WASHINGTON HEADQUARTERS SERVICES
The RE&F Contracting and Acquisition Reform Process Action Team made two recommendations that have dramatically affected the use of credit cards and have dramatically affected the workload of RE&F's contracting personnel. These recommendations are:
- If a credit card is not used for a procurement, a signed explanation is required on the
- The use of credit cards has been expanded to include purchases up to $2,500 made
directly by the program officers.
The implementation of this program has produced significant benefits to the organization such as:
- Reducing paperwork: the number of purchase orders, file volume, etc.;
- Promoting employee empowerment as users interact directly with the vendors;
- Reducing administrative and processing time;
- Eliminating late payments to vendors and interest payment penalties;
- Consolidating billing for accounting, oversight and simplified tracking;
- Expanding vendor base, increasing competition and lowering prices;
- Reducing turnaround time for product delivery; and
- Minimizing training necessary for micropurchasers.
Since micropurchases represent approximately 70% of the workload, substantial savings have been realized, resulting in an estimated cost avoidance of $441,000 for FY 95. Projected administrative savings for FY 96 are estimated at $1,600,000. Moving the micropurchase capability to program offices has enabled contracting personnel in procurement offices to focus on larger acquisitions, more effectively serving the customer. RE&F has been innovative in using the credit card as a payment mechanism for larger contracts awarded up to the simplified acquisition threshold.
The implementation of this innovative expansion government-wide offers the opportunity to significantly reduce administrative costs while increasing operational efficiency. In addition, the change is customer oriented providing quicker delivery of supplies or services, entrusting them to buy exactly what they need and enabling them to fulfill their own basic requirements without encountering multiple levels of bureaucracy.
- The ICD formed a cross-functional team and, using on-line searches of legislation,
identified 633 Congressionally-mandated reports.
- The reports were placed into a database and appropriately distributed to the DoD
Components (Military Departments, Defense Agencies, DoD Field Activities, Principal Staff Assistants, etc.) for review. The Components verified their own data needs and then checked the block to "cancel" or "retain" the report.
The review resulted in recommending 79 reports for cancellation at a cost savings estimated at $1 million a year. In addition, the database is easily accessed and updated as legislation is passed and repealed.
The Team acquired books on the subject, learned the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) syntax and protocols, set up a test server, extracted data from data bases, and implemented a prototype World Wide Web site. They made maximum use of the information technology hardware and software available to them. Content was fleshed out and a standard user interface was provided to all of the home pages and data throughout the system.
Typically, implementation of a project of this type takes six months to a year and involves a Requirements Analysis, an Analysis of Alternatives, followed by a Statement of Work, Request for Proposals, proposal evaluations and a contract. After contract award, the period of performance would be about six months, involving a project manager, a Government contract administrator, a documenter, six monthly reports, and HTML programming. A Government cost estimate of this effort would be about 1,040 hours a $175 per hour, or $182,000 plus $20,000 in contract administration.
Through their tenacity, initiative and intellectual curiosity, the DIOR Team was able to take the project from concept to implementation in three months. The overall cost savings are estimated at about $200,000.
The Divisions can make their statistical information available to the public as soon as it is ready; there is no more waiting to produce camera ready documents, sending them to printing, reviewing proofs, and waiting for final printing. By using the Internet, the information is now available to the customer faster and at a much lower cost. Because most public customers are businesses, their costs to use the Internet are fixed and therefore the reports are essentially free to them.
It all started with Executive Order 12821, which allowed DoD to send its excess computers to schools for use in math and science curriculums. But the team was faced with several problems. The usable excess equipment was needed by personnel in DoD and other Federal Agencies who did not have sufficient equipment resources. Sending excess ADP equipment to schools before offering it to government agencies could have negative results. This led to the thought of sending equipment of questionable condition to the schools; however, schools would receive no benefit from equipment that did not work. They entertained the idea of checking the equipment themselves before it went to a school, but the resources to spend on such an activity could not be spared. Then came the idea. Why not send the equipment to a vocational school and let the kids learn to fix computers?
The team found out that there were two vocational schools in Fairfax County, called "Professional and Technical Centers." The closest one, Edison High School in Franconia, VA, was on the way to Fort Belvoir, VA, where the equipment was sent for final disposal. To get top-level buy-in, the team met with the Head of the Professional and Technical Center and the Electronics Instructor, who were totally supportive of the idea. After working one Saturday with the Electronics Instructor to actually fix some equipment and prove the concept, the program was launched.
