By Maj. Michael Mignano, 918th Contingency Contracting BattalionJune 23, 2014
FORT CARSON, Colorado (June 23, 2014) -- Contracting members at Fort Carson, Colorado, have found a way to streamline their data collection process and establish a common operating picture for their organization.
When leaders at the 918th Contingency Contracting Battalion, Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Carson needed contracting data to support their decision making, they would have to pull raw data from multiple systems, combine the data, refine it and analyze the data. Leaders found this process as time consuming and obsolete. Furthermore, access to these systems was restricted to only a few users, severely limiting the ability of division chiefs and team leaders to effectively shift resources and attention to areas of concern in a timely manner. The organization was in need of a system that could provide real-time data points and relevant actionable data for all levels of the unit.
At the same time, on the other side of the country, Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Belvoir, Virginia, personnel were putting the finishing touches on their Contracting Tactical Operating Center application. Their CTOC application was developed to assist leaders manage a diverse and geographically dispersed organization. To create CTOC, MICC-Fort Belvoir personnel utilized existing Army Materiel Command software used for general task management and tailored it into an operational contract support centric application. Once fully implemented, CTOC filled the identical capability gaps for MICC-Fort Belvoir that 918th CCBN personnel were attempting to mitigate. The system provided MICC-Fort Belvoir's leaders and team members a web-based, actionable common operating picture.
In February 2014, MICC-Fort Belvoir officials reached out to the 918th CCBN with an opportunity to beta-test their CTOC application; 918th CCBN officials jumped at the chance. Battalion leaders decided to transition the entire organization to the CTOC application within three days. The first day was devoted to broad application training, the second day to data transfer, and the third day to additional hands-on training and data refinement. This all-in approach to the transition was critical to avoid duplicate data entry on multiple systems, provide command emphasis, and to lessen inherent organizational resistance to change.
Members of the 918th CCBN spent three months beta testing the system and exploring system capabilities in tandem with MICC-Fort Belvoir personnel. The CTOC system is designed around individual office constructs. The system is web-based, translating into less downtime and more accessibility from anywhere in the world. The system allows information searches from a range of data points such as keyword, customer, purchase request number, and other data points.
"The most important capability that the system brought to the organization was a common operating picture," Lt. Col. Christopher Ostby, commander of the 918th CCBN, said. "The application's dashboard allows everyone in the organization the ability to view the real-time planning actions, pre-award, and post-award actions that were in house from one simple screen. Everyone also knows exactly what the commander's contracting priorities are and the breakdown of actions by contracting division and type. For the first time, everyone can see exactly how their individual efforts affect the organization as a whole."
Capt. Peter Luft, mission division deputy chief for the 918th CCBN, said that he immediately embraced the system, because he could see all of his team's actions in a single space. The system immediately displayed for him if his team was meeting the agreed schedule, ahead of schedule or behind schedule for each action. Furthermore, each contracting file offered a complete and non-filtered history of the action. There is no more guessing the status of an action, when the status is updated, if the proper paperwork was received from the customer, or what was still needed by the customer. This allows internal and external leadership to hold their organizations accountable.
The 918th CCBN plans and executes contracting operations to support Fort Carson, the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, and the Pueblo Chemical Depot. The unit also deploys and executes operational contract support for stateside and overseas contingency operations. In fiscal 2013, the unit executed more than $132 million in contracts, including more than $40.7 million to small businesses. The unit also managed more than 14.5 million in Government Purchase Program transactions.