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GCN : December 2013
three tools addresses different theater business applications. TRCER TRCER (Theater Requirements, Contracting, and Execution Reconciliation) is a dashboard application that links databases holding con- tracting, expenditures and other financial data. The tool helps interconnect people, equip- ment and supplies and, in general, supports better decision-making. "TRACR ties a contract to a requirement and also ensures visibility of [funding]," McGrath said. " TRGT While TRCER provides an overview of a con- tract, TRGT, the Theater Requirements Genera- tion Tool, helps commanders generate more ac- curate and timely initial requirements. Using checklists and drop-down menu fea- tures, contract requirements can be articulated more accurately. "People often want things they eventually don't need," McGrath said. TRGT helps commanding officers set and validate re- quirements, "in a much more centralized way as opposed to decentralized way, which was what they were doing," she said. ACOP The Acquisition Common Operating Picture (ACOP) tool supplies a centralized view of the status of construction contracts. Before devel- opment of the tool, each Regional Contracting Center maintained a separate Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or Access database containing re- quirements and contract data. The lack of tools "was just eating their lunch," McGrath said. "Now the commanders have visibility into the contract --- and can meet the mission they were asked to execute." • BY PAUL McCLOSKEY It's no secret that the war in Afghanistan has cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. Some de- scribe a theater that is "awash with cash." But how much of that money ever reached its target or was misdirected in the fog of war remains a mystery. Those questions haven't been lost on the De- fense Department, which, under pressure to change the culture of contracting at DOD, out- lined a strategy in 2012 to reshape its business processes by developing IT tools to help "follow the money" and account for the movement of cash on the battlefield. In taking up the project, the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer developed a suite of software tools that it says has brought significant transparency to contracting by the Army Central Command. "They really lacked a comprehensive busi- ness picture of their contracting requirements," said Elizabeth McGrath, DOD's Deputy Chief Management Officer. Among the unanswered questions were, "how much they had to spend, how much was spent and what were they buy- ing?," she said. A commander looking for a construction contract to meet a requirement typically put out a data call to find out who had a contract available that could meet his requirement. "They didn't know what they didn't know," Mc- Grath said. "What the tools do is put at the fingertips of the commander the ability to know exactly how many contracts he has in place, their period of performance, the financial picture on that con- tract, when it is runs out," McGrath said. "With them, he can make better business decisions on sourcing and procurement." Although they work together, each of the Tools help Army 'follow the money' DOD Deputy Chief Management O ce develops software tools to bring contracting transparency to the theater PROJECT AT A GLANCE PROJECT: Theater Contract Management Business Tools OFFICE: DOD O ce of the Deputy Chief Management O cer, Expeditionary Business Operations TECHNOLOGY USED: Microsoft .NET, SharePoint, Google Maps TIME TO IMPLEMENTATION: 18 Months BEFORE: Commanders in the Afghan theater had no comprehensive view of all the contracts and funding available to them to meet construction and other battlefield requirements. AFTER: Tools are available under one umbrella so that commanders at various regional contracting centers can check the status of contracts across the theater and before and after a contract status change. 32 GCN DECEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM