By Ben Gonzales, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeFebruary 28, 2013
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Providing the contracting needs for more than 35,000 Soldiers and their families at the Army's second-largest installation is no easy task, but members of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Bliss accomplish that every day.
The 56 members making up the contracting office plan, integrate, award and administer contracts for Army commands and units on post, which are spread over 992,000 acres.
Home to the Army's second largest maneuver area as well as 1,500 square miles of virtually unrestricted airspace used for missile and artillery training and testing, Fort Bliss has the room to accommodate the 300-percent increase in its population over the last five years. Providing and sustaining the contract needs of the installation is where the MICC-Fort Bliss staff comes in.
In fiscal 2012, the Soldiers and civilians at MICC-Fort Bliss executed more than 2,100 contract actions valued at more than $207 million. They take care of all of Fort Bliss' major units - including the 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss Garrison, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Brigade Modernization Command, Joint Task Force-North, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy -- and assist with the new William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
The MICC-Fort Bliss staff partners with its customers to evaluate and determine the best course of action to achieve award, management and oversight of contracts. Such efforts have included the teaming with 1st AD officials to develop a contract action review board to assist the division in prioritizing its contract requirements.
"We sit with the 1st AD's chief of staff and go through all the large requirements to make sure we procure only what is truly necessary for the customer," said Lt. Col. Shawn Jenkins, the MICC-Fort Bliss associate director. "Since fiscal 2010, our staff helped 1st AD with a 54-percent reduction in costs with no noticeable reduction in services through smart contracting and consolidation of requirements. They understand the value of contracting and how we can work together to save the Army money."
Fort Bliss leaders and customers recognize and seek the expert technical contracting advice and assistance of the MICC-Fort Bliss staff. It is about selecting contract types and methods of solicitations to obtain services and supplies designed to best meet customers' requirements, said Hester Stone, a contracting officer. He said the ability to interact and understand different customers' needs and execute acquisitions requirements in a timely manner on a daily basis is vital to providing responsive contracting solutions and oversight.
In addition to working with Fort Bliss commands, support by the contracting office reaches beyond the post gates to local small businesses that perform many of the contracts required for the installation. In fiscal 2012, more than $69 million went to area small businesses through more than 1,300 contract actions. Leading the effort for Fort Bliss is Sue Jones, the small business specialist.
"We open our doors to meet with area small business representatives every Friday to educate local officials on what opportunities are available here as well as provide the forecast for contracts to come," Jones said.
When Jones isn't working as the conduit for area businesses, she trains the MICC-Fort Bliss staff on market research for small businesses and how the programs benefit the Army and local economies.
Administering contracts for installation units takes the efforts of all the MICC-Fort Bliss team.
"In a constantly changing environment, my job is to strive to keep my team on track through mentoring while staying abreast of the current policies and changes in the dynamic contracting world," said Melissa Garcia, a contracting officer in the major acquisitions division. She leads four contract specialists.
To make sure the contracting office staff keeps up to date, MICC-Fort Bliss conducts weekly contracting developmental training for contracting officials as well as the newly assigned Soldiers. Many of the contracting officials in uniform have only been in the job for a short time, so the staff implemented a new military training rotational program exposing Soldiers to as many facets of contracting as possible.
With such a demanding customer base, many MICC-Fort Bliss members manage high-dollar contracts. Wendy Colon, a contract specialist, awarded three information technology supply contracts totaling $170,000 and three service contracts totaling $17 million last fiscal year. George Brown, the contract management chief, manages more than 200 contracts valued in excess of $948 million.
"I help by awarding contracts on-time while being good stewards of our taxpayer dollars and ensuring the contracts meet the needs of the Soldiers," Brown said.