HottestTeams Ticket: Get Creative and Win Business
HottestTeams Ticket: Get Creative and Win Business <@VM>HottestTeams Ticket: Get Creative and Win Business
Three of this year's hottest contracts illustrate vividly the challenges and teaming solutions the winning teams are bringing to bear as government agencies place more and more responsibility on the backs of industry.
Tasked with a major integration job in assembling a National Missile Defense System for the Defense Department, a large team led by Seattle's Boeing Co. has adopted a "badgeless" working environment and is co-locating key employees in three different contract facilities. This approach emphasizes team talents to the point where it can be tough to determine the company roots of the people working on the project, industry officials say.
Lockheed Martin Corp. also is using the badgeless approach to maximize performance of its team in NASA's Consolidated Space Operations Contract (CSOC). The Bethesda, Md., company edged out a team led by Boeing to win the $3.4 billion, 10-year contract.
Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif., on the other hand, opted to partner with its own commercial division rather than turn to a federally minded firm in its quest to cut costs and provide value to civilian agencies looking to outsource their data centers. The result: It won the General Services Administration Virtual Data Center outsourcing contract, a multiple-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity vehicle with an estimated value of $6 billion over 10 years.
If there was any question about NASA's resolve to turn its day-to-day, IT-intensive operations over to the private
sector, the answer came in late September when the space agency awarded its CSOC contract to Lockheed Martin. In doing so, the agency has charged the company with taking over the management responsibilities of satellite flight control and telemetry data processing at five NASA space centers.
"It really is a huge change for the way they deal with contractors and for the way we deal with them," says Ken Asbury, vice president of business development for Lockheed Martin. "Not only are they taking the burden of administering 17 existing individual contracts and putting them under one umbrella, but they are saying to us: 'Here are our requirements, but you're in charge. You figure out a way to cut costs and increase quality, and if you do, we'll reward you for it.' It's true performance-based contracting."
For Lockheed Martin, the key to fulfilling such a goal is a two-pronged teaming approach that creates a new way of doing business. Enter the badgeless working arrangement, where each firm provides the best employees possible for a particular task in an environment where they work as a team.
This approach allows the team to integrate its work forces and provide "the best value and total support to the customer," says Wes Jordan, vice president of Federal Networking Systems for GTE Internetworking, a team member in Arlington, Va. "There's no finger pointing. All the contractors work together to address challenges and ensure that the contract delivers against its objectives."
Lockheed's most daunting challenge, however, was to assemble a team that could combine an institutional knowledge of NASA legacy systems and space operations with the ability to apply new commercial communications protocols and innovative commercial products.
The other subcontractors tapped for the job were: AlliedSignal Technical Services Corp., Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Computer Sciences Corp., MCI, Wang Global and Siemens AG.
Getting AlliedSignal to sign on was critical to the effort. This leader in flight control and telemetry processing had been the prime contractor on the Consolidated Network Mission and Operations Support contract at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. That NASA effort, which involved oversight of more than two dozen spacecraft, was being consolidated under CSOC.
Indeed, AlliedSignal's performance played a part in jump-starting NASA's decision to develop the CSOC concept, according to Lockheed Martin and AlliedSignal officials.
"Not only was it a precursor for the consolidation effort but also for performance-based contracting," says Joe Militano, a spokesman for AlliedSignal. "We saved $40 million over an 18-month period, and our quality went up substantially. During that time, we were capturing 99.997 percent of the satellite data."
For Lockheed, AlliedSignal's expertise offered an even more practical benefit. Lockheed officials will leverage the company's successful job of running space operations to ensure that no spacecraft or space data are endangered "as we add new technologies or new processes," says Asbury.
Innovation, however, was just as important to the effort. A key component of the Lockheed Martin plan, according to Asbury, was to replace the large number of "brick and mortar control systems" with "virtual mission control centers" based on Internet communications.
To achieve this goal, Lockheed Martin brought in GTE Internetworking (formerly BBN Technologies) of Irving, Texas. This firm not only had played a seminal role in developing the Internet, but actually coined the @ sign so critical to e-mail communications. Today, the company operates one of the world's largest business-only Internet backbone networks.
"With the performance-based contracting, the badgeless environment and our strategic approach of combining institutional knowledge with new technologies, it's a lot of change. And people don't like change, so the jury is still out on how well it's going to work," says Asbury.
But all of the team members have bought into the approach, and NASA is enthusiastic about it. Says Asbury: "We feel very confident that this will be a model for future contracts."
A Prescient Plan
Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Rockwell International's aerospace and defense division joined together to form a powerhouse team to bid on the National Missile Defense opportunity back in late 1996.
By early this spring, however, when the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization finally awarded a contract potentially worth $5.2 billion, the three entities had merged into one seemingly unbeatable organization, now known simply as the Boeing Co.
"We jokingly like to say that our planning and foresight on this contract demonstrated to the board of directors that the three should be put together permanently," says Josh Edwards, director of business development for the National Missile Defense program at Boeing. "Of course, it had little or no influence. It was just a coincidence."
Nonetheless, with all three organizations now firmly settled under one roof, the new team, along with several key subcontractors, beat out the United Missile Defense Co. for the chance to develop, test and possibly deploy a high-tech shield capable of providing limited protection to the United States from intercontinental ballistic missile attacks. The United Missile Defense Co. team was led by Lockheed Martin and included Raytheon Co. and TRW Inc.
