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NEWS | Feb. 22, 2018

JBSA-Fort Sam Houston contracting office focuses on customer communication, service

By Ryan Mattox Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs Office

The Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Sam Houston contracting office at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston uses communication techniques and customer service skills to focus on the acquisition process to ensure Soldiers have the tools they need to deploy, fight and win across the entire spectrum of combat.

The MICC-Fort Sam Houston staff concentrates on streamlining its contracting processes to speed the pace of contract awards, eliminate redundancies, increase efficiencies and drive down costs when matching a contractor with a customer's requirements.

When working with an Army unit, the staff assists customers with the development of their requirements by opening the lines of communication and challenging the status quo to ensure they are responsive to both the contractor's capabilities and meets the Army's needs during the acquisition process.

"We must define the problem and our requirements, and allow industry the flexibility to pursue cost-effective solutions. We create dynamic solutions that leverage the power of contracting to meet the needs of our mission partners," said Ray Harris, the MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office director. "If the contractor doesn't get what they need, then we don't get the support we need. We are a highly motivated professional contracting workforce that integrates and provides operational support to our customers."

During fiscal 2017, the MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office obligated a total of 1,233 actions valued at $434 million. The average award amount was $352,000. An increase of $43 million over the fiscal 2016 total of 1,237 actions valued at more than $390 million.

The staff develops solicitations by getting to know their customers through discussions when assisting them with the development of their requests and understanding of complex contracting issues.

"Our success comes from working as a team and communicating with our customers," Harris said. "We make acquisition decisions together as a team. When we help our customers, it helps us."

Another aspect of MICC-Fort Sam Houston is educating small businesses about the acquisition process.

Harris said early planning, customer comfort of complex contracts, and educating small business representatives on the acquisition process are all key to a successful contract award between our customer and the contractor.

During fiscal 2017, MICC-Fort Sam Houston staff partnered with the Society of American Military Engineers to develop a small business outreach program. The program allowed seasoned contracting officers to answer questions and explain the acquisition process to individuals representing small businesses throughout the country. The feedback from these events are used to develop future activities to gain a better understanding of each parties' role in the acquisition process.

Another area of focus for the contracting office is building support for its customers.

The MICC-Fort Sam Houston Installation Support Programs Division staff procures and manages contracts in support of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for installation management; Installation Management Command headquarters; Assistant Secretary of the Army for installations and environment; chief of chaplains under the vice chief of staff of the Army; Office of the Surgeon General under the chief of staff of the Army.

The division staff uses available technology to ensure the distance from supported activities is not a factor. The workload and customer base provides division personnel with opportunities to manage the acquisition processes and communicate with individuals of all levels, from contracting officer's representatives to unit commanders and members of the senior executive service.

"MICC-Fort Sam Houston continues to deliver and overcome challenges on some essential programs," said Carla Coulson, the director of installation services for the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for installation management. "Information technology support services are all critical to decision-making at the highest levels in our Army. The trust and relationships between our project managers and contracting officers have never been better."

The Mission Contracting Division staff procures and manages contracts to support Headquarters Medical Command, the Brooke Army Medical Center, Army Medical Department Center & School, U.S. Army North, Joint Task Force-North and 75th Battalion Command Training Division.

The MICC-Fort Sam Houston Contract Acquisition Support Division manages a $99 million personnel services contract to provide trained personnel and personal services necessary to perform acquisition support services to the Central Command Joint Theater Support Contracting Command.

Harris encourages his staff to know the customer's needs first. Under the CENTCOM Joint Theater Support Contracting Command contract, the team found an innovative way to expand the scope of the contract to include the information technology specialist, industrial management specialist and quality assurance specialist labor categories. This change gave increased capability to in-theater commanders 10 months early, creating a tremendous force multiplier for in-theater commanders in critical high-demand and low-density areas.

MICC-Fort Sam Houston's Reserve Support Division also works to build strong relationships with its customers to improve business practices and mission support.

"The working relationship between the Army Reserve Command headquarters and MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office has greatly improved," Harris said. "We secured a personal commitment from a senior executive service member to manage acquisition planning and hold project managers more accountable for content, completeness and timely submittal of requirements packages."

Working together helps these two partners to overcome package deficiencies, late submissions of acquisition packages and deliver timely critical support.

In the past, they have worked on 224 actions valued at $152 million supporting the USARC headquarters, Office of the Chief of Army Reserve and five different Reserve support centers. The relationship has helped to avert shutdowns of service that would affect 1,800 Soldiers in the performance of their duties. Additionally, they have worked numerous other actions together, such as child youth school program services, which ensure the quality of life, total well-being and healthy development of Reserve Soldiers' children, and provide quality-of-life programs in support of Soldiers, families and civilians.

"These are critical services impact that the quality of life and productivity of our soldiers and have had far-reaching impacts on the mission," Harris said.

The business operations quality assurance team provides quality assurance support on more than 400 active contracts for customers daily.

"The quality assurance staff did nothing but spent time with our staff and worked real hard on addressing our concerns and hard questions," said Lt. Col. Jeff Etienne, director of the contract administration support office at the USARC headquarters. "The information and resources they provide are invaluable."

The MICC is made up of about 1,500 military and civilian members across the United States and Puerto Rico who are responsible for contracting good and services in support of Soldiers' readiness.

The MICC also is responsible for readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, preparing more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintain more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.