JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Assuring Army customers receive what they pay for is the objective behind a new quality assurance policy published by Mission and Installation Contracting Command officials in January.

The policy also marks a major milestone in helping correct the Army material weakness in contract administration and oversight. It follows the MICC's Quality Assurance Program roadmap to provide guidance on goals, expectations and functional requirements for quality assurance across the command leading to improved customer service.

The roadmap includes three basic elements -- policy and procedures, quality assurance workforce development and contracting officer's representative management.

"This policy is a major step in the MICC Quality Assurance Program," said Joe Merry, a senior quality assurance specialist with the MICC Strategic Services Quality Assurance. "The Army has a material weakness in contract administration and oversight and documentation of that oversight. In many cases, we do not have documentation to support that the Army received acceptable services and supplies in accordance with the requirements of the contract to justify contractor payments. It demonstrates that we are committed to moving forward in addressing the Army material weakness with contract administration."

MICC quality assurance specialists are acquisition professionals and members of the command's acquisition team. The policy defines their roles in conducting the quality assurance mission, which is critical to the success and efforts to hold contractors responsible and accountable for performance and quality control.

The command's overarching goal is to ensure it has an effective and independent government quality assurance program required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. The program assures contracted services or supplies conform to contract requirements, and contractors are "acceptably maintaining" their quality control systems to ensure they are providing acceptable services or supplies.

Merry said it is also important to understand that quality control is the responsibility of contractors, and the MICC Quality Assurance Program focus is determining that contractors are maintaining adequate quality control inspection systems congruent with the services performed and supplies furnished under contracts.

Merry pointed out that it is difficult to hold contractors responsible and accountable for performance and quality control if requirements have not been well defined with measureable outcomes. This is where quality assurance specialists can play a role in the pre-award process through assisting in determining if requirements are written with welldefined outcomes.

The new quality assurance program policy is available on the MICC SharePoint site.