By Rick Gregory, PEO STRI Strategic Communications Support Staff
It has often been said that “the biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) and its contracting arm, the Army Contracting Command – Orlando (ACC-Orlando) have gone to great lengths to ensure that they have an open line of communication with industry—not an illusion thereof.
Besides ongoing daily individual engagements with industry representatives, regularly scheduled face-to-face group sessions keep everyone apprised of the status of PEO STRI programs, procurements and opportunities for industry to request updates on future requirements.
Industry communication outreach includes the Training and Simulation Industry Symposium (TSIS), which is held in June and December along with other military services; a monthly Procurement Administrative Lead Time (PALT) Industry Day session; ad hoc industry days; and an annual Industry Day Panel session.
“These frequent and constructive communication tools between PEO STRI, ACC-Orlando and industry are geared to helping industry decide if they want to make a proposal on our requirements, and to improve their proposals if they do,” said Joe Giunta, ACC-Orlando’s executive director and principal assistant responsible
for contracting. “Improved proposals get a better product into the Soldiers’ hands faster and at a fairer price to the taxpayer.”
Speaking at an industry day panel, Mike Flanagan, currently with CACI International Inc. and a former project manager with PEO STRI, emphasized the importance of the open communication tools. “When you put out a request for proposals, it enters everyone’s pipeline. Now they want to come talk to you about it and understand it more,” he explained. “It’s a big investment they make in time, energy and money. Communicating as much detail as possible, including the vision, scope of work, timeline, etc., helps industry determine if it is something we want to pursue.”
Matt Fair, vice president at Tactical Micro and also a PEO STRI alumnus, said the PALT sessions have “not only led to improved communication with the government, but the secondary effects on industry-to-industry communication have also been significant.”
The details of each communications effort are:
TSIS – Held in June and again in December at the annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, TSIS provides an opportunity to network and interact with procurement officials for training and simulation products and services from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force as well as other industry partners. From the Army, attendees hear about future capabilities, requirements and gaps. Current and near-term opportunities are briefed, followed by question-and-answer sessions and panel discussions, to ensure clear understanding. Acquisition strategies, timing and funding levels, if known, are briefed along with the appropriate point of contact information.
PALT Industry Day – The monthly PALT Industry Day session provides interested industry partners with information regarding the status of ongoing ACC-Orlando procurements and the opportunity to request updates on specific procurements of interest in a question-and-answer forum. There is no fixed government agenda, and industry representatives are responsible for requesting an update on specific procurements of interest to them. Government representatives at the monthly sessions do not provide any sensitive procurement information that would violate the integrity of the source selection process.
“PALT Industry Day Sessions were born as a means of providing ground truth and situational awareness to our industry partners,” Giunta said. The PALT initiative has enabled the workforce to respond more quickly to critical, emerging requirements with innovative acquisition and technology solutions. And the sessions have evolved into market research opportunities for requiring activities as well as a venue for industry partners to develop relationships and teaming opportunities that in turn benefit contract performance. The monthly sessions have grown significantly, with more than 200 industry representatives routinely in attendance.
Ad Hoc Industry Days – There are multiple types of industry days to encourage early exchange of ideas. The requiring activity, for instance, may hold an industry day for the purpose of conducting marketing research to allow industry to gain insight into the agency needs and potential future requirements. Another type of industry day is a presolicitation conference to promote a full understanding of the government’s specific acquisition requirement and to enhance the government’s ability to obtain quality supplies and services. In addition to sharing information about the acquisition at these sessions, the government encourages and carefully considers industry questions, and provides a formal response to all attendees.
Annual Industry Day Panel – These sessions provide invited industry leaders the opportunity to give PEO STRI’s and ACC-Orlando’s workforce a clearer understanding of the challenges they face when competing for the various contract proposals fielded by the organizations. During the annual two-hour sessions, panel members each provide an overview of their specific topics, and a question-and-answer session follows.
Industry consultant Bill Bond, who retired from the Army as a major general and served as commander of PEO STRI when it was known as the Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command, stressed the importance of two-way communication at a recent industry day panel. “The key part of what we talked about here today is relationships,” he said. “We need to be able to build relationships and pass information back and forth so we can apply lessons learned and do things better.” To ensure that the entire PEO STRI and ACC-Orlando contracting workforce understands the importance of the ongoing communication efforts with industry, an acquisition instruction titled “Communication with Industry” is posted on the employee intranet as well as the PEO STRI public website under the Business Opportunities tab.
For more information, go to http://www.peostri.army.mil/REFERENCEMATERIAL/.