The Middle East District hosted a pre-proposal conference on Feb. 18 for two contracts that will provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services to the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). Thirty-nine contractors representing 28 international firms attended theconference.
The contracts are critical to Afghanistan Engineer Districts North and South as they provide contracted O&M services to Afghanistan National Army and Afghanistan National Police sites and facilities. “This suite of contracts is vital to allow work to continue unabated,” said Col. Ron Light, MED commander, in opening remarks. “These contracts will help keep facilities in serviceable condition for the ANSF. This work is critical for both the U.S. and Afghanistan governments.”
The ANSF is charged with security and law enforcement missions that are the backbone of long-term stability in Afghanistan. In 2002, the ANSF was envisioned to have 140,000 people but it has grown to 230,000 people. Those forces operate from 190 sites nationwide with several more under construction.
“We have done our level best to take the requirements from the field and put them in a package that’s biddable,” Light said. “The Afghanistan Districts have done their best to equip us to equip you for these projects. But we know there are gaps, and this pre-proposal conference helps us understand what you see as gaps in this contract. We encourage you to ask questions. We are committed to being transparent and responding to all questions.”
MED will award two firm-fixed-price, performance-based, standalone task order contracts for the northern and southern regions of Afghanistan. The contracts will replace existing contracts that will expire this summer.
According to Elizabeth Chien, AED-North has an O&M contract in place to service Afghan National Army facilities and two contracts in place to service Afghan National Police facilities – one in the north and one in the south. Chein is the O&M program manager for AED-North. Contrack International Inc. holds the current contract for the Army facilities, and Lotfi Construction Company and ANHAM-AFGS joint venture hold the contracts for the police facilities.
With the new acquisition, AED-North combined the requirements for contracts that will have a capacity of $450 million for the northern portion of the country and $350 million for the southern portion of the country. Contractors can bid on one solicitation or both.
The conference was structured with four presentations, all tied to specific portions of the request for proposal (RFP) documents to ensure contractors completely understand the proposal requirements:
- Kathleen Achord, Contracting Division, provided an overview of the solicitation.
- Kanwal Nain and Louis Martinez, Services Section of Construction-Operations Division, discussed the performance work statement, the portion of the RFP detailing the services the contractor is required to perform.
- Melody Ciulo, Contracting Division, discussed price/cost.
- And Michael Graham, Contract Administration Branch, detailed the instructions, conditions and notices to bidders and the basis of award.
Achord told offerors that they must complete all submissions accurately and follow the instructions “to the letter” in the government’s request for proposal.
“The three most critical sections of the solicitation are Section C, the performance work statement; Section L, which tells offerors what to address in their proposals and how to submit proposals; and Section M, which tells offerors how proposals will be evaluated,” Achord said.
The performance work statement requires the contractor to perform scheduled preventive maintenance, checks and services; maintenance and repair services; and systems and infrastructure support services, including alterations and minor construction. Nain and Martinez emphasized the diversity of the O&M service requirements.
“These are independent solicitations, with the work located throughout various provinces and in multiple locations,” Martinez said. “The package has an extensive list of diagrams. You will be called on to service facilities ranging from an entire base to a single checkpoint.
The ANSF sites and facilities in Northern Afghanistan may differ significantly from their counterparts in Southern Afghanistan.” Martinez also emphasized the training requirement for ANSF engineering personnel. “The contract has a requirement that supports the capacity development program through the provision of on-the-job vocational training. The training portions contribute to the goal of empowering the host nation and building sustainable outcomes.”
Contractors will train ANSF personnel in O&M procedures, quality inspections, fire and safety, disaster response, work order processing, mechanical and electrical, carpentry, plumbing, air conditioning and other trades.
Nain said that security is another factor that varies throughout the country.
Roger Thomas, chief of Construction-Operations Division, said that security is one element of the “province factor” that offerors must consider. “It may well cost the same to provide services for a certain type of facility anywhere in the country. But there are other considerations in this environment. The province factor is what you use to price your unknowns and site specific information,” Thomas said.
Ciulo told contractors that their price proposals must have “live” Microsoft Excel files and not Adobe .pdf files. “We must have live Excel spreadsheets for the bid schedule and contract line item price spreadsheets to determine if the proposal is mathematically correct,” she said.
Graham detailed the proposal preparation instructions. He also explained that the government will award the contracts on the basis of best value using the tradeoff process.
Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the government may use the tradeoff process to select the most advantageous offer based on price and non-pricing factors. This method allows the government to determine how much weight to give pricing and non-pricing factors used in the acquisition and then apply those weights in its evaluation and in selecting a source.
Graham also discussed the four evaluation factors – experience, management and technical approach, past performance, and price – and their weights in terms of overall importance during the evaluation.
He emphasized that contractors must prepare their proposals “in sufficient detail to allow the government to evaluate the proposed approach and qualifications.”
During the conference, several firms indicated they had not received solicitation information.
To rectify the situation, MED provided a copy of the RFP on CD and emphasized that amendments or changes would be provided through a password-protected website. MED subsequently posted this notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website. In addition, to ensure a level playing field, the proposal due date was extended from March 4 to March 18.
Light told contractors that the Corps of Engineers relies on them. “Without you, we can’t get our business done,” he said. “This is a tough environment to work in. This is a complex acquisition. Our commitment to you is to provide you with all the information we can, and we will answer your questions. The successful end state is successful contracts delivering O&M services on behalf of our government to the Afghanistan government.”
MED expects to award the contracts in late May.