LOS ANGELES AFB, CA -- In the Defense Contract Management Agency's Space and Missile Systems Division, it has been an axiom that "space acquisition is different" and recently that was proven.
Representatives from the Space and Missile Systems Center, DCMA space-centric contract management offices and space industry partners met for the first Joint Immersion Day which was jointly hosted by DCMA Space and Missile Systems Division and SMC. The full day of events was held at the Community Center at the Fort MacArthur housing area in San Pedro, Calif.
Mrs. Patricia Kirk-McAlpine, DCMA Space and Missile Systems and Ground Systems and Munitions Divisions director, started the morning off by welcoming attendees. She encouraged everyone to learn throughout the day in the various workshops and take seriously the concept of government, customers and industry all working together to keep warfighters safe. Her remarks were followed by an SMC overview given by Mr. Lawrence Clark, acting director of contracts.
A wide variety of workshops were offered including contracting incentives, Evolutionary Acquisition, Six Sigma culture, systems engineering, FAR Part 45 rewrite, Berry Amendment, Earned Value Management, subcontract and supply chain management, proposal pricing and compliance/internal governance, implementation of specifications and standards and NSS-03-01 (National Security Space Acquisition Policy). The workshops were led by representatives from SMC, DCMA, the Defense Acquisition University and industry representatives.
"Lieutenant General Michael Hamel, SMC commander, was so impressed with the first-ever Joint Immersion Day that he included it as a success story in his weekly video-teleconference with the Undersecretary of the Air Force, Dr. Ron Sega," said Ms. Leslie Kenney, DCMA customer liaison representative to SMC and Immersion Day coordinator.
In the Contracting Incentive Workshop presented by Mr. James McNulty, a Defense Acquisition University professor, the Government Accountability Of- fice report (GAO-06-06) to the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Committee on Armed Service, U.S. Senate was discussed. The report found that "award fees have not been effective in achieving acquisition outcomes; the Department of Defense engages in practices that undermine efforts to motivate contractor performance and contractors; and contractors are not held accountable for achieving desired acquisition outcomes in things such as cost, schedule and performance," said Mr. McNulty. As a result, DoD concurred with three of the GAO's recommendations, which are to issue DoD guidance on when "rollover" is appropriate, move towards outcomebased award fee criteria, and develop a mechanism to share best practices. DoD partially concurred to motivate contractors by only paying for work above satisfactory performance. "DoD stated it was fair and reasonable to pay a portion of the fee based on satisfactory performance while the bulk should be based on excellent performance," said Mr. McNulty.
"Evolution Acquisition is the preferred DoD strategy for rapid acquisition of mature technology to the user," said Maj. George Bock of DAU. "Success depends on continuous definition of requirements and mature technology."
The benefits of EA discussed during this workshop were the reduction in cycle time and speedy delivery of advanced warfighting capability, the development and fielding of manageable pieces of hardware and software with demonstrated technologies, and providing for continual improvements in capability that accommodate improved technologies which allow for full and adaptable systems over time. "Performance-based contracts fit well with EA strategy. Flexibility allows the contractor to achieve results," said Major Bock
Six Sigma is a process where new products and processes are designed to meet customer needs. "Six Sigma is more than just a process improvement," said Mr. Craig Wesser, Six Sigma operations manager, Northrop Grumman Space Technology. There is a need to improve existing processes so that their outputs meet customer requirements. As explained by Mr. Wesser, critical components of process management are well-defined processes, visible measures that are accurately and routinely collected, a measure of things important to the customer and business success, an identification of gaps and target improvements, and an open culture willing to self-examine. Six Sigma benefits the customer by better program performance and better program bids and estimates. "Skill enhancement of employees improves the effectiveness and effi- ciency of people working on programs," said Mr. Wesser. "Through reduced task costs, customers can expect overall costs (and potentially bid rates) to decrease ... customers can have higher confidence in bid accuracy."
Mr. Len Salazar, property manager for DCMA Space and Missile Systems Division, presented the FAR Part 45 Rewrite Implications workshop, which included the goals of the proposed rule as updating and clarifying terminology, leverage existing resources with new technologies and applications, limiting the amount of government property furnished to contractors, creating a modern performance based policy, and maximizing continuous improvement. "A major change to the FAR is the introduction of using commercial standards and industry leading practices into the property management process, where applicable, and to the maximum extent possible," said Mr. Salazar.
The Berry Amendment workshop, presented by Mr. Dave Ricci, deputy executive director of contract operations for DCMA, was another topic offered. The Berry Amendment "restricts the use of DoD funds to pay for certain items that are not grown, reprocessed, reused or produced in the United States," said Mr. Ricci. Items covered under Berry include cotton, woven silk, synthetic fiber, canvas products, wool, specialty metals, such as stainless steel, and hand or measuring tools. "As of June 15, there are 332 potential noncompliant suppliers," said Mr. Ricci. "It would be reasonable to expect to see training, more government oversight, and possibly some refinement of regulatory language in the future."