The following article was originally published by Defense Visual Information Distribution Service on July 22, 2020. It was written by Ferdinand Detres Jr.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District has continued to lead the way in using its various contracting programs to accomplish its mission in a continuously changing environment.
In fiscal year 2018 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed 37 purchases on the Unison Marketplace with the reverse auctioning tool.
“The Unison Marketplace is an online marketplace that assists buyers in purchasing goods and services needed to fulfill procurement strategies,” said David Neal, contracting officer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Omaha District. “There are currently 75 federal agencies and many other public and private organizations that are currently buying on the Unison Marketplace.”
The Unison Marketplace allows one marketplace to handle all actions with a simplified request for quote process. It currently has a seller network of over 114,000, with dedicated account management for every buyer and a simplified buy posting process.
The no risk service fee model allows for no upfront investment, license fees or maintenance costs.
Neal said, “The tool has been in place for a while and has shown a benefit to the Army to include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The tool is more aligned with our Civil Branch and I could see where it would be able to streamline a lot of small dollar purchases, especially for our projects offices at the dam sites.”
During the 2019 Missouri River Basin flood recovery operations which hit parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Omaha District was the first in all of USACE history to use the prequalified of sources list for small projects, providing flood response to over 30 levee repair contracts.
“Pre-qualified sources list is a group of contractors who have been vetted by Omaha District to bid on levee repair contracts after the 2019 flood,” said Lee McCormick, Civil Branch Chief, USACE-Omaha District. “PSL is also known as pre-qualified bidding. Right now there are 35 contractors on the PSL for levee repairs. These are the only contractors who can compete for these specific contracts.”
New contractors can be added to the PSL if they submit their qualifications.
“To be clear, PSL is not being used for all of our levee repair contracts,” Lee said. “PSL is used for those contracts that are well enough defined that potential bidders and USACE can estimate a firm fixed-price for the work that is in the specification. They are considered to be a success because they streamline the bidding process from 70 days to about 35 days.”
Currently the PSL is being used for levee repairs on the Platte River, Salt Creek, Papillion Creek, and Elkhorn River tributaries and sometimes on the Missouri River.
Towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, USACE-Omaha District along with FEMA, state and local officials in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota and Nebraska conducted site assessments for potential locations of Alternative Care Facilities.
There were three ACFs built using Rapid Disaster and Infrastructure contracts in Kalispell, Montana, and Denver and Loveland, Colorado.
An RDI contract allows the Omaha District to award contracts to a pool of unrestricted contractors who are pre-selected specifically for emergency situations.
“For COVID-19, the Rapid Disaster and Infrastructure contract allowed us to do time sensitive actions,” said Jeffrey Wyant, cost price analyst, USACE–Omaha District. “These contracts allowed us to select contractors who we already knew had the accounting capabilities to track cost and the resources to respond quickly and mobilize within a few days. Since we have worked with these contractors before, it eliminated the learning curve allowing us to be very efficient when we got to the field.”