REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama (September 19, 2023) - Army Contracting Command officials awarded their first contract using the new Army Contract Writing System Sept. 14 with plans to introduce the new platform across the enterprise in the new fiscal year.
Kristen Carter, a contract specialist, and Timothy Greenwell, a contracting officer, both with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command-Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington successfully executed a purchase order for specialized boat trailers in support of an ACC mission partner on Sept. 14.
Carter and Greenwell are among a select group of ACC personnel at MICC-JBLM using ACWS to execute requirements funded by the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System financial interface. Two satellite offices of the 411th Contracting Support Brigade at Camp Humphreys in South Korea will adopt ACWS for DEAMS-funded requirements later this year.
Mass deployment across the ACC enterprise is expected in the spring of 2024 once software developers and integrators give ACWS the ability to communicate with the General Financial Enterprise Business System platform used by most ACC mission partners.
Initial deployment efforts will focus on current Standard Procurement System/Procurement Desktop for Defense users, enabling ACC to schedule the eventual shutdown of this legacy system in 2025, according to Jeffrey Woods, the ACC Army Contracting Writing System functional representative at ACC-Detroit Arsenal. Later as software feature and capability development continue, ACC officials will focus on replacing the Procurement Automated Document Distribution System. PADDS users can look forward to clicking the 'red door' for the last time in 2026."
ACWS is not a brand-new contracting platform. Air Force contracting personnel have used the underlying ACWS software, known as CON-IT, since 2018. In 2022, officials from the Army, Navy, Defense Logistics Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services decided to implement their own new contract writing systems using CON-IT as a starting point, quickly deploying the Air Force software as a baseline, then using Agile software development techniques to build and release agency-specific capabilities and features over time. All forms of this system use modern technology and run within a normal internet browser.
A unified replacement for PADDS and SPS/PD2 is a welcome development for the ACC user base, Woods added. While both systems have successfully supported trillions of dollars of Defense procurement over their lifecycles, their aging architectures cannot meet the needs of today's contracting professionals in service of the Army's strategic goals.
"Agile software development practices will help the current ACWS program avoid the pitfalls of earlier efforts, which date back to at least 1999," Woods said. Instead of attempting to release a complete, finished contract writing suite in one shot, the Agile process focuses on releasing software to users as soon as what's available can deliver value to them. In this instance, Army ACWS users can get started with what currently exists while the developers keep building.
The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement and a contracted partner team maintains the Army's current ACWS version and provides training for new ACWS users and administrators. A development team including Program Manager Defense Integrated Business Systems, ODASA(P), U.S. Department of Agriculture, and contracted partners create and deploy an assortment of new major capabilities in the coming months. Some of these capabilities will be Logistics Modernization Program connectivity, and general system enhancements like enhanced integration with the Virtual Contracting Enterprise Suite that will remain in use for the foreseeable future. As ACWS gains capabilities, more groups of users will receive training and begin adopting the system.
ACC is committed to ensuring ACWS deployment will have minimal mission impact, through a strategy unofficially known as "Smart Migration," Woods said. "ACC aspires to leave existing systems online for a significant amount of time following ACWS deployment to each ACC location or workgroup, allowing users to focus on learning and enjoying the new software instead of migrating all existing work. We anticipate users will only need to migrate actions expected to outlive the system where they originated."
New ACWS users will complete four-day interactive training with a virtual instructor culminating in live support as they interact with their first workload items. Training sessions are delivered by an expert team of contracting professionals, with input from Brade Zemke, an ACC-Detroit Arsenal-based VCE rollout veteran and SPS/PD2 functional system administrator currently completing a developmental assignment with the ODASA(P) training and deployment team. Each Department of Defense Activity Address Code within the ACC enterprise has a designated pair of site leads who will coordinate user training and ACWS adoption when the system comes to their organization.
Users who have experienced the current ACWS find the system to be intuitive and designed to save time and improve contract quality.
"I see two big differences in ACWS verses PD2," Carter said. "Having Clause Logic Service integrated into the system allows for a more accurate capture of the correct clauses. Going through the interview process in CLS has helped me better understand the required clauses for our awards. Secondly, in ACWS as you clear the PDS errors and re-validate your data, the PDS errors will clear. You have a real-time visual of which errors have cleared. Seeing that the errors have cleared is reassuring to me in knowing that my contracting officer will get a draft contract that will require little or no corrections and/or re-work. Less re-work means our customers get their awards quicker.
About Army Contracting Command
The Army Contracting Command is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. From food and clothing to bullets and bombs; from tanks and trucks to boats and aircraft; from Soldiers' weapons to the installations where they work and live with their families, ACC ensures Soldiers have what they need to be successful. As the Army's principal buying agent, ACC supports Army readiness and modernization by using best practices and expert-level oversight to provide warfighters with premier contracting support. The command accomplishes its global operational missions with a professional workforce of Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, foreign local nationals and contractors at more than 100 locations worldwide.