ACC-RI's new base operations contract keeps arsenal running

By Elizabeth UrbaniakMarch 23, 2022

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Members of the Munitions and Industrial Base Directorate recently accomplished a major feat, awarding and overseeing the successful transition of the Rock Island Arsenal Base Operations Support Services (RIA BOSS) to a new contractor in support of the United States Army Garrison – Rock Island Arsenal (USAG-RIA) for the first time in almost 25 years. The RIA BOSS contract supports the USAG-RIA in its mission to provide quality facilities and base operation support services to all installation tenants. These services enable the Rock Island Arsenal to operate successfully and complete its critical mission in providing logistical and manufacturing support to the warfighter worldwide.

Rock Island Integrated Service (RIIS), a large business, has provided the RIA Base Operations Services since August 1997 with minimal changes to the scope of work throughout the years. The last competition took place in 2012 and since this time, contract specialist Julie Culliton said the team started working with their customer, the USAG-RIA, to create a performance work statement (PWS) that would in turn become a standardized template to be utilized throughout all garrisons. Throughout this process, a significant amount of time was spent incorporating changes and revising procedures. Installation Management Command (IMCOM) approved the standardized PWS and in 2019, Army Contracting Command – Rock Island (ACC-RI) received a fully executable package. While initially time-consuming to develop the standardized PWS, this will help streamline future actions at both RIA and other garrisons, allowing the Army to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Jaclyn Senneff, branch chief, said that from a top level, the big thing to know is that this service has been several years in the making. In addition to working closely with the customer to complete the standardized PWS, Senneff noted that “another challenge is that RIA is pretty unique as far as garrisons [are concerned] because we are on an island.” Part of this uniqueness is not only the presence of the government gridge, but that it contains a swing section that can rotate 360 degrees for river traffic, versus the typical 90 degrees. Additionally, RIA has its own hydroelectric plant and dam, sourced by the Mississippi River.

While the PWS was being developed, Molly Lewis, contracting officer, and Culliton also conducted extensive market research to determine the best procurement strategy for a new acquisition, which indicated multiple 8(a) companies capable of performing this requirement. Based on this, an acquisition strategy was prepared and approved, setting the new requirement aside for 8(a) firms, affording small disadvantaged businesses the opportunity to compete for the contract. The market research was successful and resulted in good competition among 8(a) companies. The new contract was awarded to KIRA Training Services LLC., an Alaskan Native 8(a) corporation.

The total current value of the new Rock Island Arsenal BOSS contract is $58 million and is a hybrid of firm fixed price and time & materials contract.

Culliton says that there was significant cost savings in being able to compete this contract amongst 8(a) businesses.

“This contract was awarded at a lower dollar value than in the past,” said Culliton. Kathy Ward, contracting officer, said the requirement resulted in very good competition that reduced the price, and that the conversion to fixed price will result in additional savings.

One of the more significant changes in this new contract was changing the contract type for unscheduled services referred to as demand maintenance orders (DMOs) and operational work orders (OWOs) to firm fixed price (FFP). DMOs and OWOs are unscheduled services valued at $2500 or less for small-scale repair work on government owned or leased facilities and equipment. In the past, these have been cost-reimbursable. In order to make these FFP, the solicitation included ranges based on historical information where the offerors submitted a FFP for each range. At the time of award, the government chooses the FFP range for that period of performance based upon the estimated number of work or maintenance orders.

“Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, ACC-RI, Joint Munitions Command, and all tenants on the island have their own DMOs,” said Culliton. “Those are executed as time and materials, because we could not ask the customers to commit to the ranges established by Department of Public Works (DPW) and accurately estimate the extent or duration of the work or anticipate the cost within any reasonable degree of certainty from customer to customer.”

The extensive market research conducted, the standardized PWS, and the changes made to the unscheduled services resulted in excellent competition with a significant savings to the government.

“Our main challenges were during the solicitation period,” said Culliton. “It was necessary to conduct an island wide site visit in order for the contractors to visit the various locations that are incorporated into the PWS and have the opportunity to ask questions. In the past, the site visit was conducted with a bus driving the contractors to the various locations and DPW was able to address them as one large group. Due to COVID-19, it was not possible to conduct the site visit in this manner.”

Through a collaborative effort with the USAG-RIA DPW, a plan was developed to keep all participants safe while still allowing them to see everything necessary to ensure they had a good understanding of the requirement. Multiple subject matter experts from DPW were located at the various sites on RIA in order to give the history and functionality of that location. Contractors were limited to two people per company and divided into very small groups. A rotating walking tour schedule was provided to each contractor to organize the time they would be visiting each location. This schedule could not be deviated from and social distancing and masks were required the entire day. The turnout was quite good and the day was successful.

Ward and Culliton both said that overall they had no major issues and the transition from RIIS to KIRA, which began in October 2021, went very well.

“We successfully transitioned to a new contractor after 20 plus years without any major hiccups,” said Senneff. “That’s definitely a huge feat to turn over all the maintenance and operation of a government installation to a brand new contractor in just 60 days. After all these years, that’s definitely something to be proud of and speaks to how well Julie and Kathy coordinated everything with the customer and contractor to predict potential issues and work to mitigate them.”

“Headquarters for the Army Sustainment Command, JMC and First Army provide critical support to the Warfighter throughout the world,” said Culliton. “If these services were not performed, their command capability would be significantly impacted as well as any lost production from JMTC.”

Culliton went on to say that if these services were not able to be provided, it would result in the shutdown of the RIA and its critical mission to the war fighter worldwide would not be completed.

Ward said the impact of this requirement is that it keeps Rock Island Arsenal functioning. The success of this contract is a team effort with KIRA, USAG-RIA, and ACC-RI. Rock Island Arsenal is a beautiful place thanks to everyone’s hard work. People don’t see what goes on behind this contract with DPW and the Garrison, but its ability to provide the Arsenal with the capability to function is a huge success story.

“[The RIA BOSS contract] makes the Rock Island Arsenal run,” said Ward. “Without it, this wouldn’t work.”