Last April, I blogged about the then recently published U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Directors’ Policy Memorandum (DPM) 2020-02 on procedures for the selection of task orders on Architect-Engineer Indefinite Delivery Contracts (IDCs). This memorandum is applicable to all USACE task order selections on multiple award architecture-engineer IDCs. In that blog, I mentioned several positive aspects of this DPM including:
- Limiting the scope of single award task order contracts (SATOCs) and preventing overlapping and competing SATOCs;
- Limiting overly broad IDC scopes;
- Requiring notification of all contract holders of an opportunity;
- Recommending keeping the response to the Task Order Requirement Notice (TORN) fairly brief—three pages or less;
- Recommending a five-day turnaround; and
- Not requiring firms to provide additional information if they so desire.
Since that blog, I’ve personally worked on 16 TORN responses to four separate USACE Districts. Additionally, as chair of the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) Federal Agency Procurement Advocacy (FAPA) Committee, I’ve closely watched the implementation of this DPM across USACE. Our FAPA committee observations included a membership survey on the DPM implementation in June of 2020. Those observations indicated that the process was 1) not being followed uniformly or consistently across Districts, 2) was far more laborious than the Corps expected it would be, and 3) was being treated as mandatory for all task orders no matter how simple or small.
Working with USACE
In response to these concerns, in November 2020 USACE formed a “Tiger Team” led by John (Jake) Jacobson, the Executive Director of USACE Contracting. This team includes government representatives from: USACE Contracting, USACE Military Programs, USACE Office of Counsel and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement). The Tiger Team also includes industry representatives from ACEC and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). I am honored to be the ACEC Representative on the Tiger Team.
Our Tiger Team met several times and developed five focus areas that we believe will improve the process for both Industry and USACE. Specifically:
- The Task Order Requirement Notification process should continue. Both Industry and the Government agree it is beneficial for all parties to know that the Government has a new requirement (task) that they want to select (order) a contractor to accomplish.
- The Government will notify the contractors on the MATOC if the acquisition process is taking longer than normal and give an explanation as to why this is the case. Both Industry and the Government agree it is beneficial for all parties to keep everyone informed on the status of any ongoing acquisition. The District/Center will establish a timeline for each A&E acquisition. The timeline should be realistic. The District/Center will place the schedule for selection and award within the TORN.
- The Government will notify all contractors when they select the most qualified firm and when they award a Task Order.
- The Government will inform the contractors when they have sufficient information (such as SF330 and other information) to determine which is the most qualified firm to accomplish the work, and permit contractors to submit additional relevant information if they choose. The contractor will have five days to submit additional information in response to the TORN.
- The Government and Industry will educate all those involved in the acquisition process on how we determine who is the most qualified, including what information is needed to make this determination.
USACE is in the process of developing, staffing, and finalizing an amendment to their DPM incorporating the five focus areas listed above. Additionally, we’ve scheduled and begun to execute a series of virtual meetings to discuss the policy and the focus areas, which started with an ACEC Webinar on February 26th, 2021. Other scheduled engagements include an Executive Session at the SAME Capital Week on March 23rd, 2021 at 1:00 pm ET, and a session at SAME Atlanta Industry-Government Engagement Event on April 22nd, 2021. USACE is also planning internal training as they roll out the policy amendment.
By far the greatest benefit of the Tiger Team has been increased communication and engagement between Government and Industry. Did we achieve a perfect policy with our five points? No; as demonstrated by the many excellent questions we received during last week’s webinar, there are still many details to iron out. However, we have made significant progress and put in place a process for working together to train, educate and solve issues.