Abstract Landscape background 3d rendered image of topology structure map Highlighting to the transforming landscape of Department of Defense

The Challenges in DoD Proposals
The current state of affairs in government contract proposals is ripe for technological advancement. Both government agencies and industry stakeholders are in agreement about the formidable task it has become to produce and evaluate cost proposals for new development contracts.

Each large Department of Defense (DoD) competitive proposal mandates a large workforce, often operating under stringent timelines. These teams work full-time, dedicating weeks or even months, to generate a Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) compliant cost proposal. The proposal encompasses detailed Basis of Estimates (BOEs) for each task and necessitates multiple pricing runs, giving rise to an intricately complex process.

What amplifies this complexity is the constant churn in the process, where multiple revisions become the norm rather than the exception, leading to the eventual submission of the proposal. The outcome is an overwhelming volume of BOEs and reports, which in turn necessitates weeks of rigorous scrutiny by government evaluation teams. This cyclical pattern underscores the urgency for a transformative solution—one that promises efficiency and accuracy while reducing the burden on cost engineers.

The ‘Speed-to-Contract’ Initiative
Recently, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition (ASD(A)) unveiled the much-anticipated multi-year Defense Contract Finance Study. This study brings with it a groundbreaking ‘Speed-to-Contract’ initiative, spotlighted at the 2023 Government Contract Pricing (GCP) Summit. This initiative underscores the importance of employing new technology to fast-track the contracting process, thereby reducing time, effort, and cost.

It’s no secret that government entities, like the DoD, face hurdles in technology adoption. The intricacies of governmental bureaucracy, entrenched legacy systems, and security considerations frequently impede technological change. Additionally, the diverse needs of various departments and the vast scale of operations pose unique challenges, making tech adoption a deliberate and often slower-paced endeavor—despite it being accepted as a critical component in the future of government contracting.

Parametric Cost Estimation: A Key Solution
One of the key technologies earmarked to bolster the ‘Speed-to-Contract’ initiative is Parametric Cost Estimation. This innovative approach harnesses historical data and mathematical algorithms to provide accurate, data-driven cost estimates, effectively accelerating the cost proposal development and evaluation process.

The ‘Speed-to-Contract’ initiative is an ambitious endeavor that demands support from advanced tools that align with its ethos. As cost engineers, we’re familiar with the complexities of our tasks and the potential relief that well-designed solutions can provide.
The current landscape of cost proposal creation is one that often involves numerous revisions and an intense commitment of labor. The pressing need for a tool that can automate this process, reduce churn, and provide reliable data has become abundantly clear.

While Parametric Cost Estimation Tools, like Unison’s TruePlanning® software, are being adopted by prime contractors and subcontractors, the potential extends beyond these early adopters. Software like TruePlanning® aims to significantly reduce the labor and time involved in cost proposal creation and refinement by incorporating automation and connecting directly with pertinent historical data. The benefit is twofold: it streamlines the current proposal process while simultaneously laying a strong foundation for future bids.

Transparency and Adaptability: Key Tenets of TruePlanning®
Transparency, especially regarding historical data, is a cornerstone of efficient cost estimation. TruePlanning® upholds this principle by maintaining clear visibility of past data. This allows us, as cost engineers, to understand trends and patterns, informing our future estimates, and helps build trust with our customers by providing a standard process with direct linkages back to actual historical cost and basic technical data, as opposed to attempting to ‘game the system.’

Another key consideration is planning for future improvements to the cost proposal process. Our technology already produces Excel-based BOEs, considered by some customers to be a significant step ahead of the classical narrative BOEs, and we look forward to supporting the DoD Digital Thread initiatives in the future, where cost estimates can be directly integrated with product structures in an integrated digital environment. Coupled with this is the necessity to keep pace with dominant methodologies and trends, such as Agile and DevSecOps. It’s essential that our tools and models stay current. TruePlanning® is committed to this adaptability, continuously updating its models to ensure alignment with the latest industry methodologies, ensuring that our cost engineers benefit from the most contemporary and informed estimation techniques.

While we navigate this transformative phase in cost engineering, tools like TruePlanning® can serve as valuable allies. They offer us the possibility of a less labor-intensive, more accurate proposal process—a much-needed evolution in our current practices.