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Aberdeen contracting center assisting Afghan National Police

June 8, 2011

By Betsy Kozak, ACC-Aberdeen Proving Ground

ABERDEEN, Md. - The Department of Defense turned to the Army Contracting Command-Aberdeen Proving Ground to initiate a contract that would provide funding for the training and mentoring for Afghanis enrolled in the U.S.-sponsored Afghanistan National Police training program.

Susan Greider, procuring contracting officer, and Russell Shockley, contract specialist and cost team lead, led the efforts to complete the contracting action. Neither team member knew this was the beginning of a demanding journey with many twists and turns. The team worked closely with the Department of State.

“The transition wasn’t easy moving from a DOS contract to a Department of Defense contract because the regulations and requirements are completely different,” stated Greider. “The DOD and DOS inspectors general both followed the transition closely.”

They were finalizing requirements for the Afghanistan National Army when notified of the additional work for the ANP. Originally, the DOD Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program had the lead on the ANP support effort, but the Government Accountability Office determined that the ANP requirement was not within the scope of contract selected.

The DOD turned to the ACC-APG team to issue a contract for this additional ANP support. After eight months of preparation and working closely with both DOS and DOD, the contract was awarded on Dec. 20, 2010. It was a cost-plus-fixed fee contract with a two-year base period valued at $717.4 million and a 120-day phase-in period to full performance.

Greider and Shockley began working on the project in April 2010 and were instructed that this contract had to be awarded by the end of the calendar year. Greider relied on her 25 years of contracting experience to guide her. They immediately began developing the acquisition strategy. To gain approval, members of the team met with Shay Assad, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy director, Office of the Decretary of Defense- Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

They received approval in May 2010 and soon thereafter hosted an industry day with prospective vendors to obtain specific in-country information for Afghanistan. Approximately 45 vendors took part while Greider and other government representatives conducted one-on-one sessions with interested vendors.

“This exchange helps both the government and industry make more informed business decisions,” Greider said. “This forum allowed for open, frank discussions and the transfer of ideas that may not otherwise be possible.”

With the information gained at the industry day, they prepared the solicitation and the source selection strategy. As part of the strategy, they identified source selection evaluation factors as: technical, experience, performance, and cost.

Technical was rated as acceptable or unacceptable and the experience required three years of recent and relevant experience. Performance was given an adjectival rating of low, moderate or high risk. They conducted a tradeoff analysis between performance and cost for the offerors who were rated as acceptable in both technical and experience.

“Evaluation factors should be true discriminators in a best value source selection. Analyze what matters,” Shockley said. “Due to the criticality of this project, a contractor with proven experience, a successful track record, and a solid technical approach was needed. Of course, this same contractor has to execute at fair and reasonable costs. That was the construct for finding a best value offeror to accomplish this mission.”

The team prepared the request for proposal and members from the Office of the Secretary of Defense conducted a peer review prior to the release. They completed final revisions by mid-July 2010 and the RFP was announced.

“This was a stressful period in my life,” Greider explained. “I knew the work that I was doing was supporting an important mission to bring our troops home. The assignment also had personal meaning to me since my husband deployed to Afghanistan just as work began on this project.”

In September, the source selection evaluation board reviewed the eight offers received. The board consisted of military and civilian members to include participants from the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan. Many of the board members returned from Afghanistan and were in the U.S. for a month to analyze proposals. Prior to the selection, they held two rounds of discussions with each company in the competitive range, followed by proposal revisions. Vendors had one week to submit their revised proposals.

After the review of final proposals, the board briefed the source selection authority on its analyses. The SSA’s decision was based on the comparative assessment of the proposals against the source selection criteria. Greider and Shockley prepared the price negotiation memorandum which documented the agreed-upon price and a written account of the selection rationale and decisions made during negotiations. After a peer review, the contract was awarded on Dec. 20, 2010, 11 days before the year-end deadline imposed by DOD.

“The training in Afghanistan focuses on how to plan, develop, implement and support/sustain defense and police organizations,” Greider said. “Initially the training will be based on a western model with modifications for adaptation by the Afghanistan government in order to achieve self-sufficiency and independent operations.”

In the meantime, the GAO reviewed protests filed by two of the unsuccessful offerors and in early April, denied both protests. The GAO determined that the offerors’ “mere disagreement"with the outcome was not grounds for sustaining either protest.

The contract recently completed the 120-day transition period and is now in full performance.

"The key to our success was regular communication with all stakeholders throughout the entire process,”Greider said. “As a team we worked well together and we documented everything!"

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