"Everyone involved in this effort had tons of experience in missile defense programs, but the Boeing team simply put together the best operational concept," says Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, a spokesperson for the Pentagon's ballistic missile defense unit.
Designing and integrating a system that can effectively protect against nuclear attack is tough enough to accomplish, but the Boeing team also must have its concept tested and ready for initial deployment (if directed to do so by Congress) at the end of three years.
"Even the government admits this is an extremely short, high-risk schedule," says Edwards. "But we knew this was going to be the case going in, and that challenge, coupled with the difficulty of the integration work, definitely affected our teaming strategy."
In fact, teaming was a critical concern from the get-go, and it presented its own challenges.
Boeing and its acquisitions offered plenty of experience in systems engineering and integration, ground-based interceptor products and booster integration.
However, "we recognized there were certain niches in which we could be stronger," says Edwards. The company thus picked partners that had been performing missile defense studies and developing such technology shortly after President Reagan unveiled the Strategic Defense Initiative effort in 1983.
Signed on as partners were: Xontech, Van Nuys, Calif.; the Schafer Corp., Chelmsford, Mass.; Northrop Grumman, Los Angeles; Booz-Allen & Hamilton, McLean, Va.; Alliant Techsystems, Hopkins, Minn.; Teledyne Brown Engineering, Huntsville, Ala.; Logicon, Herndon, Va.; and Pratt & Whitney, Hartford, Conn.
One major difficulty arose when the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization directed Boeing to also include TRW and Raytheon as part of the contract requirements. These two firms already were working on programs to develop Battle Management Command, Control and Communications and X-Band Radar, respectively.
The only problem was they previously signed a joint venture with Lockheed Martin and were pursuing the National Missile Defense contract as part of the United Missile Defense.
"It was a significant challenge," Edwards says. "We struggled with our strategy on how to incorporate the TRW and Raytheon efforts into our proposal and to present a case that was as strong as they could write on their own.
"We got input from them, but it was focused on the work they had been doing and not on what we hoped to do in the future, which included significant adjustments and modifications that we thought would make the team stronger," he says.
The complex technological challenges the team faces, along with the short schedule, forced the Boeing team to change its approach to daily work.
For starters, Boeing and its partners agreed early on that a badgeless environment was critical to success and to co-locate their employees under one roof in three facilities: Huntsville, Ala., Anaheim, Calif., and Washington.
"We needed to work as a pure team. And when you visit one of our facilities, you really have to dig deep to figure out what company someone is originally from," says Ed Gerry, the chief engineer for the National Missile Defense program and an employee of Schafer Corp.
Computer Sciences Corp.'s Federal Civil Group did not have to look far when it went looking for a teammate that could provide effective data processing services for the GSA's Virtual Data Center outsourcing contract.
Despite opportunities to partner with other federally focused companies, CSC decided to partner with its own Global Infrastructure Systems unit, which provides data center and network communications services primarily to commercial clients.
The benefits of such an arrangement have proven significant.
"Most importantly, we are able to leverage the commercial best practices that we've gained from providing services to so many clients over the years, and bring that same kind of knowledge to the federal government," says Thomas O'Hare Jr., director of information technology services and program manager for the GSA Virtual Data Center for CSC.
But with value always an important component to winning federal business, the CSC approach has critical pricing advantages as well, he says. Because the company can use its existing data centers around the world, it didn't have the expense of putting up additional facilities, he says.
In addition, the commercial group doesn't tack on a lot of internal profit and pass it on to us, he says. And "because we have so many commercial clients, we can gain those critical economies of scale that help us keep costs down even further," he says.
In fact, the financial advantages have proven especially profitable for CSC when it comes to competing under the GSA Virtual Data Center contract. Of the eight task orders that have been let since the contract's award late last year, CSC has beaten the other two contractors, Unisys Corp. and SunGard Computer Services Inc., for five of them.
The opportunities, all with the Education Department and all of which are being migrated to the CSC data processing center in Meriden, Conn., include the National Student Loan Data System, the Post-Secondary Educational Participants System and the Pell Grant Recipient and Financial Management System. The five task orders have a combined value in excess of $220 million.
Although the Federal Civil Group and the Global Infrastructure Systems unit are both part of CSC, they still act like typical partners, each bringing separate but critical elements to the arrangement.
The Global Infrastructure division not only provides the day-to-day data processing services, but it also has been instrumental in examining the government's requirements and working out a pricing structure.
The Federal Civil Group provides an in-depth knowledge of government procurement practices and regulations, and works closely as an interface between the agency and the commercial group.
"We review the service delivery that's being provided, make sure the commercial group clearly understands the government's requirements, make certain the client is satisfied with the work that's being done, and sometimes we'll even participate in designing a solution, depending on what the problem is," says O'Hare. "It's a very complementary relationship."
Because of the closeness of the relationship, however, CSC also brought on Berdine and Associates, Falls Church, Va., to provide an objective point-of-view and independent validation and verification of various projects.
This small, woman-owned firm has strong experience with the federal government and is an expert on data center migrations, O'Hare says. CSC needed that perspective to help it conduct reviews and ensure that the client is getting exactly what it needs, O'Hare says.