New Year’s resolutions take on many forms. Whether it’s kicking a bad habit, curbing meals to lose weight or perhaps a making a greater effort to keep in touch with family and friends beyond the occasional social media post, a new calendar year often begins with the best intentions.
Such intentions may also call for an evaluation of spending in hopes of socking away a little more in retirement accounts or building a coffer for future tuition needs of soon-to-be high school graduates. Similar efforts to save across the government also begin with individual resolutions and don’t necessarily require meticulous analysis.
Introduced as a replacement for the Army Suggestion Program, the Army Ideas for Innovation, or AI2, program became fully operation in 2017 and strives to capitalize on A innovative and creative solutions put forth by civilian and uniformed members of the service that contribute to cost savings, increased productivity and improved processes.
The call for innovative solutions by the government aimed at realizing cost savings isn’t necessarily a novel concept. In fact, a lesser known workforce goes about that task as its daily endeavor. Members of the Army Acquisition Corps possess a combination of requisite education, experience and certification levels vital in carrying out their duties to include contracting. They make up about 34 percent of the Army acquisition workforce consisting of approximately 38,500 professionals responsible for developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining equipment and services to meet the Army’s present and emerging needs.
Contracting officers in the 1102 career series and Soldiers in the 51 Charlie military occupational specialty at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command make up a subset of the Army Acquisition Corps. They are responsible for acquiring equipment and services that support service members from the time they voluntarily raise their right hand in solemn oath to serve this nation through retirement as part of the Soldier for Life initiative.
In fiscal 2018, MICC contracting officers and Soldiers executed almost 30,000 contracts valued at more than $5 billion. This included contracts for professional scientific and technical services, administrate support, remediation services, construction, manufacturing, educational services, accommodations, food services, and utilities just to name a few. MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, ensuring installation readiness with many daily base operations support services, readying more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which governs processes for acquiring contract goods and services by the DoD as well as all executive agencies, serves as the bible for contracting professionals. It prescribes policies and procedures for negotiating contract awards using other than a sealed bid. By using one or a combination of source selection approaches, MICC contracting officers obtain the best value in a negotiated acquisition.
Employed by contracting officers every day, negotiation tactics can spell significant savings and increased benefit for the Army both on a smaller scale for relatively low-dollar buys through reverse auction as well as with complex acquisitions. As many government contractors discover, skillful negotiation benefits both their respective industry interests and the government as each strives for innovative pursuits to meet operational priorities and focused efforts.
The significant role by MICC contracting professionals in the transition of rotary aircraft maintenance services between contractors at Fort Rucker, Alabama, earlier this year illustrates the value the contracting workforce bares on the Army’s efforts to save costs. The innovative approach to the $4.7 billion contract presents the potential for 191,000 extra flight hours over the next 10 years, according to the GAO, estimated at a DoD benefit of $876 million.
MICC contracting professionals also contribute to government savings by reducing opportunity costs that take on a not-so-tangible form. Efforts by the command to standardize acquisitions for full food services and base operations this year offer enterprise-wide solutions for not only decreasing bid and proposal costs but also dramatically curbing touch labor and procurement acquisition lead time.
Not only does the contracting workforce save the Army money, but also those savings – both tangible and intangible – allows leadership from supported organizations to redirect those funds and resources toward other mission priorities. As trusted business advisers to their mission partners, MICC contracting professionals are dedicated to the timely delivery of contract goods and services in support of Soldiers and the Army’s commitment to readiness.