MOLINE, Ill. -- Senior Army personnel and military contractors discussed the Army's declining financial resources, its increased operational requirements, and its continuing need for contracted support during the ninth annual Midwest Small Business Government Contracting Symposium at the iWireless Center, here, May 24-25.

More than 200 businesses registered for the event.

Lisha Adams, executive deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command, discussed the need to reduce the cost of Army operations with increased public-private sector partnerships.

"We cannot accomplish our mission without you," she said speaking to large and small business contractors during the opening ceremony. "We must continue to look for ways to be more efficient and to reduce our cost of doing business -- we need to increase the use of public-private partnerships."

Adams emphasized the importance of developing science and technology.

"As we look at our limited resources, we must effectively balance our investments to achieve maximum benefits," through investments in science, technology and development.

Adams said AMC had over 290 public-private sector partnerships and over 200 cooperative research and development agreements in 2015.

"The Army's success over the past 15 years has been a direct result of the team effort with industry," she said.

Adams also talked about AMC's overall mission, which is to provide all the logistics capabilities, services and supplies Soldiers need for mission success.

"AMC is the Army's primary provider of materiel readiness, and is responsible for equipping, sustaining and enabling the warfighter through technology, acquisition support, material development and logistics power projection," she said.

Following Adams's speech, Michael Hutchison, deputy to the commander, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, moderated a mission panel with representatives of most of the commands stationed at Rock Island Arsenal.

During the panel, Maj. Gen. Kevin O'Connell, commanding general, ASC, discussed his command's mission, and the logistical needs of the Army.

"Being global, we are in a very complex and volatile world," he said while explaining ASC's organizational structure. "We have about 7,000 Department of the Army Civilians, but the largest group of people who work with us are contractors -- about 25,000 to 26,000 contractors. Again, we cannot execute our mission without you."

Others on the panel included D. Scott Welker, executive director, Joint Munitions Command; Melanie Johnson, executive director, U.S. Army Contracting Command-Rock Island; Col. Donald Wols, commander, Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center; Col. Elmer Speights, commander, Rock Island Arsenal Garrison; and Dennis Hamilton, deputy for programs and project management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Rock Island District.

Each panelist discussed their organization's missions, capabilities and some of their upcoming requirements.

Following the missions panel, Jay Carr, executive director, Acquisition Integration and Management Center, ASC, and Carl Cartwright, executive director, Support Operations, ASC, gave a presentation overviewing AIM. They discussed AIM's current direction and requirements. AIM includes the Logistic Civil Augmentation Program, which provides logistical and base operations support to contingency operations worldwide.

Col. Sean Herron, commander, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, and Joseph Kennedy, commander's representative, Holston Army Ammunition Plant, also presented. They discussed a need for more small business involvement with munitions manufacturing, and they discussed programs they are using to encourage businesses to move into their technical area.

The Small Business Administration provided several speakers for the symposium. The SBA's resources panel primarily focused on tools for navigating the federal system for contracting.

On the second day, Tommy Marks, director, Army Office of Small Business Programs, John Shoraka, associate administrator of government contracting and business development, SBA, and Kenyata Wesley, director, Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs, answered questions and encouraged attendees to take advantage of business development programs.

Wesley emphasized that business seeking to contract with the Army should relate their services to at least some part of the command's current priorities if they want to be considered for various development opportunities.

Marks encouraged attendees to seek further information and resources online by going to the SBA's website.

ACC-RI held a requirements panel, which focused primarily on requirements and challenges related to information technology services and support.

Following the ACC-RI panel, an industry panel provided insight and gave advice about how to be successful. Amy Roddey, president and chief executive officer, Technica LLC, and Tony Keyes, senior vice president business development, NCI Information Systems Incorporated, agreed that small businesses are the most successful when they can receive mentorship from -- and when they partner with -- larger businesses.

To conclude the symposium, senior leaders participated in a panel. Welker moderated the panel and the participants included Hutchison, Cartwright, Carr, Johnson, and Rhonda VanDeCasteele, executive director for ammunition, Joint Munitions Command.

During the panel, several attendees expressed concern over what they said appears to be the federal government's increased tendency to use, "Lowest Price Technically Acceptable," source selection involving IT services. Johnson encouraged those concerned to have very clearly stated reasons for justifying a different source selection method.

She said the comparatively higher quality of the service and/or product needs to be clearly articulated to justify source selections that might cost the government more than the LPTA method. She said it is possible to use other source selection methods, but those methods take more to justify.

Hutchison provided the symposium's closing remarks. He said that as the Army downsizes and contracting officials are reduced, it is important to realize that it may take more effort to contract with the Army in the future, but that the Army is working on more solutions. He thanked the attendees for their support.

The Iowa/Illinois Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association hosted the event, which included various networking opportunities. ASC provided a color guard for the opening ceremony.