Job order contracts have been around since the 1980s and the Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) and predecessor organizations have used them successfully through the years.
Job Order Contracts were conceived by Army engineer Lt. Col. Harry Mellon while he was on active duty as the Chief Engineer at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in 1982. He was faced with meeting the needs of 54 generals who wanted their deteriorating buildings fixed. Mellon adapted the concept to fit U.S. contracting procedures and regulations.
He introduced the JOC vehicle to the Army in 1985, at which time the USACE Middle East/Africa Project Office (MEAPO), a precursor organization to the Transatlantic Middle East District, was asked to provide technical documents for the first five JOC test installations based on extensive experience with the Computer Aided Cost Estimating System which MEAPO had developed for its Saudi Arabian program.
Three volumes of technical documents – Technical Specifications, a Unit Price Book for Advertisement and a Unit Price Book for Government Use – were developed by MEAPO. Additionally, several MEAPO team members served on several planning committees during the development of JOC.
In 1987, MEAPO’s JOC project manager, the late Marion Davidson, said that the JOC test concept was “drawing rave reviews because JOC provides the best means of maintaining bases using modern techniques. It properly uses government procurement regulations to their best advantage; and it delegates the authority to contract to the lowest level – the field installation is able to be in charge of its own destiny. I am tremendously optimistic about the future of JOC.”
The JOC test ran from 1985 to 1989 when the Assistant Secretary of the Army approved the JOC program for general use by the Army. The Navy and Air Force copied the Army’s program and developed their own.
The Army awarded their first JOC contract in 1989 and the Transatlantic Program Center, the organization that evolved from MEAPO and another USACE organization in direct succession to the Transatlantic Middle East District, awarded their first JOC in 1998 – and that was for work to be performed for our mission partners in Kuwait at Camp Doha for the U.S. Army Central in Kuwait and at Al Jaber and Al Salem air bases for the U.S. Air Force Central.
TAM has a long successful history with Job Order Contracts in Kuwait and just recently, April 30, awarded an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Job Order Contracting (JOC) Single Award Task Order Contract (SATOC) for the District’s Kuwait program.
The JOC was awarded April 30 to MVL USA Inc., of Lansing Michigan, for the base year plus four options years with a maximum capacity of $75,000,000. Work can be performed at, but is not limited to, Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base, Camp Buehring, Al Jaber Air Base, Camp Patriot, Udari Range, Kuwait Naval Base.
“JOC is a contract vehicle that provides an alternative method to fulfill requirements for sustainment, restoration, and modernization projects at the installation, post, camp or station level. It can be for projects with an estimated value of more than $2000, but less than $2 million,” said Capt. Colin Sexton, project manager.
“This is an important contract for our Kuwait program,” said Joseph L. Zaraszczak, chief, Project Management Branch A, Programs and Project Management Division.
“The JOC is an important contract for the program because it gives our mission partners in Kuwait the ability to rapidly identify, develop, and execute a project in conjunction with our USACE staff to meet their requirements,” said Sexton. “Routinely it can take anywhere from four to six months for a project to be identified and developed into something that can be advertised to industry for competitive bidding. The bidding period for a project alone can take another three to four months. So by the time you see shovels entering the dirt, a minimum of one half to a full year has gone by. The JOC reduces that time to as short as 45 – 60 days in many cases. TAM’s ability to leverage the JOC to be responsive to mission partners’ immediate needs like that is wonderful.
“Right now, I would venture to say that of all the active construction projects that fall under the Kuwait Program, almost half of them are a JOC task orders or have utilized a JOC task order to deliver a portion of the overall project scope,” Sexton said.
How JOC works
These contracts are awarded to one contractor and then individual projects are negotiated with the single JOC contractor.
“Projects are identified by our mission partners,” said Sexton. “They will bring a specific project to USACE and USACE will review it to determine what the appropriate acquisition vehicle is that would meet our partner’s needs. If the JOC is chosen by USACE, the mission partner will provide funding to cover all pre-award labor.”
The next step is a site visit and joint project scoping with the mission partner and then the USACE JOC Team will provide a Current Working Estimate (CWE) and statement of work to the requesting mission partner for their internal review and approval requirements.
Then USACE will issues a solicitation to the JOC contractor, who will prepare a cost estimate proposal and demonstrate understanding of the scope of work. USACE will review the proposal and negotiate cost and period of performance. The JOC contractor will provide the final cost proposal, USACE requests JOC task order contract value from mission partner. Once provided, the task order is awarded to the contractor.
“The negotiating and pricing of the Task Order is simplified because the JOC uses a Unit Price Book (UPB),” said Sexton. “Since the USACE is using the same UPB when building out the CWE with the Mission Partner when it comes to negotiations, the comparison is really all about what line items did each party select and the quantity of each. Negotiations therefore can occur quickly and without dramatic flair.”
Since Sexton joined Team TAM in August 2018, he’s seen the JOC used to award more than 25 task orders, “the majority of which I have had the pleasure of being personally involved in in some manner.”
“Successes with the JOC have varied in both the cost magnitude of a task order and also the importance of the project to our mission partners,” Sexton said. “For instance, in August 2019, we awarded a task order at Kuwait Naval Base to renovate nine buildings that have gone into disrepair due to coastal winds and the harsh desert environment. The total value of that project is 1.5 million dollars. That project is an example of how rapidly USACE was able to respond to our partner’s need. At the time in which USACE was given the project funds to execute the work, USACE was able to conduct all of the above mentioned steps and award the project in a fraction of the time expected.
“A few other examples would be the renovation of the Command Suite for the Area Support Group – Kuwait Commander and the flag poles sitting outside the 401ST Army Field Sustainment Brigade Headquarters. Both of those projects were of high importance to our partners and TAM met their needs fully,” Sexton said.
“A final example of a JOC success is repair of an electrical power substation at Camp Arifjan. The substation was damaged in a flood that occurred in November 2018. The Directorate of Public Works at Camp Arifjan was working through ways to get their critical infrastructure fixed and turned to TAM for use of the JOC,” Sexton said. “The JOC once again is meeting their needs as repairs are currently on-going even during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Although convenient and minimal risk to the government, JOCs cannot be used for all potential projects. For instance, JOCs cannot be used for architect/engineer requirements, design build, interactive design specifications, services contract, janitorial, landscaping, pest control, or for recurring work or maintenance. It also cannot be used for projects less than $2000.
“Services that are usually performed via task orders under the JOC can range anywhere from renovating a kitchen or office space to building out entire structures with all the life, health, and safety features one would expect,” he said.