One of the areas of focus for Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Security Assistance Management Division is providing more than a capability to international partners worldwide. This is done through a deliberate emphasis on improving processes and procedures, and asking the hard questions to help implement positive change within the security assistance enterprise. This includes standardizing and simplifying processes to gain efficiencies, enable audit compliance, provide transparency, exceed metrics and ultimately provide superior customer support that is proactive rather than reactive.
To be successful at providing premiere military and readiness solutions to execute requirements on time and within budget, the SAMD focused on understanding responsibilities, roles, and best practices with internal and external organizations. Under new leadership, it was evident to the SAMD that a professional and strong relationship with Army Contracting Command-Detroit Arsenal was key to providing superlative customer service, strengthening alliances and facilitating common interests.
The ACC-DTA and TACOM SAMD teams have continued to collaborate over the past two years to establish many long-term contracts and streamline the acquisition process for the most requested items.
The use of long-term contracts that have a three or five-year term establishes known pricing for each ordering year and allows for more accurate budgetary estimates during the Letter of Offer and Acceptance (also known as the foreign military sales case) writing process.
The many items available on long-term contracts also provide fleet stability for the requesting countries for the duration of the contracts. For countries that do not request a sole source designation for inclusion in the FMS case, each requirement is competed and that could result in a mixed fleet and increased training and maintenance costs due to utilizing various vehicle platforms.
The challenge during the acquisition planning phase starts with accurate forecasting of demand. SAMD doesn’t have appropriated fiscal year funding or the ability to accurately forecast future demand. As such, the SAMD and ACC-DTA teams collaborate to analyze historical order data and trends prior to release of the solicitation.
The team also collaborates to prepare vehicle or equipment specifications that will provide the greatest functionality and be able to be widely used by as many of the foreign military sales customers as possible. Extensive market research is done prior to the release of the solicitation to make sure that the specifications are accurate, appropriate and promote competition among industry partners.
The teams have also increased the use of the GSA schedule to compete the more specialized requirements in less time. The vendors on the GSA schedules have history of providing goods or services to the government, and the solicitations may be open for a period less than 30 days. Requests for information are released through the GSA system to alert vendors on the applicable schedules notice of the upcoming procurement. The published schedule item pricing also assists in preliminary budget estimates during the case generation process.
Currently, long-term contracts exist for Medium Tactical Vehicles, specifically General Troop Transport Trucks and Vehicle Recovery Trucks; and Heavy Duty Vehicles, specifically Water Tank Trucks, Fuel Tank Trucks, Flatbed trucks, and personnel carriers. There is a long-term contract that is used for various configurations of Toyota pickup trucks, Jeep J8 vehicles, General Mechanics Toolkits and Vehicle Recovery Kits. These two teams also recently established two additional long-term contracts for multiple weapons, such as M16A4 rifles and M203A2 Grenade Launchers.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the number of cases being implemented worldwide, the Procurement Administrative Lead Time has reduced from 93 days to 48 days largely in part to the availability of so many long-term contracts. The reduced PALT has resulted in an increase in customer Required Delivery Dates being met more often over the past 18 months. SAMD and ACC-DTA coordinated and worked extremely hard to obligate $224,597,529 on 236 total actions for fiscal 2020.
As we continue to build our acquisition relationship, we have streamlined processes, provided cost savings to our FMS customers, and increased the skill-set of the workforce by providing additional FMS and acquisition experiences. Both organizations look forward to conquering future acquisition challenges together while building partner capacity, strengthening alliances and delivering readiness worldwide.
Editor’s note: Gloria Harper works for Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Security Assistance Management Directorate, based in Warren, Michigan. Jennifer Meyer works for Army Contracting Command-Detroit Arsenal.