ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois (Aug. 4, 2023) – A team from Army Contracting Command – Rock Island’s Munitions and Industrial Base Directorate have been instrumental in providing support to Scranton Army Ammunition Plant, which has been producing ammunition to support Ukraine.
Over the course of the conflict the U.S. has been sending a significant amount of 155 mm ammunition to Ukraine, which in turn has brought a lot of funding back to the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant program to improve the facilities, including the purchase of equipment to support the metal parts production of the ammunition.
“At Rock Island, we have the production base support and the facilities portion of the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant program, and Army Contracting Command – New Jersey has the contract for production of the metal parts,” said Anna Whitcomb, contracting officer. “Our contracts deal with more of the facilities, the equipment and the production lines supporting the overall production of the parts.”
Whitcomb stated that the requirement is a base Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract awarded in 2019, with initial performance for 10 years through 2029; however, the contract has now been extended through 2034 with another five-year option period after that.
Noel Costello, contract specialist, stated that a majority of the projects are split between repairs and modernization of the facility that supports the production of the 155 mm projectile metal parts, with the remainder focusing on increasing production-line capacity to enable greater throughput under the ACC-NJ contract.
Throughout ACC-RI, and other areas within the Army Contracting Command, Whitcomb’s team was one of the first teams to get a Determination and Findings approved using temporary authorities for Ukraine-covered actions for the overall Scranton Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract increase.
“In addition to the approval to increase the ceiling of the production contract under the 1244 temporary authorities, which is the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, we also received approval to utilize the temporary authority under the Head of Contracting Activity to waive limitations for the undefinitized contract actions with regard to funding and the definitization schedule,” said Whitcomb. “We are doing undefinitized contract actions for most of these requirements, because they are so urgent and we don’t have time to negotiate them. Since we are awarding these types of actions left and right, the waiver, with (ACC Commanding General) Brig. Gen. (Christine) Beeler’s approval, will allow us to obligate more of the limited funding to further support that urgency to increase capacity.”
Costello explained that the government’s requirement of having the contractor increase production has had some workload impact on the contractor’s staff, but the contractor’s technical team is hiring additional personnel to address the mission.
“They have made some personnel changes, and so far we have been seeing a good amount of responsiveness from their contracting team,” said Costello.
Whitcomb explained that with the number of proposals containing a significant amount of labor hours, projects expanding for multiple years, and escalation and/or inflation, the team is running into challenges negotiating with the contractor and getting them to commit to a firm fixed price. In addition, both the government and contractor are keeping tabs on what inflation is going to do to the labor pool, as resources don’t want to be lost in response to these multi-year expansions.
Whitcomb believes that the most notable aspect of their support is that all of the undefinitized contract actions that have been awarded and documents that are routed have used unprecedented contracting methods that they are executing on a daily basis.
“It goes hand in hand with the media coverage saying that great things are coming out of Scranton Army Ammunition Plant,” said Whitcomb. “A lot of the nation’s future capability and the other aspects of Scranton’s support that they are reporting on is because of our accomplishments on this contract,” said Whitcomb.
Costello believes that they have a very collaborative team in contracting, as well as the customer side with requirements.
“There is enough ongoing communication of priorities, reprioritization and exchange of information regarding funding and the building of contracting cabinets, so that the contracting team has the ability to expedite things much easier,” said Costello. “We are getting the support we need in order to work at a faster pace to support the Army’s needs.”