902nd CBN Soldiers leverage virtual platform to award contract
Staff Sgt. Natalie Johnson receives virtual guidance from Staff Sgt. Jeffery Modlin over the Microsoft Teams platform on the proper steps of building a contract award in the Standard Procurement System Procurement Desktop-Defense, or PD2, acquisition management system. Both are contract specialists with the 902nd Contracting Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. (Photo Credit: Maj. Jacob Austin) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington (Jan. 26, 2021) – Acquisition professionals at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, recently leveraged a virtual training opportunity to award a contract providing virtual 360 Leadership Resiliency training to fulfill one of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps commanding general’s initiatives as part of his leader professional development program.

Members of 902nd Contracting Battalion’s 615th Contracting Team awarded the contract to a woman-owned, disabled-veteran small business in support of leadership training for approximately 50 service members and their spouses over a 10-day period.

Battalion leaders said this training event demonstrated the success of both the contracting team and supported unit during a virtual environment. Both parties adapted to their environment and accomplished their mission. The contracting team was able to issue an award correctly and on time, while the requiring activity received quality and effective training on Microsoft Teams.

“It was an honor and a privilege to assist with awarding this contract. To see firsthand that the I Corps commanding general continues to invest in world class leadership training for not only I Corps personnel but also their spouses is tip-of-the-spear Army leadership,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Modlin, a contract specialist with the 902nd CBN. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the commanding general is still committed to professionally developing Soldiers and their families, and that is great leadership.”

Modlin was assigned the challenge of guiding and mentoring newly assessed acquisitions professional Staff Sgt. Natalie Johnson, the contract specialist for this requirement, in a completely virtual environment.

“The virtual environment presented some challenging hurdles,” Modlin said. “The biggest hurdle faced was re-introducing Standard Procurement System (SPS) Procurement Desktop-Defense (PD2), a contract writing system database used by acquisitions professionals. Due to COVID-19, Staff Sgt. Johnson was restricted from permanent change of station to JBLM for around three months after she graduated from the Army Acquisitions Professional Course, preventing her from continued learning in the contracting field.”

Modlin overcame this challenge by using Microsoft Teams to conduct virtual face-to-face training and using the screen share option to allow Johnson to complete step-by-step procedures through shadowing and coaching.

“Conducting a permanent change of station to a new unit is a challenge within itself; add being brand new to the acquisitions workforce and COVID-19 makes it a huge challenge and very stressful. On top of all that, trying to learn my new job virtually using Microsoft Teams and email is extremely difficult,” Johnson said. “This being my first contract, it was exciting learning the process with the support of Staff Sgt. Modlin. He was very patient, thorough and knowledgeable every step of the way. I am fortunate to have a team that cares and selflessly coaches me to ensure I get better each day. I find it very ironic and fitting that my first contract action was for virtual leadership training all the while my team is virtually leading me.”

The team within I Corps developing the requirement had minimal experience with the acquisition process. The 615th CT worked diligently with the organization during requirements generation and requirements package finalization to streamline the process. The contracting team’s constant communication with its mission partner coupled with efficient review of all documentation resulted in purchase order issued prior to the mission partner need date, which allowed the contractor ample time to pre-position class material prior to the start date.

Course professionals providing instruction included a licensed psychologist, certified yoga instructor, licensed physical therapist, certified financial counselor, experienced spiritual counselor, certified hypnotherapist, and an experienced military leader. The contract scope of the virtual training called for comprehensive knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines including health, fitness, resiliency, and prevention courses that are geared toward leaders with combat exposure to enable them to deal with both personal and leadership challenges through arming them with a diverse set of tools to respond to various situations.

The virtual training, though demanding for the Soldiers and their spouses, enabled participants multiple avenues to improve their relationships with their family members, their superiors, peers and civilian workforce.

About the MICC

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-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. As part of its mission, 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.