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NEWS | July 2, 2021

MICC responsive to urgent Army Futures Command contract needs

By Daniel P. Elkins Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs

The accelerated research and responsive mission partner support efforts to procure 200 software licenses in a span of a week by contracting professionals at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in June is sustaining secure collaboration capabilities in a nontraditional network environment for the Army Software Factory.

Army Futures Command officials in Austin, Texas, reached out to the Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Fort Sam Houston contracting office June 7 with the urgent need for the software requirement after exhausting other procurement vehicles and outreach for recommendations.

Prompting the need for the software was the service’s migration to Army 365 on June 15 which proved problematic for the Army Software Factory’s unique, collaborative nature with its 26,000-plus workforce across the Army, industry, science and academia.

AFC officials announced the establishment of the Soldier-led Software Factory in 2020, which celebrated its grand opening in April 2021 at Austin Community College.

“The guiding principle of the Army Software Factory is to operate ‘by Soldiers, for Soldiers,’” said Maj. Vito Errico, the Army Software Factory co-director. “The sunset of commercially available Microsoft Teams across the Army meant that the Army Software Factory would need a new way to reach its users and collaborate across a wide variety of stakeholders in the Army, academia and industry. By teaming with the MICC’s proactive and responsive team, the Software Factory was able to continue uninterrupted operations without costly program delays and risks to user engagement across the Army.”

Patrick Morse, the director of contracting for Army Futures Command, explained the Army Software Factory is an integrated software development initiative to teach, develop and employ self-sustaining talent from all ranks within the military and civilian workforce.

“Building digital proficiency across the Army will enable Soldiers and civilians to solve Army problems, develop cutting-edge applications for current and future systems, and better prepare for disconnected warfare in 2028 and beyond,” Morse said.

MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting officer Stephen Noethen, chief of its mission division, and contract specialist Colleen Rye immediately took steps in an integrated approach to begin conducting market research and exploring the procurement options for the new software requirement. The contract called for the installation of Assured Control with quickstart for the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus in support of the Army Software Factory.

“I scheduled a meeting first thing to discuss specifics of the requirement and brainstorm on how we could get it done within the time frame allotted,” Rye said. “We were only able to get it completed due to open communication between the players at MICC-Fort Sam Houston and Army Futures Command.”

The firm fixed price small business contract was awarded June 14 to SADA Systems Inc. and ATX Defense at a cost of $158,250 for a performance period of one year.

“This critical initiative and projects underway within the Army Software Factory would have come to a halt if not for the expertise and dedication to mission demonstrated by Stephen Noethen, Colleen Rye and the fantastic team at MICC-Fort Sam Houston,” Morse said. “MICC-Fort Sam Houston was able to execute a contract … in only four business days, enabling continued operations and secure access to key applications.”

In the course of the days following notification of the software requirement, Rye said a flurry of Microsoft Teams messages and emails was accomplished to gather the necessary information and documents requiring updates, corrections and signatures. Simultaneously, Noethen worked closely with MICC attorney Mike Langham and small business professional Deanna Ochoa to ensure the integrity of each step of the procurement process.

“Their assistance was instrumental, and we could not have completed it without them,” Rye added.

Noethen said the exceptional teamwork with the MICC Office of Counsel and MICC Office of Small Business Programs demonstrated the rapid execution of a mission-critical requirement by collaborating quickly and efficiently and pulling all the stakeholders together for a viable and legal solution to support the needs of Army Forces Command.

“This teamwork demonstrated ‘out of the box’ thinking and demonstrated that MICC-Fort Sam Houston can rise to the challenge of solving complex contracting problems in rapid fashion,” Noethen said.

Army Futures Command is responsible for leading the transformation of Army modernization to provide future warfighters with the concepts, capabilities and organizational structures needed to dominate a future battlefield.

Officials with AFC and Army Software Factory attempted to procure the software through the Army Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software and Solutions, or CHESS, as well as seek recommended authorized resellers from DOD partners including the Defense Innovation Unit, Army Applications Lab and members of various Air Force software factories currently leveraging a different Google product, and Google itself.

After all reasonable attempts, AFC officials turned to the MICC for a brand-name software solution.