By Mr. David McNally (RDECOM)June 17, 2010
BEL AIR, Md. -- The Army's scientific and engineering community showcased research and development contract opportunities during a two-day event June 16-17 at Harford Community College.
"The showcase presentations will provide you with information about the many exciting changes and related opportunities coming to or available at Aberdeen Proving Ground," Harford Community College President Dr. James LaCalle told about 500 attendees during opening remarks."
Many private companies interested in tech transfer, collaborative projects and government contracts participated in the event with displays and demonstrations.
Organizers targeted entrepreneurs, independent and academic researchers, inventors and current or potential contractors.
During one presentation, Contract Business Manager Gregory Davies, Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, explained trends in the government acquisition process.
Davies said recent legislation is making a big impact. The 2007 Gansler Report urged Congress to take urgent action, he said.
"There have been a lot of audits and reviews of the acquisition process over the past 20 years, but the Gansler Report really hit home," Davies said. "It's the first time I can remember in my career where action was taken from the services and congress and the DoD to actually change things in acquisition."
The Gansler Report led to a wave of reforms, he said.
"The good news is it required the hiring of more acquisition professionals," Davies said. "We also moved to value-based procurements. We've got to write performance-based contracts, and you have to deliver."
The message was not lost on the crowd of contractors, many of whom are familiar with the process.
"We've got to manage the process and not let the process manage us," Davies said. "I think that starts with understanding."
Tracey Pinson, Army Small Business director, gave the keynote presentation on day one. She said the Army is a big investor in small business, giving figures from the last fiscal year.
"The Army spent about $104 billion with all U.S. business firms," Pinson said. "Of that amount, $29 billion went to small business, about $11 billion went to small, disadvantaged business, $4 billion to women ... so you can see our goals, our percentages, as they measure up to the national goals."
Pinson said her office is making great strides in ensuring fairness. She made sure all the attendees knew how to contact her, and where to find information.
A panel discussion with a group of prime contractors offered answers to many questions.
After break-out sessions, visitors viewed static displays, information booths, technology demonstrations and listened to presentations on contracting and partnership opportunities in the exhibit hall.
Executive Director to the Commanding General Gary Martin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said the event has grown significantly over the years.
"When we first started out, we had about 250 participants," he said. "This year we expect more than 700 people to attend."
Martin encouraged attendees to get involved in private organizations to build networking opportunities.
The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's communication and electronics center demonstrated a touchscreen display they have been developing with Microsoft.
The Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center develops and integrates C4ISR technologies to enable the Warfighter to sense the battle space
RDECOM's Michael Sullivan works for the CERDEC Command and Control Directorate. He showed the COMET's capabilities to visitors.
"It's a multi-touch, multi-user interface to allow Soldiers to collaborate on mission planning, ops, and intel," Sullivan said. "This is all R&D;."
Visitors gave positive feedback during the demonstration, Sullivan said.
Harford Community College has been a supporter and host of the event for three years. Martin recognized the college leadership for their untiring support.
"Dr. LaCalle is about to retire, and we will miss him," Martin said. "His work on the showcase has demonstrated the Harford Community College's commitment to the community."
College officials said they are actively responding to "regional workforce changes and academic needs."
"Developing an ample, well-educated STEM workforce support excellence in science and technology innovation," wrote LaCalle in a welcome letter to participants. "Providing quality, affordable access to this education is an important part of the mission of Harford Community College."
Organizers said slide presentations from the showcase will be available after June 22 from the Harford Community College Web site.