By Holly Logan-Arrington, Robins Public Affairs / Published February 15, 2019

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. —

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex’s Maintenance Acquisition Program Office has been making great strides in improving its acquisition process applying the Art of the Possible principles.

Before February 2016, when the organization began using AoP to improve its acquisition process, the office faced many constraints in its contracting process.

Kimberly Harrison, Acquisition Support Branch chief in the WR-ALC Business Operations Office, said specifically, the office is applying AoP to its pre-award acquisition support within the maintenance complex.

Harrison said the organization’s aim is to outline the complex’s acquisition support process to include identifying and defining the roles and responsibilities for both the customer and the MAPO staff, improving acquisition requirements workload management, and providing acquisition processing transparency to customers and leadership. 

One constraint identified was the timing of the acquisition process, Harrison said.

“Every requirement falls within a scope of one out of 80 different acquisition categories guided by Federal Acquisition Regulations, and Department of Defense, Air Force, and local Financial Management instructions and polices, plus the additional contracting agency-specific policies and procedures,” she said.

“Customers generally have no understanding of the necessary long lead times for large dollar requirements, estimated values greater than $250,000, $500,000, $750,000, $1 million, and $10 million dollar thresholds, which require higher headquarters and WR-ALC command-level approvals as well as external organizations’ approvals such as legal, small business, and competition advocacy offices to name a few,” Harrison said.

Part of the problem is customers are not fully aware of how to build an acquisition package a contracting officer can execute, Harrison said.

Additionally, customers’ lack of knowledge about what information about a requirement is necessary to include about a requirement for the acquisition support staff to begin work, and how to submit that requirement, with the minimal required supporting documentation, for pre-award acquisition support has been an issue as well.

Harrison said also, there has been no identifiable single point of contact for customers to submit requirements that call for pre-award acquisition support. 

The office realized there were no defined internal process control mechanisms for accepting customer-identified requirements as valid and supportable work in process thereby resulting in high-levels of WIP individually and unpredictable acquisition process cycle times.

Finally, the organization had limited visibility to pre-award acquisition support WIP and throughput.

Harrison said to address the problem areas, the organization developed a pre-award acquisition support training, targeting individuals tasked to serve as the requirement owner for a group’s acquisition requirement.

“This training teaches individuals the standard work process for submitting a requirement for pre-award acquisition support, to include an overview of the various mandated requirements for acquisition package development and processing,” she said.

Harrison said her office developed and deployed a Requirements Identification Worksheet as a tool to explain to customers what a requirement needs to be ready for a contracting officer’s action.

“The RIW document is designed to draw from the requirement owner the necessary requirement description and other important supplemental information to include the necessary approved funding documentation,” she said.

Another part of the AoP process is to formalize the use of a locally managed system, Financial Database, as the tool to be used for an identified requirement to enter the Pre-Award Acquisition Support machine.

“Requirements are submitted in the system by the requirement owning organization and received into OBCA’s Gate 1, Package Review, of the Pre-award Acquisition Support machine,” she said.

“The FDB serves as OBCA’s electronic AoP data management tool; the system of record for input of all acquisition requirements from customers, organizational funding approval, and tracking of work in process.”

The AoP visual display tracks requirements progressing through the acquisition process from Gate 1, Package Review, through Gate 4, contract award. 

Harrison said in the short-term, oversight of the WIP for acquisition requirements is significantly improved and constraints are more readily identified as the packages move through the various coordinating actions.

“Constraint mitigation early and often will significantly decrease the actual cycle time for packages to move through the acquisition process, thereby resulting in timely awarded contracts, potentially more often ahead of the customer’s requested ‘need date,’” she said.

Harrison said customers’ being able to see the acquisition process more clearly creates more confidence in the overall acquisition process.

“The ability for customers to be able to see the status of their respective requirements in the machine bolsters the confidence of the customer that their requirement is in work and they can track their requirement along the acquisition process,” she said.

Harrison said the process improvements are allowing the organization’s leadership to better track contracting processes down to the smallest level.