Expeditionary Contracting/Contingency Contracting
What is it?
The term “expeditionary or contingency contracting” is new and reflects the unique contracting challenges the Army now faces. The standard contracting process is not designed to rapidly and effectively award contracts in response to immediate needs in hi-tempo, combat environments. Expediting contract awards is critical in an era of persistent conflict because the needs of the operational commander are often immediate. The term “expeditionary contracting” describes the concept for effectively meeting contracting requirements of an expeditionary Army in this environment.
What has the Army done?
In September 2007, the Secretary of the Army appointed the “Special Commission on Army Acquisition Program Management in Expeditionary Operations” to review contracting as it related to the war effort. From this “Special Commission”, the Gansler Report was released that identified systemic problems and made numerous recommendations that the Army is now addressing. The report stated that products must be purchased quickly from host-nation countries that involve host-nation businesses, who may have very different cultural standards and training. Some of the present statutory provisions, such as the Buy American Act and the Berry Amendment, have created new challenges for military contracting officers who must expedite the contracting process in a contingency environment for the safety of the War fighters. Therefore, the Army is seeking specific Congressional relief from some of these statutory provisions.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army is proactively working to implement the recommendations identified in the Gansler's Commission Report. The key issues identified were: (1) not enough people, (2) too little training, and (3) antiquated systems. The Army is planning to reorganize its procurement leadership structure and increase its contracting workforce over the next two to three years.
Why is this important to the Army?
Due to the post-Cold War cuts to the Army acquisition budget that created an undersized acquisition workforce, the Army recognize the need to hire more contracting officers and to train them properly since the workload in contracting actions has increased more than 350 percent in the last 12 years; coupled with the fact, that the Army’s contacting-oversight workforce has been almost cut in half. Expeditionary contracting is a subset of Department of Defense contracting that involves awarding and managing contracts to meet the war fighter’s needs. Timely and efficient contracting for materiel, supplies and services in support of expeditionary operations, and the subsequent management of those contracts, is now and will continue to be a key component for achieving success in future military operations.