DOD plans to revamp Iraq contracting

Brinkley chosen to lead task force to improve processes, systems

'We're looking for three-month deliverables. We're looking to deliver value to the program in three-month increments.'

' Paul Brinkley, Task Force Leader

The Defense Department is trying to bring contracting systems and processes in Iraq under tighter control.

And deputy secretary for Defense Gordon England has tapped one person who has built a reputation for taming the unwieldy.

Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary for business transformation and co-director of the department's Business Transformation Agency, will lead the restructuring effort to better support warfighters on the ground in Iraq.

The organization, called the Task Force to Support Improved DOD Contracting and Stability Operations in Iraq, will not be responsible for actual contracting, but will advise Defense contracting offices on how to improve their processes and use software consistent with statutory and regulatory requirements, according to England's June 22 memo announcing the change.

Brinkley has earned praise for righting the way DOD invests in business systems. This also appears to be a vote of confidence for BTA, which DOD established last October to centrally manage some of the department's largest business programs and provide senior-level oversight.

The Government Accountability Office and others have said the BTA is headed in the right direction after years of fits and starts.

In a July 7 teleconference, Brinkley said the need to revamp contracting procedures in Iraq arises from the difference between peacetime operations and the need for flexibility in a 'contingency' environment such as a war zone or an area hit by natural disaster.

'We have to be much more nimble and agile, and culturally attuned,' Brinkley said.

The task force will look at ways to modernize and adapt existing systems and procedures to better respond to warfighter needs, and accelerate reconstruction efforts and stability operations in Iraq.

'While the law and regulations allow [flexibility], the systems that our people have got haven't been designed for that flexibility,' Brinkley said.

England identified several areas in which the task force will be making recommendations and implementing changes, subject to his approval, including:
  • Deploying a common system and business process for most contingency contract management in Iraq

  • Establishing appropriate contracting authority to meet the needs of Central Command

  • Providing policies, processes and, as required, systems support to ensure effective and rapid command utilization of Commander's Emergency Response Program funds

  • Suggesting potential changes to Federal Acquisition Regulations and DOD FAR supplement to address future contingency operations

  • Identifying appropriate legislative strategies to address statutory issues affecting contingency contracting capabilities

  • Accelerating contingency operations doctrine definition in the business mission area.

'One of the things we 're trying to embed in everything we're doing is to create a rapid deployment mindset in all our business systems modernization efforts,' Brinkley said. 'In this case, we're looking for three-month deliverables. We're looking to deliver value to the program in three-month increments.'

As leader of the task force, Brinkley will draw upon resources from BTA, including shifting 'about a dozen government and industry people that have experience in-theater and/or experience in rapid deployment of business system capability,' he said. The contractors are working under existing contracts within BTA or the Office of Business Transformation, he added.

Thomas Modly, co-director of BTA and deputy undersecretary for financial management, will continue to head the agency.

To support the task force's requirements, Modly and Brinkley implemented some organizational changes to the agency, including disbanding the agency's Information and Federation Strategy Directorate and moving the responsibility for federation strategy to the oversight of Dennis Wisnosky, chief architect of the Business Mission Area within Brinkley's office.

Other management changes include the appointment of Robert Cook as director of agency operations, John O'Brien III as CIO of BTA and Penny Rabinkoff as general counsel for the agency.

GCN senior writer Dawn S. Onley contributed to this story.

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