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AFSPC holds forum for government, industry partners

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Space Command members met with industry representatives here Dec. 12 in a forum dedicated to clearing away communication obstacles to the acquisition process. 

“There was a similar event in October put together by the National Defense Industrial Association,” said Lt. Col. Renee Richardson, chief, policy and clearance branch for Headquarters AFSPC’s contracting division, and organizer for this event. “This forum is more focused on space command acquisitions and improving industry and government communication so that we can get the warfighter what the warfighter needs.”

In a tight budgetary climate where processes must run smoothly, it is vital that the government understands the demands placed on industry and industry understands the demands placed on the government, said Colonel Richardson. “This will hopefully make the dialogue more meaningful so that we can get what we need faster and cheaper,” she said.

Historically, the primary obstacle to communication has been a misunderstanding of the rules that either party has to adhere to within the acquisition process.

Those rules and processes have changed. It used to be a ‘push-system’ where the government pushed out its request for proposals and the industry responded. Now industry and the government are working together to develop the requests. To ease this process, first they have to speak the same language.

In break-out session recaps, briefed to General Lord, groups revealed that the education on acquisition ethics must be further refined; that industry needs a process to mitigate the effects of the military’s high turnover of personnel; and a system for defining qualitative and quantitative indicators should be developed.

It can be difficult, though, to quantify desired outcomes on critical AFSPC contracts which require analysis, or brain power. “These efforts include support services contracts: for instance the contractors who work as part of the headquarters (AFSPC) team,” said Colonel Richardson. “That’s part of the process we are looking at improving.”

“Whether or not you’re satisfied with that kind of service is primarily after-the-fact,” said General Lord. “We need to figure out how to translate this for the contract writers.”

There are no simple answers for the way ahead. “You’ve given us about eight months of work,” General Lord amiably told the briefers.

In his final comments, the general thanked the members of the forum for shedding some light on the issues and promised to work toward making the system better.