JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (May 12, 2020) -- Mission and Installation Contracting Command officials are piloting a process to competitively award a contract for daily services comprised under base operations at Fort Meade, Maryland, aimed at saving costs for the installation and Army.
Representatives from the AbilityOne Commission, Installation Management Command and MICC kicked off the pilot acquisition April 27 with discussions on roles, responsibilities and tentative milestones for a projected contract award in late October.
The AbilityOne Commission is an independent federal agency responsible for providing employment opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the manufacture and delivery of products and services to the federal government through two central nonprofit agencies including the National Industries for the Blind and SourceAmerica.
Additionally, officials with the Fort Meade Directorate of Public Works are working closely with contracting professionals from the MICC Headquarters Contracting Operations Directorate, MICC Field Directorate Office-Fort Sam Houston, and MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The contracting approach was first piloted in fiscal 2019 at Fort Bliss, Texas, the largest installation in the Army boasting more than 1 million acres of land across two states with approximately 6,800 buildings on post.
“In terms of scale, Fort Meade is certainly smaller; however, the approach remains the same,” said Wiley Cox, a procurement analyst with the MICC headquarters leading the initiative. “Regardless of the installation, our goal remains to develop an acquisition process that works well across the enterprise and produces savings upon contract award while meeting the mission. As the second iteration of a pilot competition using AbilityOne procedures, we seek to validate the incredible results achieved at Fort Bliss.”
Cox said the timing of the current contract period of performance at Fort Meade aligned perfectly with availability of the AbilityOne Commission to support another pilot program. He added the co-location of several key stakeholders on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston allows for a more efficient execution of the follow-on contract requirement as part of the MICC’s continuing category management efforts. Applying category management strategies to Army acquisitions allows the government to buy smarter as an enterprise with the elimination of redundancies, increased efficiency and greater value.
“Our partnership with AbilityOne on the Fort Meade base operations pilot is a perfect application of category management, as two agencies leverage processes to maximize buying power to meet the Army's needs,” said Ray Harris, the director of MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office. “Our objective with the pilot is to build a blueprint for consistency and standardized processes as well as streamline the acquisition process.”
The AbilityOne Procurement List identifies supplies and services required by law to be purchased from AbilityOne and its participating nonprofit agencies. The pilot process incorporates Army acquisition experts into the SourceAmerica opportunity notice and capability evaluation process for selecting the nonprofit agency to execute the requirement. Typically, SourceAmerica's evaluative process for selecting the nonprofit agency relies upon its internal evaluation criteria, and price is not evaluated until the nonprofit has been selected. The new approach calls for the submission of bids up front to promote true price competition.
The Fort Bliss pilot program was a result of a 2017 National Defense Authorization Act requirement that established greater oversight and accountability in the AbilityOne contracting process. Stakeholders are applying best practices from the Fort Bliss base operations contract that achieved savings of more than 20% from the previous contract.
“One of the tools that we continue to improve upon is the pricing matrix that captures pre-priced, scalable line items within fixed-price bands that allow the government to issue installation maintenance task orders at varying levels of service based on need and available funding,” Cox explained. “By continuing to fine-tune pricing bands captured within the pricing matrix, the customer and contracting office have expanded capability to remain flexible from year to year while meeting the mission within budgetary parameters. In addition, contract administration has proven to be less arduous with these tools available.”
Andre Johnson, a general engineer serving as the lead for Fort Meade DPW, said the contract requirement encompasses demand and preventative facilities maintenance, grounds maintenance, refuse collection, and snow and ice removal as well as manning a work order desk and other sustainment projects within the performance work statement. The contract performance work statement calls for the support of approximately 5,067 acres and 298 buildings on behalf of an installation population made up of about 56,000 military, government civilian and contractor personnel as well as 11,000 resident family members.
As Maryland’s largest employer, Fort Meade provides a wide range of support to approximately 118 organizations representing four military services and several federal agencies. Major tenants include the National Security Agency, Defense Information School, U.S. Cyber Command, Defense Media Activity, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Science Center. Given the scope and significance of mission partners supported by the contract, an introduction of change in the acquisition process is often accompanied by a sense of skepticism.
“The only apprehension from the Fort Meade team is the tight timeline to put the package together,” Johnson said. “We prefer the competition if there is a bona fide cost savings and we can have more work done for the same cost as our current contract.”
Cox said anytime a mission partner is exposed to this process for the first time, it comes with an understandable degree of apprehension.
“This approach certainly doesn’t represent the norm, but fortunately, we have results at Fort Bliss to draw from and experience working with the AbilityOne Commission and team at SourceAmerica,” Cox said. “Being able to leverage recent, real-world results that yielded $7.2 million in annual savings on the Fort Bliss facilities support operations services contract reassures our mission partners and gives them incentive to buy in to a process that has shown itself to be very successful.”
Following the pilot contract process, the Fort Meade acquisition shifts to the MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office for review and award. Once awarded, the MICC contracting office at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, will assume responsibility for contract administration.
About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.