TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Tobyhanna Army Depot awarded contracts worth millions of dollars to small business vendors, shattering the Army's socioeconomic goals for fiscal year 2015.

A number of modernization projects and mission support initiatives during the year set a brisk pace for purchase agents; however, the depot's ace in the hole was an innovative approach to working with small business contractors. Contract specialists here developed and implemented Tobyhanna's first Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC), which streamlined how contractors were selected for particular jobs.

The depot paid more than $150 million to dozens of local, regional and national businesses for work performed during the fiscal year. Monies spent in the local area -- Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties -- totaled more than $11 million. Of that amount, more than $2.5 million was distributed to small businesses.

The Army's measurement for success is an organization's ability to meet or exceed the established goals of contract dollars that should go to small business vendors. To qualify, vendors must meet conditions set forth in five categories: small business, service-disabled veteran-owned, woman-owned, HUBZone and small disadvantaged.

"Small business did very well this year," said Small Business Specialist Dave Kern, explaining that each socioeconomic category has a percentage of contract dollars that should be awarded to small business. "For instance, Tobyhanna achieved more than 46 percent in the small business category, well over this year's 22.5 percent goal." Kern works for the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Tobyhanna Division.

Equally impressive were the totals in the remaining four categories. In the small disadvantaged business category, Tobyhanna ended the year with 21.08 percent, well over the 5.5 percent goal; the HUBZone category realized 10.91 percent, which surpassed the 1.5 percent standard; woman-owned small business claimed 5 percent, exceeding the 2.5 percent objective; and the service-disabled veteran-owned small business category achieved 7.97 percent, besting the 2 percent target.

Small business vendors are working on projects at several locations around the depot. For instance the $11 million post restaurant renovation was awarded via the MATOC to a HUBZone vendor. There's also a standalone contract for $2.1 million awarded to a service-disabled veteran-owned small business vendor to modernize one building. Kern also noted the recent completion of a task order concerning work on the dust enclosures in another.

"We have a lot of buildings on the depot that need to be modernized," Kern said. "Other contracts are for vendors that support the mission by providing items such as electronics parts, circuit cards, wire for cable assemblies and transistors."

Kern mentioned one success story about a company representative from Troy, Michigan, who happened to be in the right place at the right time to secure a $60,000 contract. Purchase agents had an open requirement for wire and cable during the representative's first visit to the depot.

The MATOC was created to help personnel carry out a large number of modernization projects approved and funded during the fiscal year. It was established as a small business set aside -- a set-aside restricts, or reserves, contracts exclusively for small business participation. The demographics for the MATOC vendors meet the criteria for the five socioeconomic groups, Kern explained. Furthermore, four contractors on the list are local businesses.

"We awarded one big umbrella contract that let us solicit vendors, then generate a pool of qualified contractors," Kern said. "Now instead of processing each project one at a time, members of the pool compete for upcoming construction requirements."

Like any small city, contract specialists also manage service contracts for jobs such as landscaping, soil and water sampling, and janitorial services.

Federal acquisition regulations dictate purchase agents search for vendors using sources within the government before going to the open market.

"If we find what we're looking for at a mandatory location we're required to source requests through that organization," Kern said, naming GSA (General Services Administration), UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries), SourceAmerica and Industries for the Blind as examples.

It's important for businesses to understand how they can support Tobyhanna's mission, according to Kern, adding that the depot looks for vendors to provide products and services to support the mission -- anything from construction and test equipment to hard-to-find parts for production.

Earlier this year Tobyhanna hosted or participated in events to help educate small business owners on the needs of the installation.

Industry Day was an opportunity for industry partners to tour the facility and attend briefings. In addition, small business gained new insight on partnering with federal and state governments during a contracting symposium held on one of the local college campuses. Both events drew hundreds of attendees and businesses nationwide.

Each occasion was described as "eye opening" by many people who attended.

The president of one company was impressed by the body of knowledge presented during Industry Day. At the end of the two days he said he felt more energized about pursuing requirements within their scope of expertise.

"Tobyhanna does a very good job of rotating vendors and giving everyone a chance to work with us," Kern said. "The success of the small business program can be attributed to the hard work of the entire contracting team."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for C4ISR systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our Joint Warfighters.

About 3,100 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.