By Jessica Harper, U.S. ArmyDecember 21, 2011
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 21, 2011) -- Army leaders at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., hosted an advance planning briefing for industry, or ABPI, and small business conference to inform industry and business leaders of new opportunities to demonstrate their technologies for potential military use.
At a panel during the event, Chuck Pizzutelli, assistant Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T, discussed specific steps the PEO C3T Technical Industrial Liaison Office is taking to contribute to this effort.
The semi-annual Network Integration Evaluation, NIE, which is part of the agile acquisition process that relies on Soldier feedback to rapidly incorporate new technologies into the Army portfolio, is emerging as one of the most effective processes for introducing new products to PEO C3T, Pizzutelli said.
"[We pay attention] whenever thumbs get raised or when (Soldiers) see a nice toy or capability out there -- that's the way we're looking for new products," Pizzutelli told the audience. "So, if you're looking to market things to us, I urge you to play on that."
Pizzutelli acknowledged the resources required for businesses to try out products in the NIE environment at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., but stressed that the Army will work with businesses of all sizes that demonstrate mature network solutions. Part of the NIE cycle and agile process involves first testing products in the laboratory environment at Aberdeen Proving Ground, known as APG.
This ensures that they are properly integrated into the network before being placed in Soldiers' hands, and that industry receives a thorough report on system performance, he said.
Pizzutelli joined hundreds of Army officials and trade leaders from companies ranging from large defense contractors to small businesses at the ABPI conference held earlier this month.
Kashia Simmons, public affairs officer for the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, said this event helped explain to industry the mission of each Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, known as C4ISR, organization at APG, and how they work together on different programs and initiatives.
"Our industry partners are key to how well we are able to equip the Soldier," he said. "And if they don't know what we're doing, they can't appropriately help us get these capabilities into the hands of the Soldiers."
Teamwork within the C4ISR community, Simmons said, becomes essential.
"The opportunity to talk about how all those relationships cut across lines is really important," he said. "So, folks who have particular capabilities can see how they fit into our community from the research and development, sustainment and also from the program management perspective."
Direct contact with customers, Simmons said, solidifies CERDEC's ability to serve them.
"What better opportunity to learn what people need and want to know about our organization than to sit and speak to our customers and partners one-on-one and hear their questions," he said.
Business leaders from multiple states crowded into the conference hall to make new contacts and learn better ways to pool their resources with C4ISR organizations. Richard Usmiller, vice president of Human Capital for Savantage Solutions, was one of them.
With offices at Fort Belvoir, Va., Savantage Solutions is a software company that supplies Commercial-Off-The-Shelf, or COTS, products to federal agencies. Usmiller came to the C4ISR conference looking for ways to fuse Savantage's resources with C4ISR's.
The key for most of the attendees, Usmiller said, is the timeline. Receiving thorough and up-to-date information from the Army is essential to being able to compete, he said.
"Especially for small companies who are resource-limited," he said. "The key is anticipating and being able to bid on opportunities down the road."
For PEO C3T, the Technical Industrial Liaison Office is serving as the single point of entry for new vendors interested in partnering with the organization. The office's mission is to maintain a repository of vendor data and to maintain an updated journal of vendor dispositions to prevent redundant proposals.
During the panel, Pizzutelli discussed how PEO C3T is merging competitor outreach with the organization's long-standing goal of developing, fielding and supporting networked mission command solutions to enhance combat effectiveness.
Aside from the NIE, Pizzutelli highlighted several outreach opportunities being spearheaded by the Technical Industrial Liaison Office to support fielding and sustainment efforts on the battlefield. More information about these opportunities can be found at the Fed Biz Ops public website at https://www.fbo.gov.