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Acquisition Reform - The Number One Priority for America's Army

Acquisition Reform is now a top priority within the Army according to the Secretary of the Army, Togo West, at a March 10, 1997, press conference. Mr. West highlighted the importance of streamlining acquisition procedures to help "beef up our modernization efforts." The Secretary emphasized that reform initiatives are designed to promote elements of procurement that are smart, rather than just traditional. "It is a priority to the American taxpayer, who wants to know we are investing his or her tax dollars wisely and are getting results."

Based on this mandate, the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA) at Fort Detrick has responded vigorously. National Contract Management Association (NCMA) sponsored training seminars on two of the major reforms (market research and commercial item acquisition) have been conducted. USAMRAA, working closely with other Command offices, promoted and conducted a full day of acquisition reform seminars and presentations, and even participated in an Integrated Product Team (IPT) game to set the stage for further use of this valuable method of early communication and integrated decision making. This full day of events was part of Secretary Cohen's "Department of Defense Acquisition Reform Week" starting March 17, which included conferences, training seminars, remote broadcasts and numerous other DOD-wide events. Army-sponsored acquisition reform training has been set for both July and August at Fort Detrick to further focus on better use of acquisition reform tools and processes.

As another element of USAMRAA's reform efforts, they were addressed by Colonel Elton Minney, the Director of the Acquisition Reform Office, ASA(RDA), at their quarterly staff meeting. His presentation set the tone for continued support by both technical users and procurement personnel to sustain the momentum and implement the reform philosophy into its day-to-day operations.

In the end, we must realize that acquisition reform is an attitude as much as it is a series of innovative changes and improved processes. The DOD, the Army, this Command, the USAMRAA and each employee is being challenged to think in terms of smarter, cheaper, faster and better acquisition service. Whether it is use of IPTs, commercial products, market research, IMPAC cards, oral presentations, best value evaluations, past performance criteria, master contracting, partnering or any other of the myriad of reform ideas that are being offered for potential benefit to our missions, everyone in the acquisition chain has an opportunity to embrace and utilize these initiatives.