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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

US military procurement staff getting boost

Finely tuned procurement policies and rules are useless without the trained and professional staff required to understand and effectively implement them.

Army working to institutionalize contracting reforms
"We are more than doubling our contractor workforce, including more than 175 noncommissioned officers and we will add over 1,600 new civilian contracting specialists to provide better contract execution, management and oversight," Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, principal Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, told the commission.

"We have to institutionalize the way we execute contingency contracting."

Over the last decade, Army contracting experienced over a 15-percent reduction in its workforce while simultaneously managing a 500-percent increase in contracted dollars, service officials said. The Army issued $135 billion in contracts in FY 2009, compared to $32 billion in 1997.

The Army has more than doubled its number of Contracting Officers Representatives in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last year in an effort to improve oversight and help rebuild local communities.

Within the last year, the number of CORs in Iraq has jumped from a 59-percent fill rate up to a 94-percent fill rate. Similarly, the number of CORs in Afghanistan has more than doubled, jumping from a 38-percent fill rate in January of last year to an 80-percent fill rate by January of this year.

In short, the Army has added hundreds of CORs to the war zone to help oversee local contracting and ensure that goods and services arrive as paid for, said Edward Harrington, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Procurement.
House Panel OKs Bill To Beef Up Pentagon’s Procurement Process The House Armed Services Committee moved Wednesday to enhance the Defense Department’s procurement workforce and reduce its reliance on outside contractors.

The bill would require the Pentagon to create a performance management system to consider shifting work away from contractors that are not meeting cost-standards. The bill also would require department agencies to create measurements for success, such as schedule and cost objectives, and to ensure procurement organizations adhere to them.

“Our legislation will help the Department of Defense design better ways to measure value within the defense acquisition system, develop and train the defense acquisition workforce, and foster a robust domestic industrial base,” said the panel’s ranking Republican Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California.

“We need to know why we’re buying something before we buy it.” Robert E. Andrews , D-N.J., explained.

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