenities they added to improve visitor experience at the dam and reservoir. The team built a handicap-accessible overlook area, a fishing deck, a sand digger pit for kids, picnic tables, pavilions, and a sandbag tossing game, among other amenities for visitors to enjoy. Stonewall Jackson Lake is in Lewis County, West Virginia, and one of 16 flood-control projects in the Pittsburgh District. The reservoir provides flood protection for the Monongahela, upper Ohio, and West Fork rivers. The corps began constructing Stonewall Jackson Lake in 1983 and completed it in 1990, though the dam has been operating since January 1988. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

A contractor smooths concrete that is placed in the covered area at the temporary school, Dec. 29, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 34

A contractor smooths concrete that is placed in the covered area at the temporary school, Dec. 29, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proceeding with a FEMA mission assignment to support the state of Hawai'i and the state Department of Education to design and oversee the installation of a temporary elementary school campus for the Lahaina community. As of Dec. 23, 2023, the first two rows of classrooms have been set with work commencing on the third row for a total of 20 classrooms and two restrooms set. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Charles Delano)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 34

Josh Kaufmann, the chief of the contracting office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, leads a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

A maintenance mechanic with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District completes a shoreline stabilization project work using a backhoe at Shenango River Lake.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 14 of 34

Adam Rentz, a maintenance mechanic with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, completes a shoreline stabilization project work using a backhoe at Shenango River Lake in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, Oct. 24, 2023. Shoreline erosion increases as water levels of Shenango River Lake rise. Maintenance workers at Shenango perform regular improvement projects to ensure visitors can enjoy the area for recreation over time. Completed in 1965, Shenango River Lake is one of 16 flood-control projects in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District. Shenango also provides water releases during dry periods to improve water quality and quantity for domestic and industrial use, recreation and aquatic life. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Kelsie Hall)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 15 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

montgomery locks dam
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 16 of 34

Montgomery lies on a thickly-forested length of the river on the left descending bank off Route 18, about 5 miles downriver from Beaver, Pennsylvania., near Raccoon Creek. It is about three miles upriver from the first large scale nuclear power plant in the U.S. at Shippingport, Pennsylvania. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo)

Charleroi excavation
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 17 of 34

Hydraulic excavators with hoe rams go to work as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District continues demolition and excavation within the dewatered river chamber at Charleroi Locks and Dam on the lower Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, Oct. 19, 2021. The Pittsburgh District recently finished building the new lock chamber walls and has emptied it of approximately 20 million gallons of water, a process called dewatering, to allow contractors to begin adding the mechanical inner works of the chamber. The new lock chamber is 84 feet wide by 720 feet long, which will allow a nine-barge tow to lock through in 25 minutes, something that would take more than two hours using the older, smaller lock chamber. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 18 of 34

Connie Ferguson, a contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, works in her office in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

A day in the life of park rangers
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 19 of 34

Karen Osler, a park ranger with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, cleans a bathroom near a boat launch at the Youghiogheny River Lake in Confluence, Pennsylvania, July 14, 2022. Working as a park ranger requires an array of tasks, including cleaning bathrooms from time to time. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 20 of 34

Connie Ferguson and Michelle McDowell, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District’s contracting office, share a laugh during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

Public affairs specialists from across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division came to the Pittsburgh District to train on their photography and multimedia skills during the first regional visual storytelling workshop hosted by the district’s public affairs office.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 21 of 34

A downstream view of Montgomery Locks and Dam on the Ohio River near Monaca, Pennsylvania, Oct. 25, 2023. Public affairs specialists from across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division came to the Pittsburgh District to train on their photography and multimedia skills during the first regional visual storytelling workshop hosted by the district’s public affairs office. The navigation facility at Montgomery is part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, a multi-billion-dollar construction project that will replace locks at Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery locks and dams. The project will replace the auxiliary chamber at each site, measuring 56 feet wide by 360 feet long, with locks measuring 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 22 of 34

Josh Kaufmann, the chief of the contracting office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with a fellow employee in his office in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 23 of 34

Josh Kaufmann, right, the chief of the contracting office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, walks to a meeting with Aaron Barr, a contract specialist, in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 24 of 34

Connie Ferguson, a contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with colleagues during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 25 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 26 of 34

Connie Ferguson, a contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with colleagues during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

