JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- (July 20, 2016) Soldiers fulfilling their military obligation or planning to retire are now being assisted by a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business for preparing to transition from military service to civilian life.Contracting officials from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, awarded a contract at the end of June to Inverness Technologies Inc. to provide Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program, or SFL-TAP, services in support of the Army Human Resources Command.Stephanie Bowman, the MICC-Fort Knox contracting officer for the acquisition, said the contract reinforces the Army and nation's commitment to the men and women serving whose shared experiences with fellow veterans providing services helps lessen the stress associated with the transition."As a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business, many of the contractor's staff experienced struggles with disabilities and career transition as former Soldiers. They understand the mission of the contract, having followed similar footsteps in navigating through transition to a civilian career," Bowman said. "This ability to relate to Soldiers greatly enhances the transition process, resulting in successful obtainment of post military employment."Award of the contract also marks a transition from services being provided by a large business to a small business. Defense acquisition regulations allow contracting officials to exercise discretionary authority in identifying opportunities for small business set-aside programs.
MICC-Fort Knox conducted market research as part of the pre-solicitation process, which identified a sufficient number of service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses qualified to provide transition services.Inverness Technologies, which has been supporting the federal government in the transition assistance arena for more than 10 years, was one of the competitors submitting proposals for the contract. The contract, originally solicited in early 2015, is for one year plus two additional option years. The value of the contract if both option years are exercised is $60 million and represents a significant savings to the government and taxpayer, according to Bowman.The contract was initially solicited as a cost-plus, fixed-fee contract that is used when uncertainties in contract performance requirements do not permit costs to be estimated with sufficient accuracy for a fixed price contract. However, Bowman said the stability of SFL-TAP since 2012, after implementation of the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, allowed her and customer HRC to develop a well-defined performance work statement capturing specific tasks and detailed workload as well as identify established skills sets and education necessary to perform the tasks."I determined it was in the best interest of the government to procure these services as a firm-fixed price contract, resulting in an approximate $24 million savings per year over a three year contract period," Bowman said.Phase-in of services between the new and outgoing contractors began earlier this month in preparation to assume full performance in early September. Phase-in calls for hiring actions, completing requirements to offer services at overseas locations, and obtaining required certification and clearances. Monitoring successful completion of these activities will be performed by alternate contracting officer representatives at their respective locations.Award of the contract comes as the Army continues to reduce the size of the force. Transition services available through SFL-TAP benefit thousands of Soldiers each year as Army leaders continue to implement force management tools to meet a congressionally mandated end strength. Based on funding, Army leaders said the service has decreased to the lowest manning level since World War II.Bowman said services falling under the SFL-TAP contract include tailored transition assistance counseling and employment assistance services to Soldiers transitioning from both active and reserve components of the Army, guardsmen and DOD members at select joint bases, Army civilian employees, family members and military retirees and veterans.SFL-TAP also supports the career readiness of Soldiers, which is measured as part of a mandate by the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. Employment assistance training is provided primarily by Department of Labor TAP facilitators through employment workshops. Contract installation managers and counselors encourage Soldiers to use SFL-TAP resources and provide additional information, assistance and coaching through just-in-time services, resource and scheduled transition and employment assistance counseling.Army leaders said SFL efforts have assisted in reducing the veteran unemployment rate to a seven-year low at 4.5 percent, remaining lower than the national average of 5 percent.Located south of Louisville, Kentucky, MICC-Fort Knox contracts for a wide spectrum of services, supplies, maintenance and construction in support of activities located at Fort Knox and satellite organizations. Made up of approximately 95 military and civilian members, its core customers include the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel, Human Resources Command, Cadet Command, Recruiting Command, Military Entrance Processing Command and the Army Manpower and Reserve Affairs' Marketing Research Group. In fiscal 2015, MICC-Fort Knox executed more than 3,050 contract actions valued at more than $795 million, including more than $257 million to American small businesses. The contracting office also managed more than 58,000 Government Purchase Card Program transactions in fiscal 2015 valued at an additional $284 million.