REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.- Military contracting professionals within the Army Contracting Command are closer to having the means to provide a higher level of reporting and oversight capability with the fielding of its virtual contracting enterprise suite of tools and software.

"One suite of tools, one look and feel for all Army contracting professionals means our Soldiers and civilians will be able to rely on the same set of tools regardless of where or for whom they work - including in an expeditionary environment," said Michael Thompson, chief, Virtual Contracting Enterprise Division within the Contracting Operations Directorate.

"Having to play catch-up on systems adversely impacts our ability to provide mission and contingency operations support to our Soldiers. The Army, Army Materiel Command and ACC need to have everyone on one set of tools and business processes so we can easily shift workload to efficiently and effectively support our customer."

"The VCE was selected by the Army leadership to fix many of the contracting deficiencies identified in the 2007 Gansler Commission report on Army contracting," said Matthew Meinert, VCE Operations and Future Concepts Division, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

"The VCE was established to standardize as much as possible the business and contracting processes across the Army so its contracting professionals would have the necessary tools and processes in place to perform its mission."

According to Meinert and Thompson, the goal of the VCE is to field an Army-wide contracting solution for its contracting professionals and customers. The tools will provide contracting officers, managers and Army leaders reporting and oversight capabilities lacking prior to the 2007 Gansler Commission.

"For the first time, the Army will have complete oversight into its contracting mission, workload, resources, and support to the war fighter," Meinert said. "Having a standardized tool set and business processes will enable the Army to manage workloads more efficiently, ensuring our war fighters are provided the exceptional support they so richly deserve."

The VCE platform relies heavily on information technology but is managed out of the ACC Contracting Operations Business Systems Directorate.

"When the VCE office was originally stood up in late 2009, the leadership in ACC, the Army Materiel Command and the Department of the Army decided the VCE should be designed and managed by contracting professionals with support from the program managers and technical communities," Meinert explained.

"This team of contracting professionals has a wide breadth of experience. With contracting officers managing the tools it became a natural fit for the CONOPS directorate."

Thompson said the team works closely with the CONOPS policy and quality assurance divisions ensuring the tools reflect the current policy guidance and reporting requirements for meeting ACC and higher headquarters oversight responsibilities.

The ACC G6 chief information officer provides infrastructure support by helping VCE personnel manage hardware and service-level agreements with the Redstone Directorate of Information Management and Program Manager -- Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Enterprise Systems and Services.

"The VCE team has been instructed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Army (Procurement) to field the VCE across the entire Army," Meinert said.

"The team is currently fielding the VCE to ACC, Army Corps of Engineers, Army Medical Command, and U.S. Army Central Command. The team has also begun discussions for fielding VCE to the National Guard. Additionally, certain tools within the VCE like its dashboards and business intelligence reporting tools are being used by the Army program executive office and program manager community."

The tools are available at for all ACC employees and organizations. The team has trained approximately 85 percent of the offices that will be using VCE and expect to have the rest trained by year end.