A helicopter lifting trees and concrete blocks to place them in a water basin on the Ohio River.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 27 of 34

Contractors for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District clear 3.4 acres of land for a concrete batch plant at the Montgomery Locks and Dam in Monaca, Pennsylvania, July 20, 2023. Some of the trees cut down were repurposed into fish habitats. The Pittsburgh District used a helicopter to lift 29 trees bundles and concrete blocks to create a new fish habitat in a water basin on the Ohio River. The fishery will mitigate impact caused by construction planned in the coming years at three locks and dams nearby. The construction of the three new locks is part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, a multi-billion-dollar project that will benefit inland navigation. The district will remove the auxiliary chambers at the Montgomery, Dashields and Emsworth locks and dams, replacing them with larger navigation chambers. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 28 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District share a laugh during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 29 of 34

Leanna Lesefka, a contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with colleagues during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

An aerial view of a lock and dam facility on the Monongahela River.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 30 of 34

The photo above is an aerial view of Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 near Charleroi, Pennsylvania, July 21, 2023. The facility is one of nine navigation structures on the Monongahela River that provide navigation from Fairmont, West Virginia, to downtown Pittsburgh. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started constructing the lock at Charleroi in 1931 and finished in 1932. The project became operational Aug. 14, 1932. The most recent construction at the facility began in 1994 to replace the main chamber with a new lock measuring 720 feet long and 84 feet wide. Charleroi is located at river mile 41.5. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 31 of 34

Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023. The contractor utilized an A-frame crane named "Big Al" to lift, relocate, and position the shaft enclosure. Over nearly two decades, the Pittsburgh District has been engaged in constructing a new 720-foot-long by 84-foot-wide navigation chamber in Charleroi. This year, they filled the chamber with water and installed new miter gates. The completion of the guard wall constitutes the final phase of this extensive construction project. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 32 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 33 of 34

Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District share a laugh during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 34 of 34

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)

PITTSBURGH – No other career in government has more job opportunities than contracting offices right now.

Every function of government relies on contracts for big purchases or specialized work at some point. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers relies on contract work for a range of projects, from major construction jobs of navigation locks on the river to mowing the lawns at various federal facilities.

Charleroi excavation
Charleroi Excavation
Hydraulic excavators with hoe rams go to work as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District continues demolition and excavation within the dewatered river chamber at Charleroi Locks and Dam on the lower Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, Oct. 19, 2021. The Pittsburgh District recently finished building the new lock chamber walls and has emptied it of approximately 20 million gallons of water, a process called dewatering, to allow contractors to begin adding the mechanical inner works of the chamber. The new lock chamber is 84 feet wide by 720 feet long, which will allow a nine-barge tow to lock through in 25 minutes, something that would take more than two hours using the older, smaller lock chamber. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 211019-A-TI382-0877

“We can’t meet any of our missions without executing contracts every year,” said Joshua Kaufmann, the chief of the contracting office at the Pittsburgh District.

Government agencies have seen a rising need for contract specialists since 2010, and the Pittsburgh District is among them.

“It’s a competitive field for employers because there are so many open positions and not enough people to fill them,” Kaufmann said.

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District pack up their laptops at the end of a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1791

To understand the demand for government contracting positions, simply search on the USAjobs.gov website. At the time of the publishing of this article, a search for “administrator” results in about 750 open positions. “Accountant” and “human resources” will result in 200 to 500 job offers. “Budget analyst” and “engineer” searches come out strong with 1,200 and 1,500 listings, respectively.

However, a search for “contracting” displays the most with 1,600 results, 80 percent of which offer a salary of $80,000 or more.

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Connie Ferguson, a contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, works in her office in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1028

“I love working in contracting. My work directly contributes to maintaining our projects, providing recreational opportunities, and serving people,” said Janie Roney, a contracting officer with the Pittsburgh District.

Roney has 19 years of contracting experience, seven of which have been with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“It always amazes me to hear about a project, knowing it became a reality thanks to the contracting office. It is great knowing that my work provides jobs for the public and contractors,” she said.

