Addressing the top 100 industry representatives out of more than 6,000 attending Modern Day Marine in September 2010, officials from Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) and Program Executive Officer Land Systems (PEO LS) talked about changes and what to expect in the world of Marine Corps acquisition.
The three-day exposition was sponsored by the Marine Corps League and co-sponsored by Marine Corps Base Quantico and MCSC. MCSC, PEO LS and other commands on Quantico are responsible for setting requirements, developing equipment and systems, and purchasing the equipment and systems the Marine Corps will rely on in the years to come. Modern Day Marine connects those who manufacture the equipment and systems with those responsible for acquiring such items. The annual event has become the premier military equipment, systems, services and technology exposition for the Corps, and the Marine acquisition leadership spoke during the expo’s Report to Industry event.
“There’s a lot of change in our community taking place right now,” said Dr. John Burrow, MCSC’s Executive Director. “To help the Marine Corps build the capabilities we need, we have to make sure they’re effective and affordable for us in the future.”
To put MCSC’s acquisition role in perspective, he noted that in fiscal year 2010 the Command awarded more than 6,000 contracts worth more than $7 billion. Of those, 2,000 were small-business contracts. MCSC also fielded more than 6,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles and 2,000 MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles to the Central Command area of operations.
Those and other large numbers are only part of the acquisition story, according to Burrow. Rising to the top of the list of Marine Corps and industry attention is the growing Department of Defense push for greater energy savings and efficiency.
“Energy and efficiencies will be the key drivers for us in the future, and we need your help to get to where we need to be,” the Executive Director said. “Another big accomplishment is that we awarded a continuity of service contract to start our transition out of NMCI [Navy-Marine Corps Internet]. That was in partnership with PEO for Enterprise Information Systems. Following up, we have initiated early transition activities that will allow us, once we make the transition to the continuity of service contract, to lay a path forward for the Marine Corps and Navy as we start to transition to the Next-Generation Enterprise Network.
“We also made some significant accomplishments in our responsibility of equipping the MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force],” he said. “That includes vehicles, sensors, command and control equipment, and communications.”
For these and other programs, Dr. Burrow added, “every one of our product groups was successful in significant deliveries throughout the year.”
Transition, however, is in the works. “Last year we had a great focus on OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] and OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom],” the Executive Director said. “Our focus now is OEF. We were pushing a lot of equipment out; now, we have a lot of equipment inbound. We’re working with LOGCOM [Logistics Command] and others to figure out the next step as we move forward in modernization, sustainment and readiness of our fleet.
“We’re going to continue to partner with industry but with a greater emphasis in the early phases of how we develop our acquisition strategies,” he said. “But don’t just think about the early stages; think about the total life cycle. Also, think about systems engineering. Look at how the capability you propose could possibly eliminate other systems that we have. Help us drive down the cost; help us drive down the configurations. Help us come up with solutions that feed the entire MAGTF’s capability.”
For his part Mr. William Taylor, PEO LS, talked about “Managing Programs During Troubled Times: The New Norm.” Unachievable requirements, he said, “have led to funding instability and poor cost estimating. Poor cost estimating is one that I took to heart when I first came here, and I believe that we’ve made significant inroads in that regard.”
He cautioned industry partners not to count on long-term commitments. “Even if you were awarded a production contract, do not assume that’s for the life of the program,” Taylor said. “If it doesn’t have a Program Development Plan as part of your proposal, there’s probably a target ahead to essentially recomplete.”
Fifty percent of defense spending is associated not with procurement of hardware but with service contracts, according to the PEO.
“Wherein there has always been a lot of discipline, process and guidance associated with procurement of hardware,” Mr. Taylor said. “It’s been pretty much the Wild West with respect to guidance for service contracts. That will change, and that will be very important for you to understand. We need to reduce non-value-added processes and documents in the overall acquisition process.”
Active and fair competition is the goal, Dr. Burrow explained.
“How can you be in a position to compete?” he asked. “Look on the horizon. Be prepared when requests for proposals go out. Be prepared with your technology maturation and anything else that allows you to compete better.”
He cited the newly created brochure explaining how industry representatives can do business with the MCSC and PEO LS. The brochure provides points of contact information in every area including technology, opportunities and who to talk to.
“Be engaged,” the Executive Director said. “Although the fiscal environment may be challenging, that gives you more opportunity to compete and win and help us deliver the capabilities we need for the Marine Corps. There are a lot of opportunities for us to do some great things in the future."