Profiles in Excellence: The Freedom to Achieve

Diane McCoy Award for Excellence in Acquisition

Although DISA’s reputation is for technology, there is nothing technical about its mission: to provide unparalleled excellence in support of the warfighter. Twenty eight awards were recently presented at the 2012 DISA Annual Awards Ceremony to honor the work of DISA’s innovators.

The winners of this year’s awards leverage their skills as collaborators as well as their technical their collaborative and technical expertise to fundamentally change the way DISA supports the mission.

The Freedom to Achieve
Diane McCoy Award for Excellence in Acquisition
Jim Travis, GIG Services Management Acquisition (GSM)

TravisIt started with one assumption: battlefield requirements have changed. From there, Jim Travis and Kathy Tullock worked to lead DISA’s efforts to replace expiring contracts with modern, performance-based contracts. The goals were to improve the quality of contractor work, reduce the immediate burden on contracting personnel, maximize opportunities for small businesses and meet the needs of the battlefield for faster service delivery, higher reliability, and higher availability. It was all made possible with one innovation: giving the contractor more freedom to achieve success.

“What we’ve done differently is instead of having four different vendors splitting the work, we can give the operational body of work over to a single vendor to apply efficiencies while allowing the rest of the work to be competed for by highly qualified small businesses,” Travis explained. The model provided the basis for the three GSM contracts that form the backbone of DISA’s new IDIQ contracts, two of which, Travis noted, are aimed at maximizing opportunities for small businesses.

GSM will have three parts to the procurement:

• GSM Operations – The largest of the three awards, GSM-O is a full-and-open single-award competition, with a three-year base plus two two-year options worth about $4.6 billion.
• GSM Engineering, Transition and Implementation – GSM-ETI is a small-business set-aside award that is open to multiple awards.
• GSM Projects and Support – GSM-P&S also is a small-business set-aside award that is a component of the Alliant Small Business governmentwide acquisition contract vehicle.

Vendors are now empowered to move their work back from overseas to wherever things can be done cheapest and most efficiently, while the government maintains ownership of the key components. To provide this kind of freedom, however, Travis-Tullock team had to surmount one major hurdle: culture. “The challenge we must overcome is that there are some aspects of the vendor’s work that the government doesn’t get to decide anymore – that’s the vendor’s job to do now,” he said and provide for more commercial best practices to be applied to the government work place. The government focuses on the what – the vendor figures out how.

“We built these contracts to support the DoD enterprise, and we believe this will provide new and better ways of operating.”
James Travis, Program Manager, Defiense Information Systems Network, and Program Manager/Team Lead, Global Information Grid (GIG) Services Management Acquisition (GSM), Defense Information Systems Agency

Collaboration and coordination were the watchwords throughout the process. The Travis-Tullock team used DoD’s collaboration tools and process to share the effort with as many stakeholders as possible, and to incorporate their concerns directly into the structure. “With a project of this size and scope and magnitude, there’s wisdom in the crowd,” Travis said.

A major question on everyone’s mind was how to ensure that vendors performed to spec – and even above. “The greatest weakness of current contracts is we don’t have great performance metrics to hold vendors accountable,” Travis explained. Leveraging his own team’s experiences and the input of contracting officers as well as industry, the Travis-Tullock team honed the metrics down to forty critical measures and earned the Dianne McCoy Award for Excellence in Acquisition.

In the end, it’s the performance resulting from these measures – and the flexibility and freedom the new contracts will provide – that will deliver the greatest results to the warfighter. “The warfighter benefits from transparent standards that people can be accountable for,” Travis said. “We built this these contracts to support the DoD enterprise, and we believe this will provide new and better ways of operating.”

About this Report

This report was commissioned by the Content Solutions unit, an independent editorial arm of 1105 Government Information Group. Specific topics are chosen in response to interest from the vendor community; however, sponsors are not guaranteed content contribution or review of content before publication. For more information about 1105 Government Information Group Content Solutions, please email us at [email protected]