DOD taps Alliant for technology needs
Department of Defense (DOD) organizations are increasing their use of Alliant as they become more familiar with its value and services. “There can be a lot of advantages to using Alliant, such as reduced lead time, reduced administrative costs, and ensuring that we have adequate competition,” said Mike Canales, a senior analyst in the office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP). “And with Alliant Small Business, it’s an opportunity for us to meet our small business goals.”
Canales, who advises Defense organizations on interagency acquisition issues, said DOD acquisition policy allows—and even encourages—Defense organizations to use Alliant and other non-DOD contracts when contracting officials determine that using an outside contract is both the best procurement approach and in the best interest of the agency. Consequently, Canales recommends that DOD program and contracting officials become familiar with Alliant and other non-DOD contracts, which are tools they can use to acquire IT products and services to meet their mission requirements. They also need to understand their own requirements, including any restrictions attached to the funding for their projects.
“You’re making a business decision when deciding whether to contract inside or outside the department for support,” Canales said.
The Alliant program is building a strong reputation among Defense organizations, which have steadily increased their use of the vehicle since its launch in 2009. Altogether, DOD organizations, including the military services, have issued 136 task orders worth $3.025 billion under Alliant, including $1.338 billion in the last 12 months. “DOD customers are happy not only with the performance of the Alliant program office, but also with the performance they receive under their orders” Canales said.
Allaying Fears about Using Alliant
Despite its growing use, some DOD contracting officers remain reluctant to use interagency contracting vehicles, and so Alliant officials are trying to allay their fears and misgivings. “When the contracting dollars get very high, people need to feel more comfortable that the contract can do the job, and that the process will go faster and more smoothly than if they had done it themselves,” said Roger Chapin, an Alliant Administrator Contracting Officer.
In addition, if an organization does not have much experience using non-DOD contracting vehicles, its leaders will monitor contracting officers closely to ensure that they are complying with all of the rules and regulations governing interagency contracts, said John Cavadias, an Alliant Procuring Contracting Officer.
Chapin and Cavadias are former senior Defense contracting officers—Chapin with the Army and Cavadias with the Marine Corps—and so both understand the needs of DOD contracting officials who are evaluating or using Alliant. “When I was in the field, interagency contracts would get more scrutiny, because the military needed reassurance that we would get what we wanted when we wanted it,” Cavadias said.
An Encouraging Outlook
Last year, Navy officials identified Alliant and Alliant Small Business as candidates for the Navy’s Strategic Sourcing initiative aimed at reducing costs, increasing competition and streamlining the acquisition of IT services. This policy would encourage Navy acquisition personnel to use Alliant and Alliant SB, along with the service’s own Navy SeaPort-e contract, rather than creating their own contracts, when acquiring IT services. However, the Navy has not yet made a formal decision regarding the Alliant programs, Alliant officials said.
Alliant officials said they would like to see more work from Defense organizations but are nevertheless pleased with its growing use within DOD. In fact, the Air Force is one of Alliant’s largest federal customers, and thus far has issued 58 task orders worth $1.4 billion. “I’m very encouraged what we are seeing,” said Casey Kelley, Alliant program manager.