A helicopter lifting trees and concrete blocks to place them in a water basin on the Ohio River.
Pittsburgh District delivers new fish habitats on Ohio River
A helicopter contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District lifts a tree bundle over the Montgomery Locks and Dam in Monaca, Pennsylvania, Aug. 8, 2023. The Pittsburgh District used a helicopter to lift 29 trees bundles and concrete blocks to create a new fish habitat in a water basin on the Ohio River. The fishery will mitigate impact caused by construction planned in the coming years at three locks and dams nearby. The construction of the three new locks is part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, a multi-billion-dollar project that will benefit inland navigation. The district will remove the auxiliary chambers at the Montgomery, Dashields and Emsworth locks and dams, replacing them with larger navigation chambers. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 230808-A-TI382-2195

Contract specialists are responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs. They fulfill requirements to provide the best value for the government.

“If you boil down the contract specialist role, they’re business advisors,” Kaufmann said. “They offer business advice related to policies and economics and provide acquisition tools for whatever requirement a government agency might have.”

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1603

In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. Each action can take weeks or months of research, requiring various level of review and collaboration with other departments. Contract specialists need to be meticulous and attentive to detail, Kaufmann said.

“I appreciate their passion for the mission,” said Michelle McDowell, a contracting branch chief who has worked in contracting since 2004. 

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Josh Kaufmann, right, the chief of the contracting office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares a laugh with Connie Ferguson, a contracting officer, after presenting her with a coin and certificate to recognize her 15 years of federal service in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1355

“When a contract specialist receives an acquisition assignment, they own that action.  They will do their due diligence to work with the customer to get what they need based on the requirement and timeline,” she said.

Pittsburgh District’s contracting office has a staff of 20 people, with several vacancies in the office currently. Because of their workload, the office is looking to hire new specialists nearly every year. To fill some of their personnel needs, they have also offered “tour of duty” positions to Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers to work in their office on active-duty orders. Currently two noncommissioned officers work in tour-of-duty positions for the contracting office.

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Sgt. 1st Class Shantae Mollison, a U.S. Army Reserve contracting specialist on active-duty orders with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, shares information during a contracting team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The Pittsburgh District offers “tour of duty” positions to Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers to work in their office full time to help fill vacant positions. Currently two noncommissioned officers work in the contracting office. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1658

Still, the work never ends, often resulting in overtime hours to meet strict deadlines. The team handles contracts in a huge variety of scope, size, dollar value, complexity and purpose.

“It’s a cradle-to-grave process where we manage contracts until they’re fully paid, delivered and closed out,” Kaufmann said. “Depending on the dollar value and complexity, we’re responsible for the solicitation process, getting quotes, proposals, bids, evaluating them, making an award, and then administering everything after.”

The team manages a variety of contracts and programs. It oversees the credit card purchase programs; it purchases large equipment such as boats, excavators, or other machinery; it contracts for services to maintain the buildings and grounds at various federal facilities; it fulfills outsource contracts for specialized engineering or medical services the district needs, it manages the FEMA contract to install generators to provide temporary emergency power during natural disasters, and more.

A contractor smooths concrete that is placed in the covered area at the temporary school, Dec. 29, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii.
USACE making progress on temporary school
A contractor smooths concrete that is placed in the covered area at the temporary school, Dec. 29, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proceeding with a FEMA mission assignment to support the state of Hawai'i and the state Department of Education to design and oversee the installation of a temporary elementary school campus for the Lahaina community. As of Dec. 23, 2023, the first two rows of classrooms have been set with work commencing on the third row for a total of 20 classrooms and two restrooms set. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Charles Delano)
Photo By: Charles Delano
VIRIN: 231229-A-PA223-1028

“Performing a contract for something like buildings and grounds can sound like boring stuff, but when the toilets are clean, the grass is mowed, and our visitors can enjoy our recreational areas without complaints, that is rewarding,” Kaufmann said.

Park rangers and maintenance workers add amenities for visitors at Stonewall Jackson
Headwaters Highlights: Stonewall Jackson team keeps it ‘in-hou
A contracted landscaper mows the lawn at Stonewall Jackson Lake in Weston, West Virginia. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District presented the management and maintenance team at Stonewall Jackson Lake with the 2023 “Project Site of the Year” for the amenities they added to improve visitor experience at the dam and reservoir. The team built a handicap-accessible overlook area, a fishing deck, a sand digger pit for kids, picnic tables, pavilions, and a sandbag tossing game, among other amenities for visitors to enjoy. Stonewall Jackson Lake is in Lewis County, West Virginia, and one of 16 flood-control projects in the Pittsburgh District. The reservoir provides flood protection for the Monongahela, upper Ohio, and West Fork rivers. The corps began constructing Stonewall Jackson Lake in 1983 and completed it in 1990, though the dam has been operating since January 1988. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 230817-A-TI382-1755

Other contracts are more monumental than cleaning toilets. The Pittsburgh District has been building and maintaining river locks, dams and reservoirs since the late 1800s. For the past three decades, it executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River.

