FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, June 6, 2011 -- Small businesses are benefiting from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command’s decision to set acquisition aside for exclusive competition for service contracts in support of two of this nation’s national cemeteries.Performance for most of the 16 contracts valued at $32 million began at the Arlington National Cemetery and U.S. Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in April by contractors representing the small business community.Management of service contracts for the cemetery was assumed by MICC officials at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, last summer. In the months that followed, an exhaustive review and rewrite of performance work statements led to the consolidation of many of the service requirements being provided by 28 separate contracts.After new performance work statements were completed, officials from the Headquarters MICC, MICC Office of Small Business Programs, the MICC Mission Contracting Center-Fort Belvoir in Virginia and Arlington National Cemetery assessed whether the scope of performance for each contract qualified for small business sourcing.“We have a regulatory requirement to determine if contracts fit the small business program,” said Andrea Armstrong, the contract support liaison temporarily assigned to Arlington National Cemetery from the MICC MCC-Fort Hood, Texas. "Once we decided they do fit, we set it aside for small business to perform at a reasonable cost."The next step was to conduct the necessary research, which required a team approach from MICC personnel.“Because of the number of small businesses in this area and the need for detailed market research, it was imperative to team with someone who possessed the expertise to lead you to qualified small businesses,” said Clay Cole, the MICC MCC-Fort Belvoir director.Officials from MICC Headquarters and MICC MCC-Fort Belvoir conducted an Industry Day for Arlington National Cemetery in January to determine if there would be adequate competition from qualified small business contractors to set the requirements aside.“The Industry Day provided contractors an opportunity to ask questions and provide the government feedback on the requirement. It was invaluable in determining the capabilities of contractors,” said Sandra Spiess, the MICC Small Business Programs associate director.The MICC Office of Small Business Programs is an advocacy organization committed to maximizing procurement opportunities for all small business socioeconomic categories and minority-serving education institutions in support of Soldiers, according to Spiess. In fiscal year 2010, contract obligations to small business awarded by MICC installation contracting offices totaled more than $3.3 billion.Command officials said the Army small business program helps to strengthen the economy, generates competition, and provides more jobs to the small business community than any other sector. They added contracts for Arlington National Cemetery were awarded competitively allowing several small businesses to compete for the opportunities while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.Service contracts for Arlington National Cemetery include turf and grounds maintenance, concrete graveliner installation, landscape and gardening, headstone placement and alignment, elevator and automatic door maintenance, tree and shrub trimming, uniform lease, burial, pest control, custodial services, public safety aides, and heating and air conditioning service.MICC officials are responsible for planning, integrating, awarding and administering contracts in support of Army commands, direct reporting units, U.S. Army North and other organizations to provide the best value for the mission, Soldiers and their families.