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News | June 8, 2017

ConCISE delivers contract search accuracy

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

Life at Defense Contract Management Agency just improved for anyone involved with contract receipt and review.

The Process Development Office has deployed ConCISE — an application designed to accurately search contracts for targeted requirements. After a completed search, the app automatically produces a findings report with the page and line number of each requirement and a corresponding Microsoft Word document annotating the requirement location.

“With these two artifacts, the contract receipt and review agent can quickly verify all valid contract requirements and produce a standardized requirements report,” said Army Maj. Michael Pottratz, DCMA’s Business Process Deployment lead.

ConCISE, which is shortened from Contract Capture Integrated Summary Enhancement, owes its origins to a team of seasoned acquisition professionals — the Business Process Re-engineering 1: Contract Receipt and Review. After feedback from the field identified a need for standardization and improved capabilities, the BPR 1 team went to work.

“The contract receipt and review team realized our agency needed a tool that could scan through the text in our contracts and highlight key requirements,” said Pottratz. “Over the past two years the team compiled a list of 1,300 key clauses and text phrases. To test our theory, we created ConCISE.”

Kara Bennett, a DCMA Syracuse administrative contracting officer located in Buffalo, New York, spoke to the requirement identification challenges that ultimately launched the application’s creation process.

“Prior to ConCISE, there wasn’t an agency recommended job aide to assist in identifying contractual requirements during contract receipt and review,” said Bennett. “Contract receipt and review was not standardized across the agency. As acquisition professionals, we were relying on locally developed contract management office checklists or individually developed checklists.”

As the team worked to remove localized variation, the app received its first major test in July 2016.

“We uploaded a 1,300-page U.S. Air Force contract into ConCISE,” said Pottratz. “It took 22 minutes to identify the contractual requirements, identify the page and line number of where that requirement was located. I believe this product has the capability to save our agency thousands of labor hours, but most importantly, increase our accuracy of contract requirement identification.”

PDO field-tested ConCISE at DCMA Boston and DCMA Hartford. Pottratz and his team used the testing process to continually refine the app by analyzing team member assessments from the functional areas that perform receipt and review. Based on test-user response the refinement process is working. A test-user herself, Bennett was impressed with her hands-on experience.

“I have used ConCISE when performing contract receipt and review, and I am amazed at how quick and accurate the results are when used on complex contractual documents,” she said. “ConCISE provides standardization to the contract receipt and review process. It produces a consolidated document which summarizes the review results and identifies where in the document specific requirements are located.”

Pottratz and his team are proud of this and similar user-submitted reviews. He attributed the app’s current performance to the development team’s drive and initiative, as well as the “tremendous support” DCMA Boston and DCMA Hartford provided.

Knowing that ease-of-use would be just as important to performance at launch, the PDO strove for simplistic functionality throughout ConCISE’s development. Carolyn Hitt, a supply management specialist at PDO, said a typical user overcomes the learning curve within three uses.

The development team also produced a collection of training material to support wide-range accessibility. The current library of training includes a video, animated slide shows, step-by-step written instructions and an app capabilities operations manual.

As users across the agency familiarize themselves and begin to utilize ConCISE, PDO expects a high return on its investment, but no matter how successful it is, the app can never fully replace the human element of contract receipt and review.

“ConCISE does not replace the need to perform a manual contract review, but rather it is a tool to assist in effectively identifying contractual requirements with a greater degree of accuracy,” Bennett explained. “I think it is important to stress that the ConCISE application is not only of benefit to the contract administration function, but it will be advantageous to all functional specialists who perform receipt and review.”

PDO is counting on the combined efforts of ConCISE’s 95 percent search accuracy rate and the astuteness of DCMA’s contract receipt and review agents to positively impact mission capabilities.

“It is our mission to be the independent eyes and ears of the (Department of Defense), delivering actionable acquisition insight from the factory floor to the front line,” said Bennett. “I believe ConCISE provides functional specialists the ability to identify contractual requirements for oversight from the time of award to acceptance. ConCISE will also provide greater accuracy in identifying contractual deficiencies up front to minimize any delays later in the acquisition lifecycle, which could impact on-time delivery and/or contract close-out.”

For more information on ConCISE including app access and available training materials, check out its DCMA 360 page (login required).