JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- (March 3, 2016) Plans to centralize test and evaluation contracts in support of the Army Test and Evaluation Command includes the establishment of a center of excellence at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Hood, Texas.The MICC CoE will be one of two organizations that administers contracts for ATEC, which is responsible for all Army developmental and operational testing of weapon systems used by Soldiers. A second CoE is being stood up at the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.Christopher Chapple is chief of the ATEC Support Division at MICC-Fort Hood. He said the idea of centralizing the contracts for test and evaluation has been the topic of discussion for a handful of years but efforts to officially formalize the concept through a draft higher headquarters operational order began at the end of 2015. A MICC operational order on the consolidation was published Feb. 24.Having served as a procurement analyst with the 418th Contracting Support Brigade at Fort Hood before moving over to take the division chief position in November 2015, Chapple is leading the effort to stand up the CoE."The driving force from the MICC's perspective was to centralize support of ATEC requirements at one center to economize similar actions at the four different geographically dispersed test ranges or proving grounds," he said. "Efficiency and effectiveness could be obtained by grouping like requirements under enterprise contracts executed by contracting personnel experienced in test support contracts."Chapple explained that ACC-APG will serve as the primary coordinator for the ATEC contracting workload transferred from ACC contracting centers. MICC-Fort Hood will be responsible for the contract execution and administration in support of ATEC's Operational Test Command and three major range and test facility installations at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona."The goal of establishing the two CoEs was to leverage existing contracting expertise and provide focal points for implementing enterprise solutions and efficiencies," Chapple said.He added that standing up the MICC CoE, however, has proven challenging as the dynamic of acquisition expertise following years of hiring freezes, a lure of early retirement and the growth of interns and new hires to the contracting workforce have all evolved since the plan's inception. Since the start of this fiscal year, the division has accepted 14 contract actions from White Sands Missile Range and Dugway Proving Grounds valued at more than $820 million. Eight of the 14 contracts accepted will need to be awarded within the next 18 months to support follow-on services efforts.Having already reached a workload capacity with the acceptance of these actions while still in the throes of bolstering its staff, the contracting division is relying on its higher headquarters to help manage the migration of additional contract actions. Jim Clift, a 418th Contracting Support Brigade procurement analyst, said the brigade has combined its resources to augment MICC-Fort Hood."One example is teaming the cost and price analysts throughout the brigade to surge support to Fort Hood for our larger cost-type requirements," Clift said.The MICC commonly contracts three major types of services and several smaller services in support of ATEC. The three major services include test support, instrumentation and information technology. Additional contracted support services consist of environmental support to include chemical remediation and radiation protection, aviation, meteorology, explosive ordnance disposal, ammo supply point, barrier maintenance, and intrusion detection maintenance.The ATEC contracting division chief describes the workload as cyclical, representing more than 20 critical reoccurring contracts with an estimated value of more than $2 billion in any five-year period. This includes efforts above $250 million for large industry as well as smaller opportunities set aside for small business 8(a) firms with values up to $100 million.
In an effort to avoid any delays in the execution of new or follow-on contracts, Clift said the 418th CSB and MICC headquarters are "working together on a solution of concurrent review to streamline the process for acquisitions."ATEC plays a pivotal role in the Army's acquisition decisions by providing information collected from its more than 1,000 experiments, developmental testing, operational testing and independent evaluations and assessments conducted daily. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, ATEC testing centers are located throughout the United States.