Army Contracting Command easing burden on contracting officers

Thursday - 9/6/2012, 8:32pm EDT

Gino Magnifico, CIO, Army Contracting Command

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Army Contracting Command is helping to lead an effort to modernize the service's contract writing system.

This is more than just a technology refresh. It's about improving the functionality of the existing contract writing tools that many contracting officers use every day.

"A lot of our contract writing applications are supporting architectures that are 8-to-10 years old, which is a lifetime in the technology business," said Gino Magnifico, the Army Contracting Command's chief information officer. "One of things that we are looking at as a structure, not just across the Army but all of DoD, is how do we upgrade our capabilities in contracting writing areas and get applications that are really more modernized, that reflect architectures, that work really well in these different environments, everything from sustainment to these thin solutions to these communication satellite requirements that we really try to leverage in this command."

Magnifico said the ACC is leading an effort to conduct an analysis of alternatives within the Army to figure out the requirements for the future contracting writing tools.

"We've been working that over the last six or eight months along with our deputy assistant secretary for procurement, their team and other commands across the Army to really look out not only within the Army and DoD, but across industry as well to see what applications exist, what capabilities exist and how best to leverage that in our acquisition planning processes," he said. "We've just about finished that up. We'll transition out of the analysis of alternatives and into more of an acquisition based process."

Magnifico said he's unsure if and when a request for proposals would be released.

Beyond the contract writing system, ACC wants to implement new business intelligence tools to help internal and external customers make better decisions using data.

"A lot of our requiring activities would appreciate having a more direct knowledge and insight of the contracts we generate for them as an organization and so giving them that kind of transparency really helps them evaluate where they are at any point in time in the acquisition process down to specific RFQ, RFP or contract," he said. "It's a real benefit tool for them to execute and understand that data in their own way. We are working with these organizations on how do we automate that process? We generate a lot of data. They evaluate a lot of data. How do we streamline that data to give them the best insights possible?"

Magnifico said ACC is developing customer dashboards to give them that insight, and makes the command more efficient.

These tools and data are most important to the Army buyers in the fourth quarter when a majority of the money must be spent.

The Army Contracting Command created working groups to present a united capability for the last three months of the year.

"Bringing everyone together, partnering on those processes and establishing those process teams allows us to become more efficient as a business enterprise and as a command in working with our partners on the logistical side and the financial side," he said. "That's one key tool we've used to really engage ourselves and work those day-to-day issues that fall out of the process. There isn't a whole lot of time to absorb and engage those processes [in the fourth quarter]."

Magnifico said the biggest change this year for the fourth quarter buying season is the integration with the Army's General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS).

GFEBS is the Army's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that standardizes business processes across the service and its components and facilitates real-time visibility of transactions and historical data.

"If you look at it from an end-to-end process, every fiscal year presents its different challenges because generally speaking we have a very dynamic business infrastructure across DoD and the Army and as such our partners may bring on different capabilities, we may bring on different capabilities, but when it gets to year end everyone has to partner together to be able to work whatever new applications or process or new statutory requirement is brought onto the platform," he said.

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