Enforcing change often takes time—especially where the government is involved.
For the hands behind the only Advanced Medium Range-Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production, time is something they can’t afford to lose if they hope to maintain a competitive advantage. This was the challenge the program recently faced when negotiating a contract for Lot 32. During an effort to insert a new variant of the AMRAAM missile into the field, which included a redesign of subsystems and replacement of electronic chips, obtaining the necessary funds without sacrificing too much lead time quickly became a challenge.
“Our job, as acquisition leaders, is to stay ahead of the game,” AMRAAM Program Manager, Colonel Brian Henson said.
“We needed a way to execute the AMRAAM production Lot 32 faster and more efficiently,” AMRAAM Lot 32 Production and Contracting Officer Jeff Mixson explained. “The DoD Sole Source Streamlining (SSS) Toolbox is a point-and-click interface that allows […] anyone involved in the acquisition process to streamline procurement action lead time without sacrificing quality or the art of the deal.”
Because of the similarities between Lots 31 and 32—same number of missiles, same type of variant, hardware and suppliers—the Lot 32 production team, by utilizing the previously analyzed data tool from the SSS Toolbox, were essentially able to skip an entire step of the process. This allowed the team to reduce the procurement action lead time by an estimated eight months, and their man time by about 3,000 hours—all while maintaining the competitive advantage.
“Success for us […] was the fact that we were able to get the contract awarded for us,” Col. Henson said. “Over six hundred missiles—within three months from the previous lot, rather than a year to a year and a half … That’s a year earlier we were able to focus on the next contract, which goes into also missiles being delivered earlier.”
Ultimately, the SSS Toolbox is intended to help acquisition specialists increase efficiency throughout the acquisition process. Of the 40 techniques offered by the SSS Toolbox, the team used techniques 3.5 and 3.7 during their evaluation of the Lot 32 proposal. The first of these techniques considers materiality and risks the government and program office is willing to take by conducting a top-level analysis of the Lot 32 proposal, while the latter streamlines cost analysis.
“The bottom line is: this tool box is there for a reason,” Mixson said. “Utilize it, utilize the techniques, understand your situation, make a case and present it to leadership and you will typically get a yes answer.
According to Col. Henson, “You can always challenge the status quo if you have a good reason.”
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