ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
It’s no secret, and will not surprise any AEDC employee, past or present, that the majority of AEDC’s workforce are contractors, approximately 75 percent contractors in fact. The mission of AEDC cannot happen without our contractor workforce. As a result, expert contract management is critical for AEDC. The teams of government personnel responsible to manage AEDC’s contracts are challenged to ensure the contracts effectively meet mission requirements while also ensuring taxpayers are getting the best possible value. Program Managers do not accomplish this alone; each contract requires a team to acquire, execute, manage and assess contractor performance from acquisition through close-out. This team is the Multi-Functional Team or MFT.
In Jan 2014, I was working in the Test Division as the Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, a job I enjoyed and one that placed me, albeit only peripherally, at the “tip-of-the-spear” as they say. I was involved in multiple aspects of Test Operations and got to see up close much of the incredible work being accomplished by AEDC teammates to support the War Fighter – something that, as an Air Force retiree remains important to me, besides the work is just really cool. I was content in my role when I was asked to serve on THE Source Selection Team. I should note that “THE” is not in all caps by accident, it is capitalized as a statement because the 2014-2016 source selection was a monumental effort that resulted in historic change to AEDC operations. This effort moved AEDC from one monolithic service contract to six while utilizing Enterprise Solutions and Firm-Fixed-Price contracts, new challenges for AEDC.
I served as a member of the Source Selection MFT as a technical team member for three years. Per AFI 63-138, Acquisition of Services, “The success or failure of a services acquisition rests on the strength of the MFT. The emphasis of the MFT is on teamwork, trust, and agility in order to fully meet mission requirements.” Based on my experience as a MFT member on “THE” AEDC Source Selection Team, I can tell you this is absolutely true.
MFT members serve closely with an array of professionals that you likely have not worked with, at least not in any significant capacity. These teams have representatives from all stakeholders involved in the effort, to include the Program Manager (PM), Mission Owner, Contracting Officer, Quality Assurance Program Coordinator (QAPC), Contracting Officer Representatives (COR), Legal Advisor, Finance, Safety and Small Business Representatives. Serving on such an eclectic team can be an incredible opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding of how each unique specialty contributes to overall mission success. Additionally, you will experience the inevitable team comradery that comes when you have a handpicked group focused on a single purpose. For the majority of people the most likely opportunity to serve as a MFT member will be as a technical team member or subject matter expert/COR. Members who serve as a COR have a unique opportunity to continue this duty into contract execution. The value of having the same team member that helped write contract requirements continue as a COR during the contract execution phase to assess contractor performance cannot be overstated; this should always be the goal and I considered it a best-practice.
The responsibilities of the MFT are many and include conducting market research, developing contract requirements (primarily the Performance Work Statement (PWS)), developing and executing a performance-based acquisition strategy, developing the government’s surveillance approach in the Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP), promptly notifying senior leadership of significant variances in cost, schedule, or contractor performance, actively participating in all pre-award activities, and if appointed, assess contractor performance, to include submitting annual Contractor Performance Assessment Reviews, managing the services acquisition and contract performance throughout the life of the requirement.
Before you ask, “Where do I sign up?” a word of caution. Serving as a MFT member is not for the faint-hearted, the work is challenging. But, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” When the job is done, you will undoubtedly feel a professionally satisfying sense of accomplishment, and to be honest the next acquisition team needs you – AEDC needs you!
Based on my experience, I can attest that the reason “THE” AEDC Source Selection was so successful can be attributed to the hardworking, dedicated people that were called upon to serve as a member of the MFT (with a little Senior Leadership guidance thrown in for good measure). Speaking for myself, serving on “THE” AEDC Source Selection, was a good opportunity that I’m convinced improved my ability to serve AEDC. I encourage anyone interested to seek this opportunity and answer the call if asked to serve – you won’t regret it!