Alpha Contracting Michelle McCoy July 25, 2011 William Salinas ACM 394 Introduction to Contract Management Alpha Contracting Alpha Contracting is defined as an acquisition process adopted to reduce the acquisition cyle time by replacing a serial process with a concurrent one, through government/contractor teaming without compromising the standard of a fair and reasonable price. This process involves the integration of the Program Manager/Acquisition Manager (PM/AM), the Contracting Officer, the Contractor, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), and various other field activities into a cohesive team.
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The normal process would be the government and the contractor working independently in developing their positions for the requirement. In Alpha Contracting, together they work to resolve their differences and misunderstandings to the maximum extents possible during the period of interaction. Available through the Department of Defense, Alpha Contracting is the single-source acquisition process that allows to stream-line the time from solicitation development to award. Procuring goods and/or services in an expedited manner at a fair and reasonable price is the goal.
The process begins with an approved acquisition plan and then a joint government/contractor team is formed. As the team works together to develop requirements, draft a model contract, conduct the audit, and find the right price, they may also find the need to redo the program baseline to improve performance, lower risk, or reduce cost. The model contract may be revised as technical and price issues are settled. After they have completed their tasks, the contracting officer collects all of their inputs and combines into one proposal or offer.
This is where the negotiation process begins with the government and contractor on opposing sides. Because of the open communication between the government, the client, and contractor, in the beginning of the process there is a mutual understanding of Statement of Work (SOW) requirements and a smooth transition from planning all the way to project completion. During the negotiation when concerns arise, each side would deliberate with different subject matter experts within their organizations for comments and backup support.
Until an agreement is reached and negotiations are brought to an end, the process repeats itself over and over. The down-side to that is this process is time-consuming, effort is being duplicated, and it can cause animosity between all parties involved, stalling negotiations or, even worse, failure. In an effort to speed up the cycle time and reduce duplication of efforts for a new acquisition, Alpha Contracting makes each of the party’s proposal or offer open for all to see. The organizations share information as they receive it instead of waiting on a complete proposal or offer to be developed.
An example of this would be for a subcontractor to submit their proposal to the prime contractor. Even if the prime has not completed their own proposal, they will share with the government the subcontractor’s information upon receipt. Both parties are able to start negotiations early on in the process, as the subcontractor’s effort s are audited and technical evaluations take place. This could potentially lead to a negotiated subcontractor’s effort being incorporated into the prime contractor’s proposal. That would complete the action before the government receives the prime’s complete proposal.
Normal contracting procedures are generally not as intense as Alpha Contracting, but having committed parties to the process drastically speeds up award of a new sole-source requirement and can create a collegial atmosphere of sharing information. The process of Alpha acquisition is labor intensive. For 50 percent of the time of the total contracting time the Integrated Product Team (IPT) will be away from their office. Therefore, before deciding to use the Alpha approach, the IPT leader must deal with some issues.
How will the work from any other program be taken care of while the IPT is out of the office? What should be looked at specifically before determining to use such a labor intensive method (i. e. , dollar threshold, higher level interest, funding jeopardy, degree of trust between the parties, etc. )? Could we use video teleconferencing rather than travel? Top Management Support In order for Alpha Contracting to be successful, there must be support from top management from both the contractor and the government.
It is helpful when each organization’s senior management can excuse their limited resources to be redirected from other important activities to make the Alpha Contracting process a top priority. Without a combination of leadership, top management support, management’s commitment to provide adequate sources to get the job done, the Alpha Contracting process could be disastrous. Trust In order for Alpha Contracting to be successful, the government and contractor must have trust in one another. There must be open and honest communication relative to their positions.
Also, there must be constant communication because each one is developing real-time positions and the success of the process is critical. The Alpha Contracting process will suffer set-backs if one side believes that the other is holding information that could be pertinent to the process. If there is not a good climate of trust between the government and the contractor, Alpha Contracting will fail. There should be straightforward conversations from day one and conveyed through negotiations to award and even post-award. Commitment and Focus
As discussed earlier, the intensity of effort Alpha Contracting is much more than the normal procurement process, but the amount of work involved is the same. The time it requires to complete the contracting process in its entirety is reduced significantly, but all required procedures must be accomplished. At all times, both sides should know what needs to be accomplished and when. The following is an example of this commitment. “…in our Alpha Contracting experience, the normal cycle time allotted was 120 working days from receipt of a qualified acquisition requirements package.
We completed the entire Alpha process in 26 calendar days and just 18 calendar days from the request for a proposal. During one weekend alone, our team averaged more than 30 hours in overtime per person to make the award happen quickly. “ This just goes to show that if all parties are not committed to make the process work efficiently and quickly, it will never work. Computer Resources Having computer resources to assist in developing and displaying information would be a great benefit to Alpha Contracting. One source noted that they administered most of their negotiations in a large conference room.
There was a computer network set up with several big screens surrounding the room, so that everyone could see what was being developed. Both teams had to opportunity to contribute their thoughts and, with this being in real time, could see the changes being implemented instantly. They developed a color-coded scheme so that everyone could see who had done what and at what time the changes had taken place. This allowed them to see who had contributed the corresponding information and they could see the entire document right before them.
This turned out to be great because it sped up the process, it was a great way to keep up with each organization’s input and everyone was able to share the same real-time information. In conclusion, Alpha Contracting is the best process for a sole-source acquisition to reduce cycle time. In order for it to work, there must be top leadership support, there must be trust on both sides with each other, and all involved must be committed 100 percent to the project. Computer resources could make a huge difference in knowing each side’s position and what matters have been resolved.
In some cases, if agreements could not be resolved within a few weeks, there would be no contract because the funds would have expired. Both sides would have failed and whomever the work was being done for, would have been let down. At all times both sides should be committed to not letting this happen. Alpha Contracting is all about teamwork. References Boyle, B. , Godin, S. , Heyward, E. , Rapka, R. A Successful Alpha Contracting Experience. Army AL&T (March 2006) Huffstetler, S. Comanche and “Alpha” Contracting. Army Aviation Modernization (October 2000) White, M. Acquisition Contracting Overview. Acquisition Reform Week