By Devon L. Suits, Army News ServiceDecember 6, 2019
WASHINGTON -- The Army Corps of Engineers will be the first organization to test the new Army Contract Writing System in February, a top procurement official said Wednesday.
The new ACWS is slated to replace two outdated systems and provide the Army with a single enterprise writing and management system to help streamline the contracting process, said Stuart Hazlett, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for procurement.
Currently, contracting officials utilize the 23-year-old Standard Procurement System, or SPS, to manage billions in goods and services, Hazlett said during an Association of the U.S. Army Hot Topic forum.
Further, officials also operate the Procurement Automated Data and Document System, or PADDS, to purchase weapon systems and spares. PADDS is now over 40 years old.
"The contracting enterprise is looking forward to the full implementation of the Army Contract Writing System," Hazlett said. "I cannot emphasize the importance of having this system deployed."
Although both legacy systems have been patched and updated to support mission needs, contracting officials still spend most of their time "looking at a computer screen with an hourglass spinning … while I am calling them and saying 'let's go,'" Hazlett added.
The Army is working collaboratively with the Navy as we get closer to deploying the ACWS to ensure we standardize business processes when possible and decrease the number of complex interfaces and redundancies seen in current systems.
The system is fully auditable across the enterprise, Hazlett added. Further, ACWS will be capable of functioning in low bandwidth and disconnected status for expeditionary forces, on both unclassified and classified networks.
"This system would not only expedite the acquisition and contracting process, but it has the ability to award and sustain those major weapons systems," Hazlett said. "The fragility of PADDS will be gone. The panic at the end of a fiscal year -- wondering if the system is down -- will be in the past."
After the initial evaluation, the Army is slated to deploy the system to Mission and Installation Contracting Command starting in June. ACWS leverages cloud technologies, allowing the program to handle and share tremendous amounts of data across the network.
"We will be able to track all of our acquisitions from a complete requirements package to award to contract closeout. It will be interoperable with our finance systems, invoicing, and payments will speed up," he said.
Overall, the decrease in redundancies alone "is huge" for the Army's contracting enterprise, he emphasized. However, Hazlett also stressed the impact of the current continuing resolution as the Army is forced to compete for limited resources.
"We need to fund these capabilities," he added. "A small investment into fielding an enterprise Army Contract Writing System will pay dividends as we continue efforts to standardize and streamline our processes; establish consistent levels of service with customers; and reform the Army's end-to-end procurement process.