By Clay Cole, Mission and Installation Contracting Command deputy to the commanding generalAugust 15, 2018
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Aug. 15, 2018) -- As everyone across the Mission and Installation Contracting Command is focused on supporting end-of-fiscal-year operations, it is still crucial for us to begin looking into fiscal 2019 and 2020 to ensure we are postured to best support Soldiers and the Army. Two keys initiatives that will impact the command are ongoing changes to contracting metrics at the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement and Army Contracting Command level and category management.
Both DASA(P) and ACC apply metrics in measuring the success of their respective organizations. This requires the MICC to relook at our metrics so we don't duplicate work while ensuring all we do is in alignment with our higher headquarters. Moreover, we are reshaping MICC metrics to get away from lagging indicators and toward leading indicators.
As we look at our metrics and those from ACC and DASA(P), we want to ensure they are appropriate, relevant and measure what the command needs to successfully execute our contracting mission. In other words, are we measuring the right things? Are we checking what we are required to do by statute or regulation? Do our metrics help to improve our overall operation? If not, then maybe we should change or eliminate those that are not value added.
I have asked the staff, with input from the brigades and field directorate offices, to review our program. We are also assessing the MICC program against known and emerging higher headquarters metrics with which we must comply. There are two intended outcomes. First, the MICC must crosswalk our metrics with ACC and DASA(P) to ensure the minimal impact on the workforce while maintaining required compliance. Second, we must ensure that metrics are truly an effective measure of what this command does as a contracting enterprise. The use of the Virtual Contracting Enterprise-Paperless Contract File program is a good example of a current metric that has fallen short of its purpose and is currently ineffective.
For example, we found through the command procurement management review program that most offices have been lacking documentation in PCF folders. Huge amounts of required documentation has never been posted to the PCF folder. By the way, the VCE-PCF folder has been the official contract file of record since 2011.
In a memorandum dated June 20, 2018, the vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army and the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology mandated the use of VCE for the requiring activities and customers because it "provides standardization across the enterprise while providing senior Army leadership oversight of contracting data. PCF provides the workforce with the ability to store, access, and route the documents necessary to manage the acquisition process for review and approval, and allows visibility from both a mission partner and contract management/workload standpoint." This mandate reinforces the criticality of the VCE-PCF as the office file of record.
The command will be placing considerable focus on this particular metric now and throughout the future in order to ensure the MICC becomes compliant with this particular Army-level requirement.
The purpose of metrics is to give leaders more visibility of the workload. You cannot measure and manage what you cannot see. The MICC headquarters owes subordinate leaders a way to duplicate and regularly review command metrics at the execution level. To that end, the MICC Contracting Operations Directorate staff is working with the ACC CONOPS staff and DASA(P) to obtain and provide those processes to subordinate leaders. The MICC learned this lesson when it began its command metric program, and it was materially instrumental in the success of our program. The MICC command team wants to ensure that we are able to be successful with higher headquarters imposed metrics as well.
There is a new DOD initiative known as category management that is gaining momentum within the Army and especially with one of the MICC's major supported command, Installation Management Command. Category management is seen as a means to gain efficiencies through improved processes in engineering, logistics and acquisition. The MICC is working in conjunction with IMCOM, the Air Force and Office of the Secretary of Defense for Installations, Energy and Environment to develop contracts through the "category management program" and use of centers of excellence to manage specific portfolios.
Category management is grouping similar contracts. For example, every Army installation has a facility maintenance or base operations contract. So any contract dealing with facility maintenance would fall under the facility maintenance portfolio. Instead of managing all these contracts at every installation, we can manage them at the enterprise level and gain efficiencies in the acquisition process. Examples include the use of standardized performance work statements, fairly standardized acquisition strategies, the establishment of standing source selection teams and such. The intent is to find success and then replicate it time after time in order to improve both processes and the product. The objective is to reduce contract execution time to include everything from initiation through award, standardize practices, reduce or eliminate bridges, and improve the budgeting process in order to save funds that can be utilized elsewhere within the Army.
We are looking at utilizing category management for our top 165 requirements that account for 80 percent of our dollars. We have identified those requirements and grouped them into portfolios are assigning offices and centers to execute certain portfolios. We are looking at consolidating training contracts at MICC-Fort Eustis; contracts for ranges to be worked at MICC-Fort Hood; professional services actions to be accomplished at MICC-Fort Knox; and food services to be managed at MICC-Fort Sam Houston. The center of excellence for facilities services and construction will be determined by fiscal 2021.
Category managers at the MICC Headquarters Contracting Operations Directorate will be responsible for managing these categories. The centers of excellence will execute the category management requirements. We are looking to establish a principal assistant responsible for contracting, or PARC, for each category who will be responsible for managing the pre-award. We have a planner, we have an executer and a monitor. This is how we want to manage big contracts, which will promote a more efficient way of contracting to bring savings to the Army.
By establishing centers of excellence, we can gain consistency on standardized requirements and contract costs as well as streamline the acquisition process. These 165 major actions also impact our small business and competition goals, so we can manage those at the same time.
Category management is more than just services. It impacts commodity buys as well. For example, IMCOM acquires hundreds of industrial size HVAC systems annually, yet it does not have a standard HVAC system for any of its 100-plus installations. As a result, there are a wide variety of systems, each with varying power loads, capacity, installation and maintenance processes, etc. scattered across the IMCOM footprint. IMCOM is looking at trying to establish standard units for specific installations. This practice could save IMCOM millions of dollars annually because they could, through category management, establish requirements contracts that take advantage of quantity purchases and standardized HVAC operations across the entire command. Category management also applies to custodial services and others. We have had discussions with Training and Doctrine Command leaders concerning standardizing their schoolhouse packages. It doesn't mean everyone gets the same contract, but they are all similar so we don't have to recreate the wheel. If we are developing an instructor package for Fort Benning, it shouldn't be radically different from what we are doing for Fort Lee. The bottom line of category management is the intent to develop programs that are repeatable and refineable while reducing the workload for both the requiring activity and contracting office.
As you can see, there are a number of actions in motion throughout the command that will impact almost everyone in some way or another. I ask that everyone embrace these changes, whether small or great, within your area of operations. I also solicit your input, through CONOPS channels, so that we may assess, evaluate and action recommendations that will benefit the command.
In closing, I want to personally thank every MICC member for your dedication to duty and selfless service toward the efforts of this command to provide what our Soldiers need, when they need it, where they need it.