Air Force acquisition success measured by customer success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Cedric Wilson
  • 42nd Contracting Squadron commander
In the 42nd Contracting Squadron our goal is to exceed our customers' expectations and their mission requirements. We are making massive strides in reaching our goal, however, in order to continue making these great strides we need "you," our customer, to assist in two very important areas.

First, obtain contacting assistance early in the planning process and second, let us assist you in developing a well define performance-based objective.

The 42nd Contracting Squadron is just a phone call away. Our early involvement in the planning process will increase our understanding and ability to assist in the development of a well defined requirement and facilitate communication regarding your requirement ... enhancing mission accomplishment.

When the 42nd Contracting Squadron is involved early, we have ample time to plan the most effective acquisition strategy, and determine the best contracting method to ensure the most advantageous contractor is selected to meet your needs. In addition, we can bring a wealth of risk-based acquisition strategies to the table and contracting lessons learned.

By working with the 42nd Contracting Squadron early and allowing us to assist in properly developing a well define requirement, we are able to improve the acquisition process and increase the likelihood of exceeding our customers' expectations.

In addition, our early involvement helps to minimize post-award problems, such as protests, out of scope modifications, terminations, and other administration related issues. We can help customers identify more capable contractors, provide better visibility on performance risk, and develop more effective solicitations.

Finally, early involvement is not only the cornerstone of a successful acquisition process, but the best way to ensure a successfully contract award. Something as simple as early involvement can pay tremendous dividends in timely contract award and post contract support; providing a more effective tool for the customer to reach their objectives.

The key to using the performance-based approach is describing requirements as outcomes and not in terms of how to accomplish the requirement. Therefore, a performance based work statement must be carefully structured to ensure that the requirement is articulated in this manner.

The performance-based approach should focus on specific work outcomes and ensure that they are measurable to the greatest extent practicable and the description should be written in a manner that will promote competition to the greatest extent possible. It sounds complicated but the 42nd Contracting Squadron is here to help every step of the way.

We understand that some requirements are critical and essential to the mission while others are desirable targets or objectives. Our job is to help you articulate the differences between these two categories; this should be made clear in the description of your product or service requirement.

Restrictive provisions and features unique to specific products in the market should be avoided and used only when they are absolutely essential. A few things that may help you when developing your performance-based requirements are: try not to make any performance objective unduly burdensome or restrictive; remember that restrictive performance objectives are often pricey and may result in lengthy delivery dates; and remember that performance-based requirements can be done in two easy steps.

The first step is to define your desired outcomes. Ask yourself the question, "What must be accomplished to satisfy this requirement?" List what needs to be accomplished in order to satisfy the overall requirement, from a top-level perspective. The goal here is to determine all dependent variables such as what, when, where, quantity and quality levels. This will ensure that all unique requirements have been considered.

The second step is to identify performance objectives. Ask yourself the question, "What tasks must be accomplished to achieve the desired outcomes?" Here, we need to identify specific performance objectives for those desired outcomes defined in step 1. Performance objectives are specific services that you want performed and delivered by the contractor, defined in terms of outcomes. The goal here is to describe adequately what is expected in accomplishing the requirement but not how to accomplish it.

The 42nd Contracting Squadron stands ready to assist with your efforts to develop performance-based requirements through market research, public meetings, and draft solicitations. Also, industry comments and suggestions concerning commercial standards may be obtained, as necessary to enhance performance objectives and incentives. There is nothing more important in the acquisition process than involving contracting early and providing a well-defined requirement.

This process starts with a phone call to the 42nd Contracting Squadron.