HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Engagement and collaboration were key topics during a panel here Jan. 22 that discussed rapid acquisition topics from an industry perspective.
Hosted by the Hanscom Representatives Association, the panel consisted of members from three traditional defense contractors, two small businesses and one startup.
Hanscom’s director of Contracting, Tony Braswell, who served as moderator, started off by commenting about the changes the Air Force has experienced in the past few years when shifting its focus to be more agile and innovative.
“That has changed the dynamic of how we interface with our industry partners,” he said.
Adam (AJ) Jarnigan, chief executive officer for EXPANSIA, said that government and industry are “teaming smarter to go faster.”
“We’re more transparent with one another when it comes to information sharing,” he said. “There’s trust like never before.”
However, all panel members agreed that there should be more dialogue, more often, especially earlier in the process.
Tonico Beope, vice president of contracts and subcontracts for Leidos, said that it’s helpful to look at draft requests for proposals and statements of work.
“Getting that industry input first is huge,” he said. “To get the best solution for the warfighter, you need that competitive environment.”
Beope added that follow-up feedback is also critical and, recommended, that it be in person when possible.
Panel members also discussed various contracting methods, from Section 804 to other transaction authorities.
“You need to make sure you have the right tool for the right job,” said Tim Ceteras, account manager at Collins Aerospace. “Say you’re currently working with OTAs, but that may not be the right tool for every opportunity.”
When asked by an audience member why their various companies wanted to work with the government, the panel members all had similar responses.
“It’s exciting, impactful work,” said Matt Peters, CEO for Skyward Federal LLC. “In order to be motivated, employees need to see the strategic impact of what they’re doing.”
Other panel members were Jamie Thurber from Lockheed Martin and Pete Zumwalt from ASRC Federal.
Braswell summed up the panel’s recommendations.
“We need to sit down and look at our requirements, collaborate with our mission partners and industry and figure out what’s going to deliver the capability we need.”