Quest continues for new Army contract system
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Oct 30, 2012
Army procurement officials continue their hunt for a new procurement management system that is not customized and is in use elsewhere in the government, according to a sources-sought notice released Oct. 29.
“The Army’s goal is to minimize custom development of any possible future system,” Army officials wrote in the notice on Federal Business Opportunities website. The Army Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems is conducting the search for the Army Procurement EXecution (APEX) program. The notice provides information on what officials have gathered so far.
In its research, the Army has asked contractors how their systems work in conditions of low bandwidth and disconnected states, as the Army’s enterprise configuration includes expeditionary personnel. They also want to know how often each respondent updates their system, if the system is set to work in a continuity of operations, or COOP, environment, and the approach to exchanging data via compatible formats with other systems.
Army officials want a response to the questionnaire by Nov. 29. There is also a worksheet to fill out.
Since March, officials have screened potential systems for three main criteria:
- Deployable out of the box.
- Designed for the entire procurement process, from generating requirements to contract closeout.
- In use by another federal agency—civilian or defense.
The Army currently uses two contract writing systems: the Procurement Automated Data and Document System/Virtual Contracting Enterprise and the Standard Procurement System (SPS). They support about 8,000 users are 273 different locations.
In October 2011, the Defense Department’s then-acting director of procurement and acquisition policy, Frank Kendall, ordered defense agencies and departments to end the use of SPS. Kendall, now undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, wrote that SPS had become difficult to maintain and improve and is technologically fragile.
Furthermore, Kendall did not envision one contracting system for all of DOD. Instead he gave the individual departments license to find the “best value” for suiting their needs.
“Components should plan for the information technology to meet their mission needs,” he wrote.
Since then, Army officials have been talking to industry about new contract writing systems. They hosted industry events earlier this year, even two-hour live system and product demonstrations and briefings from contractors. Officials also tested companies’ systems capabilities by putting them through various scenarios.
To date though, nothing has been decided, officials wrote.
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.