Army, Air Force acquisition chiefs to step down

The departures of William LaPlante and Heidi Shyu will likely leave the Air Force and Army without permanent procurement leaders until 2017.
Dr. William A. LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition
Dr. William A. LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition
Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology
Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology

The top acquisition officials from the Air Force and Army announced they will step down in coming weeks, becoming the latest top Pentagon leaders to depart as President Obama begins his final year in the White House.

William LaPlante, the Air Force acquisition head, announced his departure in an email to staff last week. He will leave at the end of November, defense officials said. Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition head, will retire at the end of January, according to an email she also sent to her staff last week.

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Relationship building at core of acquisition success

A Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) contracting officer took advantage of a recent temporary duty visit to conduct a source selection evaluation board at the Presidio of Monterey, California, to foster new customer relationships benefitting the command’s MICC 2025 transformation efforts.

Amber VanHoozer said that in addition to completing a successful evaluation board for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center’s curriculum development, she wanted to seize the opportunity to meet customers she is supporting from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as part of the realignment of workload.

ArmyA source selection evaluation board is an element of a contract’s pre-award peer review. The review includes an assessment of the pre-solicitation, solicitation and contract award documents to validate sound business practices. VanHoozer and representatives from MICC-supported activities on POM discussed various contract actions in detail including which acquisition documents required updates, outstanding documents needed by MICC-Fort Sill to process requirements, and revision of milestone dates associated with various requirements.

“The visit was very productive. Not only did I have an opportunity to meet and work with my contracting counterparts at the POM, but also I met many of the customers I will be working with in the future,” VanHoozer said. “We conducted an effective source selection evaluation board and worked through many issues on upcoming procurements. I do not believe the value of such a visit can be overstated.”

While at POM, she also met with the director of the logistics readiness center as well as the food service team to discuss upcoming procurements, establish milestones and review performance work statements. The visit with the food service team included a tour of the new dining facility under construction that is projected to open in mid-2016.

“Personally touring the facilities gives me a better understanding of the magnitude of work that will be included in this procurement,” she said.

Additional stops included visits with the installation’s resource management staff and staff judge advocate office to review upcoming solicitations. Self-described as a “hands-on” contracting officer, VanHoozer said she enjoys getting to know and helping to educate customers on contract requirements.

“I feel it is extremely important to get out from behind the desk and visit the areas where contract work is being performed,” she said. “This gives contracting a new meaning, it actually brings a contract to life for the contracting officer and contract specialist working the requirements.”

She said the response from customers has been equally constructive and allows for the reciprocal benefit of better understanding the mission of supported activities.

“This trip provided a valuable opportunity to meet our customers face to face and foster the important working relationships that support future success. Although the contracting process follows a number of standardized steps, understanding the functions and missions supported by each contract adds to the complexity of the task,” the Lawton, Oklahoma, native said.

Kay McKinzie, director of MICC-Fort Sill, agrees that face-to-face interaction enhances those working relationships, adding that virtual communications tools can still create a physical distance that separates people and impacts the relationships.

“Whether the customer is asking for help from us or we are asking for support from the customer, familiarity with one another enhances the exchange,” the director said.

Following her TDY, VanHoozer accepted a position as division chief at MICC-Fort Sill that will encompass support of a variety of contracts for customers she just previously met at the Presidio of Monterey.

McKinzie said the MICC 2025 plan has already been implemented in terms of the contracting office’s support of POM contracting actions greater than $150,000. She added that to ensure the success of MICC 2025, VanHoozer and the rest of the contracting team at Fort Sill are focusing on establishing working relationships that are benefitting both MICC-Fort Sill and the customer.

“Developing working relationships with the customers we support is critical to the success of our mission. Most customers really look for support locally and are not happy when an off-site office assumes that support,” McKinzie said. “That unhappiness is the direct result of the lack of relationships they typically experience when the support is off-site. Whether it be in your hometown or office, the more personal relationships result in quicker support and a willingness to ‘help a friend.'”

VanHoozer, a 2001 graduation from Cameron University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, began her civil service career in 1998. She has served as a contracting officer for more than six years and is Level III certified in contracting, which is compliant with the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act to execute contracts on behalf of the government. Prior to joining the MICC, she served in a variety of positions with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in which she developed an understanding of the payment process as it relates to acquisitions.


Army tries to speed cyber acquisition process

The Army is trying to speed cyber-related acquisition by using a template known as the Information Technology Box.

Officials said the goal is to quickly supply soldiers with IT tools such as sensors, forensics and “insider threat discovery capabilities” in a matter of weeks rather than the months or years a traditional acquisition might take.

“Cyber doesn’t fit the traditional acquisition process that you would use to deliver a tank,” said Kevin Fahey, executive director of the Army’s System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, in an article on the Army’s website.

IT Box Model

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Lockheed protests Army’s JLTV contract to Oshkosh

Defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin Corp. on Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015) confirmed it’s protesting the U.S. Army’s decision to award truck-maker Oshkosh Corp. the contract to build a replacement to the iconic Humvee.
Photo Credit: Oshkosh Defense
Photo Credit: Oshkosh Defense

The move came less than two weeks after the the Army awarded Oshkosh a $6.7 billion contract to build the first 17,000 production models of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

The work could eventually be worth some $30 billion, as the Army and Marine Corps plan to buy a total of nearly 55,000 of the combat vehicles, including 49,100 for the Army and 5,500 for the Corps, to replace about a third of the Humvee fleets.

“After evaluating the data provided at our debrief, Lockheed Martin has filed a protest of the award decision on the JLTV program,” according to a statement from the company. “We firmly believe we offered the most capable and affordable solution for the program. Lockheed Martin does not take protests lightly, but we are protesting to address our concerns regarding the evaluation of Lockheed Martin’s offer.”

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Read the earlier article about the Army’s intention to award to Oshkosh here:

Oshkosh wins $6.7 billion contract to replace Humvee vehicle with JLTV

Oshkosh Corp., the truck-maker based in the Wisconsin city of the same name, last week won a $6.7 billion military contract to begin building a replacement for the iconic Humvee called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
Photo Credit: Oshkosh Defense
Photo Credit: Oshkosh Defense

Oshkosh beat out Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, and AM General LLC, the maker of the Humvee, for the award.

“Oshkosh is honored to be selected for the JLTV production contract, which builds upon our 90-year history of producing tactical wheeled vehicles for U.S. military operations at home and abroad,” Chief Executive Officer Charles Szews, said in a statement. “We are fully prepared to build a fleet of exceptional JLTVs to serve our troops in future missions.

The agreement calls for Oshkosh — which also built a fleet of blast-resistant trucks for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to produce about 17,000 of the light-duty JLTVs for the Army and Marine Corps beginning in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, which starts Oct. 1.

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