By Virginia Mitchell, ACC Contracting OperationsSeptember 26, 2012
The Army Contracting Command's Government Furnished Property Community of Practice is working diligently to develop its members as a ready resource to property managers, and contracting practitioners across the command and the Army, according to David Groell, ACC GFP CoP lead, Contracting Operations.
"A key factor central to responsible and successful execution of Department of Defense contracts is positive control of government furnished property," Groell said.
"Team members' experience assisting commanders and their staffs with property issues globally has provided the understanding and appreciation of the magnitude of GFP and the on-the-ground issues in identifying and tracking it. The advantages presented by subject matter experts as focal points for the GFP CoP are a benefit in addition to the collaborative aspects for problem solving."
Groell said getting a grip on GFP is of critical importance in terms of sustaining the gains made via government contracts while ensuring good stewardship and accountability of tax payer dollars.
"While GFP represents a significant monetary investment to support the work efforts under a myriad of contracts, we could stand to do a much better job in terms of continuous focus on management of these resources," he said.
"The truth is maintaining clear line-of-sight and positive control over GFP has always been a real challenge and failure to do so has proven to be a persistent area of risk of potential loss, both physical and financial."
According to Groell, a confluence of events has led to increased vulnerability in accountability of GFP, including the sheer numbers of contracts (and complex logistics efforts) awarded in support of overseas contingency operations, multilateral pressures of mission execution under combat or austere conditions, lack of continuity in personnel resources, and knowledge/training levels of personnel assigned to provide on-the-ground oversight.
"DOD did not have in place the needed integrated, interoperable, net-centric and electronic data-driven capabilities to effectively manage its personal property used on contracts," Groell said.
"A number of solutions to address this are now in play forming the cornerstone of GFP reporting including: strong internal controls and oversight practices; interoperable, open architecture that enables a single-face to industry and a DOD Item Unique Identification Registry and GFP Hub, forming the cornerstone of GFP reporting."
In addition, Groell said the Army formed an enterprise resource called the Government Furnished Property Working Group to address and meet these new mandates. To date, the GFPWG has met the first mandate to submit a detailed plan and financial improvement plan.
As part of the plan, two contingency contracts were identified as best suitable to test the effectiveness of the policies and procedures developed--the Kuwait Base Operations and Security Support Services contract, and Logistics Civil Augmentation Plan IV in Afghanistan.
The major lesson learned and recurrent theme of these experiences is the critical importance of maintaining accountability and visibility of GFP to enable commanders in theater to see their assets and enable planning for the movement in and out of the area of operations.
"GFP CoP team members' experiences assisting commanders and their staffs with property issues globally has provided the understanding and appreciation of the magnitude of GFP and the on-the-ground issues in identifying and tracking it," Groell said. "The advantages presented by subject matter experts as focal points for the GFP CoP are a benefit in addition to the collaborative aspects for problem solving."
While ACC is well on its way to addressing many of the issues in order to get a grip on GFP, Groell said there are many challenges that remain.
"It's clear that now more than ever, contracting professionals must be highly transparent and responsible with tax payer dollars in this environment of shrinking resources," Groell said. "Based upon this collective approach, ACC is on the right path toward real accountability of GFP and is gathering the folks with the right experience, expertise, and skill sets to do just that."