Friday, May 28, 2010

Twisting in the Wind

Well, no sooner do I touch down in Kabul than I get an email from the DoD's Joint Contracting Command that the solicitation for the TWSS program has been cancelled. The entire solicitation, a proposal we and our partners have spent six months working on, and the contracting office just up and decides that they're not going to proceed. No explanation given beyond "the U.S. Government has determined the subject Solicitation no longer meets it's needs."

The TWSS program (Theatre-Wide Security Services, pronounced Twist) was intended to be an umbrella program for the provision of static security at U.S. Army facilities throughout Afghanistan.* The idea was that JCC would solicit proposals from all the major PSCs and then elvaluate them based upon techincal/operational capabilities, companies' financial resources, and of course, price. The top six or eight outfits would then be selected as "pre-approved" for future work. When each future job or project went live (what the DoD calls a Task Order), only the qualified companies would have the opportunity to bid on it, and the determining factor would be bid price. Thus, the Joint Contracting Command doesn't need to review the full capabilities every time they need more guards. Since that portion is already done, they simply review a brief pricing proposal and select the one that gives the best value for money.

*A similar program (TWSS I) is already operational in Iraq and has been for some time. I've not worked in Iraq so I can't say if it's works as intended, but I don't recall hearing any systemic complaints.

It was supposed to streamline the contracting procedure by front-loading most of the review and qualification work in the early stages. Nationwide there are at least thirty major U.S. Army Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) currently and perhaps a hundred Combat Outposts (COPs) and more are being built all the time. That's a lot of highly lucrative (albeit difficult) work. Obviously, it would be extremely important to be on the short-list.

We'd previously been deemed "technically acceptable" and "in the competitive range," both of which sound underwhelming, but are actually the DoD's way of saying that the bid was acceptable and we were in the running to be on the short-list.*

*Note that we were hardly the only outfit in the running for this program. Verified information is hard to come by, but there were at least several other outfits or partnerships that had also met the criteria and were simply waiting for the announcement of individual Task Orders.

Now, with little explanation and less warning, the whole program has been shitcanned. I can't even begin to calculate the number of man-hours that went into writing, reviewing, editing and submitting that proposal. Suffice it to say that the final product was over 150 pages long and highly technical. Now it's dead.

The upshot of all this is that I may shortly be out of a job. A large part of the reason I was brought onboard was to facilitate jobs like this. Someone who can speak American to the Americans, so to speak. The same Task Orders will eventually be released, but now it will be on an individual basis with no pre-qualifications and completely open bidding. Might save a few U.S. tax dollars here and there (probably not), but it will also mean that the competition for any particular job will be fierce and the profit margins squeezed. In that fight, we're not exactly the big dog.

I'll have to scramble to find some replacement work pretty fast, or else the Rug Merchant is going to start wondering why he's still paying me.


dmouse said...

This could be to placket karzai.
good luck to you.

Adam said...

Best of luck!