DOD system tracks A-76 progress

The Pentagon is expanding the use of a new Web-based system that Defense Department agencies can use to track the progress of ongoing public-private competitions for defense jobs.

DOD's Commercial Activities Management Information System (CAMIS) will help all military services and department agencies keep track of what will likely be an increase of Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 competitions as the Bush administration encourages more of what it calls "competitive sourcing."

Because of the high interest in A-76 competitions, DOD officials are frequently asked to file progress reports to the Pentagon, OMB and Congress. In the past, the officials have had to work with information that could be months old because the existing system was updated quarterly.

Because CAMIS is Web-based, however, it will be updated as soon as the information is in, making it possible for agency officials to access data on A-76 studies anywhere in DOD.

A-76 outlines how the public and private sectors should compete to perform commercial-like government functions. A revised circular is due out within a month.

Users have completed training, received security clearances and finished entering legacy data into the system, said Lorna Delay, senior program manager in the Office of the Secretary of Defense's office for competitive sourcing and privatization.

Now the focus is on auditing the data being entered into the relational database, which already includes more than 1,800 records, to ensure that it is accurate, she said. The audit should be finished by the end of this month.

Already, the new system is an improvement. "Before, there was an access system that was updated on a quarterly basis and that was problematic because it wasn't real-time data," Delay said. Between January and April 11, the system counted 10,924 log-ons and new records are added every day, she said.

CAMIS began in the Army as the Commercial Activities Study Tracking System, but the need for a DOD-wide system was quickly obvious, said Bill Mattfeld, project manager for CAMIS at Calibre Systems Inc., which has been working on it since January 2001. A significant redesign was completed by [in?] December 2001 and CAMIS has been further refined during the past year.

Congress required the Pentagon to have a system to track the execution of A-76 competitions and a Web-based system was the obvious choice, said Ariane Whittemore, assistant deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics.

"Web-based systems are the only way to go," Whittemore said. "The Navy is Web-enabling everything because the young folks we're bringing on, that is their culture."

Still, the system doesn't necessarily make the A-76 process easier. Annie Andrews, the Pentagon's assistant director for competitive sourcing and privatization, acknowledged that both government and industry have legitimate complaints.

"Both the public and private side think A-76 is not fair and they're probably right," she said April 11 at a workforce conference sponsored by Women In Defense in Tysons Corner, Va. "A-76 is an adversarial process," that pits profits vs. job security.

Nevertheless, Andrews said she advocates A-76 because it results in 30 percent to 50 percent cost savings and 34 percent manpower reductions regardless of who wins.

However, significant problems facing the federal government include a lack of trained personnel who understand the A-76 process and a lack of standardization among training programs, Andrews said.

"We're [working] with the Defense Acquisition University to get certification for A-76 training, and once we do that, consultants can market themselves more effectively and DOD users will get better training," she said.


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