Public affairs specialists from across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division came to the Pittsburgh District to train on their photography and multimedia skills during the first regional visual storytelling workshop hosted by the district’s public affairs office.
Montgomery Locks and Dam
A downstream view of Montgomery Locks and Dam on the Ohio River near Monaca, Pennsylvania, Oct. 25, 2023. Public affairs specialists from across the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division came to the Pittsburgh District to train on their photography and multimedia skills during the first regional visual storytelling workshop hosted by the district’s public affairs office. The navigation facility at Montgomery is part of the Upper Ohio Navigation Project, a multi-billion-dollar construction project that will replace locks at Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery locks and dams. The project will replace the auxiliary chamber at each site, measuring 56 feet wide by 360 feet long, with locks measuring 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 231025-A-TI382-2056

Kaufmann is thankful for all the complex, detailed work his team accomplishes to benefit the region. They learn much of their work on the job because every contracting action is different.

College students interested in a government job in contracting are required to have a bachelor’s degree in any field. It helps to have college credits in business, such as economics, management, or accounting, but not mandatory. The Department of Defense made the change in required education in the last few years to help job recruiting.

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1366

“There’s no four-year degree at colleges or universities that teaches everything we do in contracting,” Kaufmann said.

Although a specific contracting degree doesn’t exist, a student’s GPA can help determine their salary. With a GPA of at least 3.0, a college graduate would be eligible for a GS-07 pay grade, earning a starting salary of $48,000 out of college in the Pittsburgh area.

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District share a laugh during a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1515

“It is a teachable job,” Kaufmann said. “We often train new specialists who don’t have the experience required when they get hired. We invest resources into them to prepare them on the job.”

“Contracting is challenging and fast-paced. You exercise mastery of complex cognitive skills, and you get a sense of purpose that enables all other mission sets to succeed,” Kaufmann said.

Kaufman said the Pittsburgh District can be a great place to propel a contracting career. There seems to be a huge shortage of contracting professionals, and they take three to four years to grow, train and coach to be proficient in their field, he said.

The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government.
Careers in Contracting Office
Members of the contracting office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District attend a team meeting in Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 2024. The contracting office is responsible for researching and writing contracts for goods and services that meet specific needs provided by vendors or agencies outside of the government. In fiscal year 2023, Pittsburgh District’s contracting office completed more than 500 actions worth over $140 million. For the past three decades, the office executed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the navigation system on the Monongahela River, and it will offer new contracts worth hundreds of millions more to construct new chambers on the Ohio River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 240130-A-TI382-1728

He mentioned teachers as one category that would make great candidates as contract specialists. Their organizational skills, education, and attention to detail would translate well into a new career in contracting.

“Once you get the skills and the training, you can leverage your experience to go anywhere. The Army Corps of Engineers has contracting jobs all over the world,” he said.

Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023.
Concrete Shaft Enclosure Install
Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District install a 23-foot-tall concrete shaft enclosure weighing approximately 120,000 pounds as part of the guard wall at the Monongahela River Locks and Dam 4 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16, 2023. The contractor utilized an A-frame crane named "Big Al" to lift, relocate, and position the shaft enclosure. Over nearly two decades, the Pittsburgh District has been engaged in constructing a new 720-foot-long by 84-foot-wide navigation chamber in Charleroi. This year, they filled the chamber with water and installed new miter gates. The completion of the guard wall constitutes the final phase of this extensive construction project. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District photo by Michel Sauret)
Photo By: Michel Sauret
VIRIN: 231116-A-TI382-1068

 

“Headwaters Highlights” is part of a story series to highlight every one of the facilities or teams that make the Pittsburgh District’s mission possible. Pittsburgh District’s 26,000 square miles include portions of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland, and southwestern New York. It has more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 navigation locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose flood-control reservoirs, 42 local flood-protection projects, and other projects to protect and enhance the nation’s water resources, infrastructure and environment.


Chick Lock

Through deeds, not words, we are BUILDING STRONG®