Contracting center honored with three SAAEC awards

By Liz GlennDecember 14, 2021

1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois - Two teams and an individual from Army Contracting Command-Rock Island (ACC-RI) were honored with 2021 Secretary of the Army Awards for Excellence in Contracting, Dec. 14.

Honored during the virtual ceremony were ACC-RI’s Operation Expanded Testing Team with the Outstanding Unit/Team, Specialized Services and Construction Contracting Award; the Cloud Account Management Optimization (CAMO) Team for the Innovation in Contracting Strategies Award; and Elizabeth Zaharopoulos for the Outstanding Contracting Officer, Installation Level.

ACC-RI’s Operation Expanded Testing Team was honored for its support of the White House initiative to leverage untapped COVID-19 testing capabilities for K-8 graders and underserved populations such as homeless shelters. Members of the team were Amber Caulkins, director, Field Support Directorate (FSD); Jeffrey Decker, branch chief, FSD; Trisha Mariman, contracting officer; contract specialists Maj. Jeffrey Bess, Ann Bonis, and Christopher Fields; cost /price analysts Julie Kratt and Pamela Moritz; Amy Knutson, procurement analyst; and Andrew Telschow, attorney/advisor.

The team worked with Joint Project Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Medical (JPEO CBRN Medical) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), collaborating to evolve a loosely defined requirement into a detailed description of services and acquisition approach.

Through this process, they developed the structure of four regionalized coordination centers to partner with laboratories to conduct up to 25 million tests each month. The ACC-RI team led an industry day with over 245 participating vendors, responded to over 500 questions, and improved the strategy based on the feedback. Shortly thereafter, the team evaluated over 100 white papers from industry partners indicating interest and capabilities and sent invitations for a final proposal to 26 companies.

Given the high visibility, ACC-RI was charged with award in less than 100 days, despite only having a conceptual strategy with many specifics unknown. The Operation ET team explored a multitude of potential approaches to meet the requirement, consulted subject matter experts, and determined the use of an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) as the most appropriate. The team had limited or no OTA experience, but utilized available resources to establish agreements that were expeditious and in the best interest of the Government.

The CAMO Team, comprised of Stephanie Wilson, agreements officer, and Jason Caulkins, agreements specialist, employed innovative thinking in awarding the CAMO agreement, an OTA, in March 2021. This $330 million agreement on behalf of their customer, Enterprise Cloud Management Agency (ECMA), will have a wide-reaching, culturally changing impact on the Army’s procedures for commercial cloud usage.

Competing this requirement as an OTA allowed industry partners to assist the government in determining how to properly support compute and store needs without experiencing operational gaps. For decades, Army Cloud purchasing has focused on specific programmatic requirements of individual customers, with no consideration for the aggregate usage of the Army.

The CAMO team implemented an innovative prototype that changes the way the Army purchases cloud from an estimation-based model to a consumption-based model. Execution of CAMO strengthens the Army enterprise by reforming historical purchasing methods to reap the benefits of purchasing enterprise-wide, which includes net effective discounts of up to 30% off commercial pricing.

Discounted pricing is only one benefit; others are efficiency in purchasing cloud via a streamlined process that is able to onboard new customers’ compute and store needs in a matter of a couple weeks, as well as the ability for the Army to collect data to understand its cloud purchasing as an enterprise. As of the end of FY21, the team successfully on boarded more than 30 different customers to the OTA to support their immediate and vital compute and store needs, and enhancing the Army mission.

Zaharopoulos, a contracting officer promoted to branch chief in FY21, supports the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command (JMC) by providing contracting support to Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA). During the nomination period, Zaharopoulos led a team of five contract specialists who executed 141 actions, obligating $17.4 million.

One major effort she led in FY21 was a time sensitive roof repair requirement at PBA. Zaharopoulos worked with the customer to conduct extensive market research to identify the best acquisition strategy, which resulted in a determination to pursue a 100% small business set aside action. This determination resulted in adequate competition, a qualified contractor and 40% savings from the Independent Government Cost Estimate with an award made in only 81 days, 24 days less than the Procurement Action Lead Time.

Additionally, she awarded a requirement to replace natural gas lines and gauges on PBA, in which she utilized a 100% small business set aside, two-step sealed bidding approach with technical evaluation in step one and price evaluation in step two. This approach resulted in adequate competition with a $3.3 million award, fulfilling one of PBA’s top FY21 priorities and ensured timely obligation of expiring funds.

She also supported PBA’s goal of project closeout, developing a de-obligation and closeout training program for her team to ensure all team members were equipped to pursue the backlog of de-obligations and closeouts on PBA contracts.

Jay Carr, ACC-RI executive director, said the awards are a testament to the center’s capability and thanked the award recipients for their well-deserved recognition.

“I whole-heartedly congratulate ACC-RI’s award winners and am proud of the support they provide to our customers,” said Carr. “Their hard work is providing the Army and the nation at large, vital, timely and fiscally responsible solutions to their needs.”