A case study in acquisition centralization

PM P2E supports a globally connected Army—and the “global” part can be a real challenge, as requests for IT acquisition support flow in from around the world, including many urgent requests from Soldiers in theater. To respond, PM P2E had to revamp to meet the demand, and an organization that had used a traditional, decentralized approach to developing requirements created a one-stop shop for acquisition, which yields better buying power efficiencies and alignment with JIE objectives.

By Mr. James “Chris” Christopher Woodis

Product Manager Power Projection Enablers (PM P2E) is one of the Army’s top-tier information technology (IT) product offices. It acquires and implements enterprise IT capabilities for a globally connected Army, providing the full spectrum of network and information services so Soldiers, commands and supporting organizations can access, process and act upon information anytime, anywhere. P2E carries out this mission in support of globally deployed forces in the Central, European, Africa and Pacific Commands. Its materiel development portfolio is a critical part of the DA’s initiative to transform its enterprise network into a cohesive force-multiplier by enabling DOD’s Joint Information Environment (JIE) vision: a global network that will allow warfighters to work jointly and collaboratively in a secure information-sharing environment.

To effectively manage a global portfolio of emerging, complex requirements, P2E leadership had to change the way it managed business. It needed a leaner, more agile approach to the acquisition process. Having team personnel spread across the globe led to constant duplication of efforts, longer development queue times for artifacts—performance work statements, pricing matrices, quality assurance surveillance plans, requests-for-information documentation, work breakdown structures, independent government cost estimates and the like—fragmented working relationships and confusion at the ground level where requirements were being elicited and documented.

Faced with these challenges, PM P2E leadership recognized the need for a standardized team of IT acquisition experts at their headquarters to establish a one-stop shop for all acquisition-focused efforts. Having the team in a single time zone would reduce artifact development times, decrease delays, reduce cycle times and increase predictability of contract award outcomes—enabling better communication and quicker decision-making for each acquisition. PM P2E would then have a skilled onsite workforce for real-time solution development where cross-functional teams share resources, information and lessons learned across procurements—irrespective of size, scope and complexity. This team became the P2E Acquisition Directorate.

CENTRALIZING FOR SAVINGS

CENTRALIZING FOR SAVINGS
P2E serves Army customers around the globe. Efficient, cost-effective acquisition was challenging in a decentralized environment, so P2E reorganized, creating a new, centralized Acquisition Directorate to reduce duplication and maintain institutional knowledge about global IT acquisition. (Photo courtesy PM P2E Pacific Directorate)

Since its inception in 2013, the PM P2E Acquisition Directorate has moved forward on all fronts. It is now the official liaison to contracting centers, working in a straight line with contracting officers and specialists where, before, contact with the contracting centers came from multiple sources and information was not always communicated across the entire team. PM P2E is efficiently incorporating continuous process improvement and building customizable acquisition toolkits to facilitate quicker contract awards, and introducing significant cost savings by reducing the need for frequent and expensive travel to the Pacific, Europe, Africa and southwest Asia, creating operational efficiencies and increasing leadership support of standardizing network architectures across the Army enterprise.

In this capacity, and aligned to Better Buying Power (BBP), the directorate can now provide streamlined “cradle to grave” support across theaters from pre-award activities such as scope definition, acquisition artifact development, market research, funding coordination and industry proposal evaluation, to post-award performance monitoring and project closeout activities. These offerings have produced high-quality throughput in developing acquisitions and have allowed the directorate to target affordability and control cost growth while incentivizing productivity and innovation to improve the tradecraft across the portfolio.

Centralizing the directorate has enabled team members to work in partnership, following DOD guidance, to ensure acquisition documentation-­streamlining stays on path with BBP—thus meeting the Army’s expectations to actively and aggressively look at ways to achieve affordable programs, control costs throughout the product life cycle, incentivize productivity and innovation in industry and government, eliminate unproductive processes and bureaucracy, promote effective competition, improve tradecraft in the acquisition of services and improve professionalism of the total acquisition workforce. Executing these activities from a single, centralized location has enhanced and accelerated acquisition cycle times, echoing BBP through process integrity in streamlining PM P2E’s acquisition documentation.

COLLABORATIVE COMMUNICATION

COLLABORATIVE COMMUNICATION
U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division discuss mission objectives May 24, while working in a tactical operations center during multinational exercise Combined Resolve IV at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. Part of PM P2E’s mission is to provide Soldiers with the full spectrum of network access anytime, anywhere. (Photo by Spc. Brian Chaney)

The Acquisition Directorate comprises a cross-functional workforce of personnel ranging from IT acquisition subject matter experts and senior project controllers to expert project management and technical oversight teams—effectively representing the backbone of PM P2E’s project execution. Their mission is to provide a central point of integration and synchronization for all PM P2E acquisition activities. This sea change in centralization has increased efficiencies and allowed for agile, elastic support that maintains consistent quality and deliverable throughput despite increasing demand, urgency of requirements and high theater operational tempo across multiple time zones.

CONCLUSION
PM P2E is now able to provide better communications and acquisition transparency—critical to senior Army decision-makers in the face of fiscal austerity—implementing accelerated acquisition processes and streamlining contracting instrument options to better serve its theater customer base. Ultimately, the PM P2E Product Office is now more flexible, responsive and able to make more informed contracting strategy decisions.

To date, standing up the PM P2E Acquisition Directorate has resulted in measurable improvements in process performance, full accountability for theater IT requirements and the institutionalization of agile concepts and methodologies. Through those processes and the development of customizable acquisition engineering toolkits, the Acquisition Directorate has shown measurable improvements in process performance, scaling down artifact development cycle times, in some cases in excess of three months per requirement; thus, enabling rapid speed to market contracting solutions that are delivered on-time to meet the mission needs. The P2E mantra is to continue to develop a culture of continuous improvement with a laser-focused execution of the P2E mission.

LIFESAVING CONNECTIVITY ON-THE-GO

LIFESAVING CONNECTIVITY ON-THE-GO
Platoon Leader 2LT Crockett Colbert establishes radio contact with other American forces before advancing toward a mock enemy position during Exercise Combined Resolve III, held in November 2014 in Grafenwoehr, Germany. PM P2E’s ability to get equipment where it’s needed when it’s needed is critical. (Photo by SGT William A. Parsons, 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

For more information on standing up a centralized Acquisition Directorate for your organization, contact Mr. Jorge Caballero, PM P2E, acting director of acquisitions, at 703-806-4846 or jorge.l.caballero4.civ@mail.mil.

MR. JAMES “CHRIS” CHRISTOPHER WOODIS, senior consultant, is the program manager for Octo Consulting Group, supporting P2E, Project Manager Installation Information Infrastructure – Communications and Capabilities (PM I3C2), Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS). He is a Certified Federal Contracting Manager, (Scaled Agile Framework Agilist) and holds an MBA and a B.S. in business management from the University of Phoenix, Arizona. He has more than 15 years of acquisition engineering expertise in applying practical, agile, tailored approaches to acquisition engineering, IT strategic planning, enterprise architecture and portfolio management.

CONTRIBUTORS:
Mr. Michael A. Snyder provides contracting support to PM P2E for Octo Consulting Group; Mr. Jorge L. Caballero Jr. is acting director for acquisitions for PM P2E, PM I3C2, PEO EIS.

This article was originally published in the October – December 2015 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

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