As the Navy seeks to gain efficiencies, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) staff is leading the way as the responsible steward of taxpayer’s dollars.
Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) has established contract courts to drive awareness, transparency, validation, and accountability for contract requirements. The Echelon One staff is achieving efficiencies through proper alignment of contracting authority, promoting ethical acquisition practices, cost avoidance, and savings with assistance from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP). From the outset, NAVSUP has expanded its contracting support by focusing on the development and refinement of three key areas of support, which include a Training Plan, Change Management Strategy, and Contract Execution.
The comprehensive Training Plan is a multi-tiered curriculum designed to instruct specific organizational leadership levels on the elements of the acquisition cycle. To this end, NAVSUP has provided a cadre of training professionals to include Contracting Officers, Attorneys, and Small Business Specialists.
The executive training designed for senior level managers includes discussions on Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s Better Buying Power Initiatives, peer review thresholds, various contract types, bundling/consolidation consideration, contractors in the workplace, procurement integrity, contract administration, and contract oversight. This well-received training session also addressed specific business challenges for OPNAV senior leaders. For the Action Officers and Requirements Generators, NAVSUP developed a fundamental training curriculum that provides targeted analysis of the detailed elements of the acquisition cycle.
Significant amount of time is devoted to acquisition planning/strategy, requirements refinement, pre-solicitation documentation, source selection, and contract administration/oversight. Additional topics include market research, Independent Government Estimate (IGE), commerciality, personal versus non-personal services, required sources, small business considerations, identification of sources, Request for Contractual Procurement (RCP), Plan of Actions & Milestones (POA&M), Justifications & Approvals (J&A), and Organization Conflict of Interests (OCI). Finally, the specialized Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) training was developed specifically for current and future CORs. Topics include duties and responsibilities, contract surveillance, training requirements, and Contractors Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS).
The Change Management Strategy included immediate stand-up of a NAVSUP Liaison Office to provide on-site planning and requirements development assistance to OPNAV action officers. The office is comprised of members of the Acquisition Workforce assigned to optimize communications in the development of contracting solutions. The office has assisted in the establishment of policy for management and oversight of acquisition services, which has been emulated by several Echelon Two Commands. The office has been instrumental in assisting with contract court and the OPNAV Requirements Review Board (ORRB) process. ORRB’s primary role is to validate and approve all OPNAV service support requirements. It also ensures the acquisition of services is strategic in nature, represents sound business practices and complies with applicable laws, regulations, and directives. In addition, the office continues to coordinate additional training such as COR Tracking (CORT) Tool and Wide Area Work Flow (WAWF) for Action Officers. Lastly, the office tracks contract status and provides COR program management support.
In the area of Contract Execution, NAVSUP has developed a risk assessment model to identify levels of risk present with existing requirements. The following areas have been reviewed for risk assessment: Average FTE Cost, Other Direct Costs (ODCs) greater than 10 percent, ceiling increase on existing contracts, level of competition, performance and schedule risk. In addition to the characteristics listed above, NAVSUP has assisted in a contract portfolio review to highlight “Tripwires” that need enhanced visibility. Tripwires that are receiving increased focus are bridge contracts, Justification & Approvals, source selection premiums greater than 10 percent, and single bids (“one bids”) received under competitive solicitations. The tripwires mentioned increase vulnerabilities in the contracting system, which may lead to fraud, waste, and abuse. Therefore, tripwire awareness fosters improved risk management.
Further, NAVSUP has developed performance metrics to measure the effectiveness of contracting support through contract transition, governance, oversight, compliance with regulations, and risk mitigation. The performance metrics define and measure performance in the following areas … competition, procurement action lead time, tripwires, awards to small business, COR management, and savings. Performance objectives include enhanced competition, reduced procurement administrative lead-time, increased small business participation, heightened COR management/oversight, and maximized savings.
As requirements are validated through the review board process, NAVSUP will continue to identify opportunities for consolidation across the OPNAV Codes as well as identify strategic sourcing solutions. Thus, the performance metrics have created a key barometer of effective contracting support.
To date, NAVSUP has processed multiple requirements using various contracting vehicles since the ORRB process was established. About 96 percent of these requirements have been awarded through competition. Just four contract actions have crossed tripwires, which received additional scrutiny to validate necessity and manage risk. Through the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2013, 52 percent of the dollars obligated have been awarded to, and are providing opportunities for, small businesses. With the expanded support, NAVSUP has delivered savings through the elimination of service fees while aligning contracts under a single Head of Contracting Authority (HCA). Throughout this focused support period, NAVSUP has succeeded in avoiding/mitigating tripwires, supported the development of sound acquisition strategies, and delivered training to requirement generators and CORs. In addition, NAVSUP has effectively, and consistently, delivered savings through contract negotiations and competition.
In summary, OPNAV and NAVSUP have successfully collaborated to align contract management procedures through the development and refinement of three core focus areas … Training, Change Management, and Contract Execution, which together have established appropriate governance and disciplined oversight to achieve best value and mission accomplishment.
By Cmdr. Shawn Norwood, SC, USN
Site Director, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Contracting Department Philadelphia Office