A rigorous validation of contracting requirements

By John Neal and Cindi DiSimoneAugust 4, 2021

A rigorous validation of contracting requirements
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The Command Service Office (CSO) within the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) operates a rigorous review board as the centerpiece of its contract requirements validation process, managing a contract portfolio of over $1.2 billion annually.

CSO ensures INSCOM resources are properly aligned with its mission by overseeing the contract process and various acquisition support services for INSCOM and its 17 major subordinate commands worldwide.

INSCOM organizations that identify a need for contract support, submit their requirements through the command’s Recon portal. Required documentation includes a thorough description of the requirement, a commander’s endorsement memo, and an Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE). Units that need assistance in preparing this documentation can obtain help through INSCOM’s CSO.

Units are encouraged to submit requirements for validation regardless of their funding status. If funding has not been identified, requirements can be validated and approved subject to the availability of funds. This allows units to seek funds for an approved requirement or to submit an unfunded requirement to resource management. Requirement approval, however, does not guarantee that an initiative will be funded.

“A requirement that has already passed through our validation process stands a much better chance to compete for Headquarters, Department of the Army resourcing than an undocumented concept,” said George Mancini, INSCOM deputy resource manager.

CSO reviews requirement packages received through Recon to ensure their completeness and resolves any questions in the package with the unit. All actions are then forwarded within Recon for staff-level review by the human resources (G-1), security (G-2), operations (G-3), logistics (G-4), IT (G-6), resource management (G-8), and legal staffs.

Erica Blanch, CSO program manager, likes how the Recon portal tracks everything in the process.

“The staff gets five duty days to review and decide on a requirement,” said Blanch. “The portal makes it easy to see who has completed their review and what questions they may have.”

If a requirement is estimated to cost more than $500,000 per year, it must also be presented orally before the formal INSCOM Requirements Review Board (IRRB). The IRRB meets weekly to review requirements presented by the units and is comprised of leaders from each of the staff elements.

The staff reviews are rigorous, with representatives asking probing questions, such as:

·        Who or what document directed the requirement?

·        How does it align with current command priorities?

·        How were the requirement’s size and scope developed?

·        What other options were considered to meet the need?

·        How will you provide effective oversight for the contract?

·        What acquisition strategy is anticipated?

·        How do you expect to fund the contract across its lifecycle?

George Sweet, chief, INSCOM G-3 contracts and requirements support office, reminds units of the importance of the process and the level of detail required.

“You just have to know your requirement inside and out before you get to the IRRB,” said Sweet. “If you haven’t worked it all through, that will become apparent very quickly.”

The IRRB attracts a wide audience each week. Staff and unit representatives attend the IRRB to maintain awareness of emerging requirements across the command. Contracting officers from Army Contracting Command – Detroit Arsenal always attend to advise the IRRB on the fine points of acquisition or to propose solutions. Contractor personnel, however, are prohibited from attending due to the nature of the discussions.

Requirements receiving IRRB acceptance are then submitted to INSCOM’s director of support for requirements less than $5 million, or the commanding general for requirements greater than $5 million, for approval. These leaders signify their approval by signing a Request for Service Contract Approval (RSCA). With the RSCA, the documented requirement, the IGCE, and funding, the unit is cleared to work with a contracting officer to fulfill their requirement.

Since its inception in 2013, INSCOM has processed over 5,000 actions through its IRRB process. The IRRB not only validates contract initiatives, but also drives units to submit better, more thoughtful requirements and it gives the command deeper insights into acquisition processes to drive innovation and efficiencies.