To date, sixty-six computers have been refurbished by students at the Edison Professional and Technical Center. The students also learned the business skills necessary to take receipt of the equipment by serial number, manage the equipment inventory, and issue the refurbished equipment to math and science classes in other schools. The Electronics Instructor managed to develop a curriculum on "Microcomputer Repair" during the school year and will be conducting both beginning and advanced classes next year.
The project was recognized by the National Performance Review, who presented the inventory team with Vice President Gore's coveted "Hammer Award." The team has also received the "Public Service Excellence Award" from the Public Employees Roundtable. The NPR has selected the program for Benchmarking where it will be accessible on "BenchNet" to assist other agencies and schools across the nation in starting similar programs. The inventory team is already planning to start a second program with Phelps Career Senior High School in Washington, D.C., and Fairfax County has offered to help them get started.
- Provided Project Management, Technical Management and a training plan for the
DA&M/WHS modernization effort that resulted in the project being completed one full year ahead of schedule at a savings of over $200,000. Vendor training program procedures were developed that utilized the purchase of bulk tickets for an estimated savings of $23,909.
- Teamed with Real Estate & Facilities to set up a Commission Facility equipped with
furniture and Information Technology (IT) hardware that would allow WHS to quickly accommodate Commissions as they are established. Cost avoidance of $190,000 is estimate to date with the housing of the Federal Voting Assistance Program's Absentee Voting Registration effort ($70,000) and housing the Comptroller Credit Card Task Force ($120,000).
- Developed an automated training database that is used by the Executive Staff to plan
developmental training for their staffs. The system also provides automated tools for tracking required training, e.g., Ethics, IMC, and Sexual Harassment training.
- Developed standards and quality assurance guidelines and checklists for all DIOR
publications. This effort has resulted in improved publications that are accurate and easier for the customers to understand. DIOR publications are distributed to other Defense organizations, Congress, and the general public.
Every employee in SPD is a key player, with authority to make the decisions necessary to accomplish their part of the team effort. They have demonstrated initiative, enthusiasm and energy to every project in which they participated.
The Personnel Security Team met with officials of the DIS Personnel Investigations Processing Center, and convinced them to accept OPM's form (SF 86) instead of the DD 398 in opening these investigations. From July 1994 when the agreement with DIS was made, until January 1996, when the DD 398 and SF 86 were replaced by a standard form, 308 cases were processed using this procedure. Estimated cost avoidance is at least $500,000 and a saving of approximately 43 days per case for a total of 36 calendar years.
- Customer Service Improvement/Mission Functions and Communications PAT, whose goal
is to make RE&F the premier real property management and administrative support service organization in the business.
- Contracting/Acquisition Reform PAT has recommended and implemented ways to
streamline and improve the quality and timeliness of the acquisition/contract process.
- Employee Empowerment/Human Resource Management PAT has focused on increasing
employee job satisfaction and improving customer service to both internal and external customers.
- Budget and Resource Management PAT has led the Directorate with cost saving
The teams are comprised of members with widely varying backgrounds and job classifications---building management, law enforcement, legal counsel, environmental specialist, procurement/acquisition specialist, management analyst, budget specialist and graphic artist. The comprehensiveness of the program, the diverse backgrounds of the program participants and their attention to the Total Quality Management (TQM) improvement process have made it outstanding. Some examples of success stories are summarized below. RE&F:
- Conducted an OMB Circular A-76 review for custodial services on the 2nd floor and
outside grounds of the Pentagon. The result was a decision to convert the in-house activity to contract. The award has been made and the potential savings will amount to approximately $2.7 million a year..
- Established a program to purchase fuel oil directly from the Defense Fuel Supply Center
(DFSC), instead of through GSA (eliminating a 14% surcharge). Potential annual cost savings are over $150,000. Natural gas will also be purchased directly under the Direct Supply Natural Gas Program of DFSC. In addition to the potential cost savings of over $500,000 a year, it has the advantage of assuring a backup supply of natural gas.
- Expanded the recycling program to include white paper, corrugated cardboard,
newspaper, aluminum cans, glass and plastic at a savings of $236,000 per year. The Federal Facilities Division of RE&F has been chosen the 1996 winner in the "Federal Government Agency, Office Building" category by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Savings for these and other ideas are estimated at over $10 million through cost avoidance and direct savings and the ideas keep coming!