Delayed funding, turbulence undermine Army contracting process
Continuing resolutions, sequestration and delayed budgets cause unpredictability and undermine Army acquisition efforts, said Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, director, force development, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
Wins, speaking at a Hot Topic forum on Army contracting sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army, said, "The resulting effect is that you have to make shifts and adjustments, creating a lot of extra turbulence in an already turbulent process."
A certain amount of funding is necessary to execute the Army’s acquisition strategy on time, Wins said. "And the more delays that occur, the farther behind you fall on being able to obligate those dollars."
To ensure delivery of the Army’s capability to modernize, Wins recommend three steps:
Reasonably achievable requirements. Frame the requirements in such a way to determine what is a "must have" capability vs. what is just "nice to have."
Determine highest priority capabilities. The Army "needs consistent and unwavering oversight and advocacy from senior leaders" to decide what programs are most important to complete, Wins said.
He pointed to the Stryker program as an example: "The singular focus from the chief of staff of the Army was the single most important factor to drive that program to success."
Stable funding. "We have to make sure that we protect and preserve the funding, because if we don’t, we find ourselves cutting and stretching programs" which causes inefficiency and vulnerability.
There is also a need for better collaboration between those who write requirements, those responsible for resources, the developer of the solutions, and the testers, Wins said.
Maj. Gen. Kevin O’Connell, commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, said about two-thirds of his mission set is executed through service contracts.
"We have over 300 service contracts, for maintenance, supply, transportation, food services and other logistics functions," he said.
Adding, "As the Army’s mission and strategy changes, we will continue to rely on contractors to meet our needs."
Regarding the current era of constrained fiscal resources, O’Connell said Army Sustainment Command has achieved 19 percent savings by eliminating redundancies and duplicated contracts, and more closely scrutinizing performance.
However, funding predictability continues to be a major obstacle.
"If we don’t have predictability early in the fiscal year, we end up running numerous ‘what-if’ budget drills, which takes staff off other missions they should be doing," he added.