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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2017

Contracts contribute to SPAWAR mission

By Navy Capt. Scott Heller, commanding officer Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Systems Center Atlantic

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic provides Information Warfare solutions for our Navy/Marine Corps team. These solutions ensure command and control, logistics, intelligence, medical support, air traffic control, satellite and terrestrial communications, networks, air traffic control and cyber offensive and defensive solutions, all contributing to the world’s most powerful fighting force. 

Although we have an amazing government civilian and military workforce, there is far more work to accomplish than can be done by the 4,100 people assigned to SSC Atlantic. Given the amount of work we do, 850 projects in parallel today, it is essential that we are able to augment our workforce and procure commercially available solutions via contractual relationships with our industry partners. In 2016, approximately $2 billion of the $3.2 billion entrusted to SSC Atlantic was spent to acquire 9,500 man years from industry, along with the material to deliver 850 projects on behalf of our national defense team. Six hundred fifty-six million dollars were in direct partnerships with small businesses. 


Primarily a Navy Working Capital Fund Organization, SSC Atlantic relies on DoD customers paying for our engineering services rather than direct congressional appropriations. Since each project is directly tied to customer funding, our workforce is very agile and dynamically allocated to meet customer needs. This reduces friction, speeds response time and improves our cost awareness.


Last fiscal year, 468 small businesses were leveraged by SSC Atlantic. We exceed the Department of the Navy’s established targets for small business usage by a significant margin. All federal agencies are required to set small business goals in accordance with the Small Business Act. SSC Atlantic’s target is directing at least 32 percent of total obligated dollars on prime contracts to small business concerns. Our success in consistently exceeding this goal is a result of acquisition planning, meaningful market research to understand small business capability and minimizing the barriers to entry.


Small businesses are an essential part of our nation’s industrial base and help America retain its technological superiority.  In order to maintain these advantages, SSC Atlantic invests greatly in our relationship with small businesses through focused communication and outreach. One essential element of this outreach and bidirectional communication is our quarterly Small Business Industry Outreach Initiative (SBIOI)… the 42nd session was held Dec. 9, 2016 in conjunction with the Charleston Defense Contractors Association (CDCA) summit in North Charleston. This event provided a venue for government and industry to understand future opportunities and the operational constraints applying to both. Through mutual understanding, we identify opportunities to reduce the cost of doing business. One universally praised portion of the SBIOI was a panel of industry partners who were encouraged to help teach our government team what their issues are and for our government team to question these senior industry partners as a team.


Additionally, the most recent SBIOI featured an informative session with the Director of the Navy Office of Small Business Programs, Emily Harman, and SSC Atlantic's Contracts Lead, Steve Harnig. Their ability to help industry predict the future is invaluable in saving industry and government investment dollars.


Many of our industry partners have worked with us for years on projects ranging from ForceNet, Information Dominance and now Information Warfare and cybersecurity.  We work hard to be a good partner and to improve our contracting processes. On this front, we have made great strides in the development, execution and administration of various types of contract actions. We have shifted our focus to “Need By” dates to drive accountability on making timely contract awards. We have improved communication between our acquisition professionals and our Business Portfolios and Integrated Product Teams, and increased awareness of milestone events required to award actions. This improved upfront planning and the establishment of realistic expectations with customers.  

The level of collaboration will also be strengthened with the realignment of contracts personnel to the portfolios. Our progress is noteworthy but we need to continue to focus our collaborative efforts. We are looking at our enterprise tools and how to keep improving shared situational awareness and collaboration. We are improving our timely responses to funded purchase requests (PRs), how we make modifications and our ability to conduct timely First Pass Yield reviews of procurement packages. We will continue to seek opportunities to make process improvements to increase the overall quality level of all of contract actions.


Expectations are great as information warfare is on par with other Navy warfighting domains such as surface, aviation and submarine warfare. It's an exciting time to work together with our industry partners.  As we execute our acquisition process – throughout the planning, solicitation, evaluation, award and post award of contracts – we will continue to strengthen our relationships and be more agile and responsive. We are thankful for our industry partners because without them we could not do what we do. Together, we can change the world for the better by delivering information warfare solutions to our warfighters every day.