Edition: Fri, November 02, 2007
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Army Further Adapts Institution for Expeditionary Ops;
Heeds Gansler Commission

What is it? In mid-September, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren appointed a special commission to provide a comprehensive review of the state of Army Contracting in expeditionary operations. The Secretary sought an uncompromising, big-picture review of the system and recommendations addressing how to best ensure that the Army is properly equipped for a future characterized by persistent conflict. On Nov. 1, the commission, led by former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Jacques Gansler, briefed their report to Secretary Geren and outlined the systemic problems found in their assessment of Army contracting. The Army Secretary said the report offered the "blunt assessment we asked for and needed, and a plan for the way ahead."

What did the commission find? The commission found that there are not enough people in the Army contracting field, they receive too little training, and the overall system is antiquated. Secretary Geren traced much of the difficulties to post-Cold War cuts in the Army acquisition budget, which led to an undersized acquisition workforce. "This workforce has not been adequately expanded, trained, structured, or empowered to meet the needs of our warfighters, now or in the future," Geren said. "We also need to do a better job in training our commanders on their responsibilities for requirements definition and contractor performance."

The commission outlined four areas as critical to future success: (1) increased stature, quantity and career development for contracting personnel - both military and civilian, particularly for expeditionary operations; (2) restructure of the organization and responsibility to facilitate contracting and contract management; (3) training and tools for overall contracting activities in expeditionary operations; and (4) obtaining legislative, regulatory, and policy assistance to enable contracting effectiveness - important in expeditionary operations.

What has the Army done to fix problems in contracting so far? As a complement to the commission's strategic review, Secretary Geren formed a task force to review current contracting operations and take immediate action where appropriate. The Army Contracting Task Force, by Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson, deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology; and Ms. Kathryn Condon, executive deputy to the commanding general of Army Material Command, have already made actionable recommendations and is implementing improvements.

What does this mean to the Warfighter? The Army understands how critical contracting professionals are to Soldiers on the frontlines around the world. ""The overwhelming majority of our contracting workforce, civilian and military, is doing an outstanding job under challenging circumstances," Geren said. "But, we must do a better job resourcing and supporting them in their critical work. We will take the steps necessary to ensure that we execute our responsibility effectively, efficiently and consistently with Army values. The Army will address faults and implement solutions in the Army contracting field.

What will the Army do in the future? High-quality contracting and procurement must be an Army core competency. It is a priority of the Army to resolve problems within its systems. The Army is changing military-contracting procedures to better support the needs of its expeditionary forces, addressing contracting shortcomings by implementing a joint contracting doctrine, filling its existing modular contracting structure and adjusting to meet documented shortfalls. The Army also is focusing on the training of the contracting force.