By Samantha HillNovember 20, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - As Army Contracting Command looks toward fiscal 2019 and beyond, the organization's commander is calling for employees and leaders to examine how they can operate more efficiently.
"I am very confident all 6,000 people (in the command) are rowing in the same direction and that we are going to get all the money obligated," said ACC Commander Maj. Gen. Paul Pardew, referring to the fiscal 2019 acquisition cycle. "But now we need to get after contract administration."
In fiscal 2018, ACC obligated $69.6 billion through 154,000 contract actions, but Pardew says now is not the time to celebrate. There is still work to be done, and with a defense budget passed in October, the time to change is now, he said.
"We have a sweet spot in the next two years where the Army can get after its readiness and modernization efforts, and I don't want to sit back on my heels and wait for things to happen," said Pardew who took command May 31. "I want to get aggressive and go on the offense."
One change he would like to see is the contracting workforce consistently working to return unliquidated funds to the Army. On average, he said the Army has accrued billions in unliquidated obligations across multiple fiscal years.
"If you are in a constrained (fiscal) environment and you have billions that are out there unliquidated on contracts that are past their performance period, you ought to try to return it back to the Army," said Pardew. "It is purely an efficiencies move to return resources back to the Army so the Army can use it toward readiness and modernization."
In conjunction with this effort, Pardew said the Army is examining its contract spend. While some contracts are executed installation by installation, the Army is analyzing which contracts should be strategically managed.
An example of using strategic sources is the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program. He said LOGCAP has worked well during natural disasters like Hurricane Maria, where ACC specialists were trained and ready to execute the mission before disaster struck. That being said, there are other areas of contract spend in services that lend themselves to strategic sourcing, Pardew said.
As contracts move through the acquisition life cycle, he wants contracting specialists to hold their customers accountable. In situations where customers are unable to provide proper documents or they make decisions that negatively impact the contract, contracting specialists need to have a frank conversation about the impact to the acquisition, he said.
"We as a community, a lot of times, have taken on all of the responsibilities for the acquisition as it goes down its life cycle," said Pardew. "There is a need to hold our customers accountable for their part of the process."
While looking into culture and efficiency changes, Pardew said ACC will reshape and reform. The workforce can see changes in where people sit, but they should not expect to see new people, new brigades or new centers. The biggest structure change he wants to see is for each contracting center to have a contracting operations section to help see ACC's contracts across their performance and life cycle.
The changes are driven by what ACC can do to better serve the Army, Pardew said. By continuing to use data analytics and the Virtual Contracting Enterprise to track the organization, he wants to objectively measure the command.
As ACC drives forward, Pardew is looking back at his career and his life growing up in an Army family. Both his father and two grandfathers served, he was born in an Army hospital, and he attended Army schools.
"The Army is all I know; I get choked up about it because the Army gave me everything," said Pardew. "I'm very proud of my service, the people I work with and of what I've done in the Army."