Masiello talks pricing, LPTA and long-term contracts

Wendy Masiello

Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello said the Air Force is working with its suppliers to better manage subcontracting costs.

The Air Force has its eye on subcontractors as it seeks to trim acquisition costs, Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello, the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for contracting, told the audience at an AFCEA event on April 18.

Subcontractors account for 60 percent to 70 percent of costs in larger contracts, which has Masiello's Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition thinking about how it can economize further down the supply chain, she said. The office is working with the Defense Contract Audit Agency and suppliers to be more forthcoming about project costs while reassuring clients that their information is kept confidential from competitors, she told FCW after her speech.

"We'll have to triage it because many of our clients have a lot of suppliers, so we'll have to manage that carefully," she said. "But it's really part of our due diligence" of providing clarity on the cost of contracts.

Suppliers are cooperating and offering close to the complete picture of cost information the office is requesting, she added. "People are still getting used to this next layer of detail, but we'll get going."

Shorter project cycles and shrinking proposal costs are enduring but surmountable obstacles in acquisition, Masiello said in her speech. Defense contractors are responding to those constraints by divesting portions of their business and improving the quality of contract proposals, among other things, she said. The prevalence of three- or five-year projects does not rule out longer ones, and even in tight fiscal times, her office decides on contracts based on need.

So although lowest price, technically acceptable contracts have their place in the office's acquisition strategy, they are "not our tool of choice," Masiello said.

She was recently nominated to be director of the Defense Contract Management Agency, and Brig. Gen. Casey Blake is slated to take her place. Her April 18 remarks, however, were given in her current Air Force-only capacity.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.

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Reader comments

Mon, Apr 21, 2014

If a Govt requirement is so uncomplicated and definable that it lends itself to be a LC/TA contract, why not just specify the the requirement in detail and bid it out as a FAR Part 14 IFB and eliminate the hassle and expense of a source selection? Just put out a bid box and compare numbers in sealed envelops. Lowest number wins!

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