By Lt. Cmdr. Matthew E. Duncan, SC, USN
Deputy Department Head
Naval Air Systems Command
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Aircraft Support Contracts Department (AIR-2.5) oversees contracting at four different Naval Aviation Warfare Center (NAWC) sites: Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; Orlando, Florida; and China Lake, California. These sites provide services in support of NAWC research and development, test and evaluation, engineering, and fleet support for naval aircraft and weapons. The AIR-2.5 leadership team that includes Capt. Luis Treviño, Cmdr. Paul Fox, and Cmdr. Teresa Stevens, has been working to significantly improve competitive procurement cycle time for services acquisitions. This initiative directly ties to one of NAVAIR’s main areas of focus: increase speed to the fleet through program of record planning and execution, and rapid response to urgent warfighter needs.
AIR-2.5 spearheaded an effort to reform standard labor categories utilized on aircraft support service contracts to improve cost realism analysis on vendor cost proposals. The team developed a guide that simplified Professional Knowledge Based and Services Contract Act functional labor descriptions, educational degree requirements, and experience requirements. The guide also included substitution charts that mapped positions to the Office of Management and Budget’s Standard Occupational Classifications for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains compensation data. The streamlining process focused on actual work year labor data recorded for NAVAIR service contracts, and enabled the customers to see where the majority of their labor dollars were being spent. The guide focused on the top 20 percent of labor categories and eliminated the need to maintain a spreadsheet that unnecessarily tracked over 300 individual, and often seldom used, labor categories.
In addition to restructuring standard labor categories, AIR-2.5 was awarded the 2017 Department of the Navy Acquisition Field Activity Award in recognition of their outstanding acquisition achievement in developing and fielding a new streamlined Content of Proposals and Evaluation Factors (Sections L & M) template and Evaluation Factor Guide for use on all Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 15 competitive services acquisitions. Corollary objectives of the project were:
- Improve clarity for Section L proposal instructions
- Better source selection discriminators in Section M evaluation criteria
- Improve proposal quality (i.e. less errors and deficiencies)
- More efficient proposal evaluations
- Lower bid and proposal costs for industry
The team met over an eight-month period, and team members were required to perform additional research on evaluation best practices vice industry surveys, canvassing other government agency best practices, and coordinating with other key acquisition stakeholders such as NAVAIR customers, small business office, and legal counsel. Upon completion of the streamlined templates and evaluation factor guide, the benefits of the new templates became readily apparent:
- Request For Proposal (RFP) quality has improved, and legal review time has decreased
- Peer reviews and legal review boards have far fewer negative findings
- More contract awards based upon initial proposals
- Proposal evaluation cycle times have decreased
Since instituting this streamlining initiative, competitive FAR Part 15 procurement cycle time from RFP release to award on average has improved by 35 days. Another added benefit of the new templates is that the FAR Part 15 sections L and M templates have now been used as a low-risk, legal counsel endorsed, starting point for further streamlining of proposal instructions and evaluation criteria for FAR Part 16 Fair Opportunity Multiple Award Contract source selections.
Ultimately, reformed labor categories and streamlined documentation have led to better quality evaluations and improved procurement cycle time. AIR-2.5’s hard work and streamlining initiatives are in direct alignment with NAVAIR’s mission and, more importantly, are leading to the delivery of products to the fleet more quickly.