West Point presents distinct role for contracting
August 16, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- As the oldest continuously occupied military post in America, West Point creates an extraordinary workload for contracting professionals here who must harmonize the post's modern needs with its rich history.
Contract actions by the Mission and Installation Contracting Command staff take into consideration the need to preserve a history dating back to the Revolutionary War while incorporating the latest state-of-the-art equipment in support of the post's 4,000-strong cadet corps, 25 intercollegiate athletic teams and premier performing arts center.
Taking on this challenge is a staff of 35 at the MICC Installation Contracting Office-West Point responsible for planning, integrating, awarding and administering contracts in support of the academic dean's office, corps of cadets, garrison, department of public works, directorate of logistics as well as other installation customers and nearby 2nd Aviation at the Stewart Air National Guard Base.
"We have phenomenal employees," insisted Annemarie Kopko, the ICO co-director who will assume duties as director at the end of September. "We're in our little corner of the world here, so it's pretty amazing that we're able to attract the people we do to work. They're smart, motivated and excited about work; and I'm talking about people that have been here more than 20 years as well as those just walking in the door. I'm very impressed."
Dave Bugger, the MICC ICO-West Point fellow director, agreed and commended his staff's work ethic at a time when its workload is going up and a new major customer has just arrived at the post. The ICO was instrumental in the move of the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School from Fort Monmouth, N.J., to West Point in time for the July arrival of the first 246 cadet candidates.
Having served as director since 2006, Bugger's stint with the ICO-West Point began in 1990 and will wrap up in September following his retirement. He points out that the very building in which the contracting office resides is a classic example of the length to which the post leaders attempt to preserve its history.
"It used to be the military police station until it was renovated in the mid-1990s," he said. "The engineer who ran the project said if we would have just knocked it down a new building would have cost less. We preserved the shell of the building and basically gutted the inside."
Kopko said the MICC ICO-West Point is presently administering a $9.2 million construction project in-house as part of a multiple award task order contract through the Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization program. The program aims to keep the inventory of Defense Department facilities in good working order by addressing day-to-day maintenance requirements as well as fund the restoration of aging facilities.
The number of contract actions and modifications for the office remained constant from 2006 to 2009 but jumped by more than 35 percent to 3,358 in 2010. The amount of dollars obligated has also seen a recent spike from $122 million in 2006 to more than $144 million in 2010 and cover the gamut of acquisitions.
"I remember when I first came here, one of my first procurements was to buy a wind tunnel," Kopko said. "We also buy lasers and all kinds of test equipment to support academic research."
Contracting experts also played a major role in the renovation, lighting and sound system of West Point's Eisenhower Hall Theater, which annually hosts national entertainers from stage and music and served as the setting for President Barrack Obama's 2009 address to the nation concerning the surge in Afghanistan.
"It's the second largest performing arts theater on the East Coast, next to Radio City Music Hall, offering a Broadway-caliber venue for performing arts and attracting some of the biggest artists," Bugger said.
From the stage to the sports field, contracting professionals constantly find themselves having to become experts on subjects they've never dreamed of, including football stadium turf.
"We have NCAA-caliber athletic teams here, so it's important that the fields these teams play on meet NCAA standards," Bugger said. "Following a change in technology to Astroturf to reduce injury, West Point's Michie Stadium was one of the first to install the new surface."
"That took a lot of research, and we worked with the football coach and officials from Giants stadium. The sample proposals we received looked like something for a science project in a clear plastic box with a crosscut of dirt and turf," Kopko added. "Some procurements are very complicated but interesting, and you always walk away learning something."