What is the goal of the single Army Contract Writing and Management System and what are the benefits of having one system?

In response to the October 2011 mandate from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, to discontinue the use of the current, joint Department of Defense contract writing system (the Standard Procurement System) by the end of fiscal year 2015, the Army now has an opportunity to transition to a single, enterprise, contract writing system which will increase business process efficiencies, support compliance with the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996, and better integrate with existing Army enterprise resource planning solutions.

The Army's proposed solution will decrease the number of complex interfaces and foster auditability while simultaneously promoting the Department of Defense's procure-to-pay acquisition focus area. The Army will streamline its current use of two independent contract writing solutions into a single enterprise approach that will be utilized in all facets of the Army contracting mission, such as installation support, contingency, construction, major weapons systems, grants and agreements, and secure environment contracting.

Who is managing and providing oversight of this effort?

With the approval of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, we have established a formal product manager under the U.S. Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems as the material developer of the proposed system. In conjunction with that action, as the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Procurement, I appointed the U.S. Army Contracting Command to act as my agent to establish and staff a contracting capabilities management office on behalf of the Army contracting enterprise.

The CMO will function as the capabilities developer to elicit, curate, and refine a set of unified functional requirements with the participation from each of our Army contracting activities and our stakeholder partners (e.g. finance, logistics). The CMO will present those requirements to our procurement systems governance board, chartered to oversee the orderly development and deployment of procurement systems across the Army contracting enterprise.

What are the biggest challenges in providing this type of system?

Without a doubt, our biggest challenge in the face of fiscal uncertainty is to identify the right set of functional contracting capabilities to meet our full spectrum contracting mission, and marrying those capabilities into an affordable, efficient software solution. Additionally, the Army continues to have executive agency responsibility for all theater-based (operational) contracting, so the solution we identify must be readily deployable to any environment, to support any mission, anywhere.

Will the system be required and used Army-wide? DoD-wide?

There is no one-size-fits-all contract writing and management system. That being said, within the Army we must have a single solution. We are sharing the results of our market research and capabilities analysis with the other services/agencies so they can leverage our lessons learned. It is not the Army's intent, however, to develop a DOD-wide solution.

The mandate from the Honorable Mr. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) is actionable on each of the DOD services and agencies. Specifically, Mr. Kendall has said that "...as emerging technologies and contracting capabilities no longer require a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to system development and implementation, one contracting system for the whole department is not envisioned."

Consequently, the Army's approach is to identify a single solution, based on a best value approach that will best meet the Army's full-range contracting mission needs. Once identified and deployed, the system will be mandatory for all Army contracting activities, both CONUS and OCONUS.

When do you think the new system will be ready for fielding?

The USD(ATL) mandate is to cease creating all contract actions with the legacy Standard Procurement System contract writing system by the end of September 2015, and to fully terminate the use of SPS and decommission the software no later than the end of September 2017. With those goals in mind, and notwithstanding any unforeseeable roadblocks, we are striving to identify a sustainable solution, with a phased approach to deployment and training as early as the first quarter of fiscal year 2016.

How will this help the contracting workforce? Will it make contracting more efficient and effective?

We believe a single approach to contract writing, with an enterprise approach in mind, will result in significant process efficiencies since it will eliminate redundancies and establish a single process baseline, facilitating more efficient and timely training.

Our initial analysis incorporated operational, management, usability and technical/functional requirements needed to meet or exceed our current capability. There will be a degree of business process reengineering that will result in more effective contracting related business practices. By employing a solid business process reengineering process, we hope to gain significant efficiencies through adaptability and interoperability to external systems.

In addition, our goal is to support the priorities of the DOD Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan by ensuring the contract writing solution facilitates the financial community's requirement to derive auditable financial statements based on data derived from the contract document.

We envision a system that will assist the goals of improved financial management through increased emphasis on audit readiness and accountability. Overall, our goal is to streamline acquisition end-to-
end business processes, reduce operating, maintenance and support costs, and to decrease and, where applicable, mitigate the number of existing and future interfaces.