MATOC Industry Day attracts record numbers

Published April 23, 2010
Roger Thomas, Chief of Construction-Operations Division, tells the conference attendees that working in Middle East District’s area of responsibility could be some of the hardest work they will ever do. Photos by Kristin Hoelen..

The Middle East District’s Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) Industry Day, held March 26 in Winchester, Va., definitely drew a crowd.

More than 250 international businesses were represented through 391 registered attendees plus an additional 22 who were granted access once space was determined available. They came from as far east as Central Asia and the Middle East, as far west as California, as nearby as down the street in Winchester, and many places in between.

Construction industry representatives had come to hear about new opportunities. The Corps of Engineers was there to share information about a potential multi-billion dollar MATOC for design-build and construction projects within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

“MED is executing the MATOC on behalf of the Transatlantic Division [our higher headquarters] for work within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility,” said Rich Dickson, MATOC project manager. “We asked the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville to assist us with pre-award contracting tasks because of their MATOC experience.”

“Our purpose here today is to share information with you,” said MED Commander Col. Ron Light, during his welcome and opening remarks. “You need to know what you will be dealing with and what you could be getting into. While the environment over there continues to improve, it is still not permissive,” Light said of the 20 countries in USCENTCOM’s area of responsibility.

While not the only tool in the toolbox, MATOCs have proven invaluable in the past. During fiscal years 2004 to 2008, task orders totaled $4.575 billion on the district’s previous USCENTCOM indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts. There was no such contract in place during FY 09 and 10, and for planning purposes, no MATOC task orders are expected during FY 10 or 11.

“Obviously, looking into the future, our crystal ball is a little fuzzy,” said Deborah Duncan, Deputy for Programs and Project Management. “It’s difficult to get a clear picture of the workload five years out. But based on what we now know about projects and with funding coming mostly from Army, Air Force, and FMS [Foreign Military Sales], our estimate is about $3.8 billion in work to be accomplished during fiscal years 2012 through 2016 through the MATOC.”

The next five or six years will see a huge construction workload for projects throughout USCENTCOM’s area of responsibility. On behalf of the Transatlantic Division and Army Corps of Engineers, MED will need industry partners to accomplish it. That is where the MATOC comes into play.

Following solicitation, proposal, and evaluations, the Contracting Officer will award an ID/IQ contract. The target for this MATOC is 10 responsible offerors. The awards will be based on those providing the best value, as defined in the acquisition plan. Once awarded, individual task orders will be issued and those companies can compete among themselves for the work.

According to Lisle Lennon, Procuring Contracting Officer from the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, another purpose of the event was to hear from industry representatives. “We are looking for your input,” she said. “We want to know what you think the impact would be on small businesses if we kept a single pool of both large and small businesses. So far, small businesses have successfully competed with large businesses and won. We want your feedback. It helps us determine the industry base and the capabilities and limitations. Feedback lets us know how many small businesses are capable. How do you want to see this acquisition go? This is our market research.”

The Chief of MED’s Construction-Operations Division Roger Thomas was brutally honest about the work and the area of responsibility based on his more than 30 years’ experience. “It will probably be some of the hardest work you’ll ever do,” he said. “You need to be prepared and to know what you are doing to be successful in this part of the world.”

One example he gave was base access requirements. “There are 20 countries in the area of responsibility, and each base in each country has different requirements,” Thomas said. “We look to you to work those issues out. We will assist and advise you based on what we’ve done in the past, but there is no guarantee that the process will still work. Things change -- often. You are responsible for getting in there with your equipment, people, vehicles, materials.

“All risks and challenges associated with working in these locations are part of doing business in that part of the world,” he said. Safety requirements are not waived. Security, power, communications, customs, duties, taxes, subcontractors, are all contractor responsibilities.

“Being awarded a contract may be the easy part,” Thomas said. “The hard part is going to be executing.”

Other speakers offered information and advice on other aspects of contracting and working in USCENTCOM’s area of responsibility. Christy Loy, chief of Contracting Division’s Africa/South West Asia Branch, discussed the balance of payments program. JoAnn Bray, chief of Contracting Division’s Iraq Reach Back Branch, discussed Sureties and SPOT [Synchronized Pre-Deployment Operational Tracker]. Lynn Harper, PARC-Winchester (Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting) discussed Defense Base Act Insurance. Colleen O’Keefe, Transatlantic Division’s Regional Contracting chief, discussed overseas contracting challenges.

“This Industry Day was a huge success,” said Darralyn Williams, Chief of MED Contracting Division. “I’ve heard lots of positive feedback from all around. Though it was a tremendous amount of work, all the extra effort put in to making this event such a success was well worth it.”

Contract award is expected on or before May 24, 2011.

Julie Shoemaker

Release no. 13-041