By Thomas Perry
DCMA Public Affairs
For much of the Defense Contract Management Agency’s workforce, being under PAR has nothing to do with golf.
The Program Assessment Reporting system supports a monthly cycle of program evaluation that includes the agency’s independent risk assessments for major program contracts. It has been a staple agency product for many years. In wake of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics transition to Acquisition and Sustainment, it was time for an upgrade. With its newly-launched PAR redesign, DCMA’s Portfolio Management and Business Integration found the green.
“The system’s old format traced to the former AT&L Defense Acquisition Executive Summary process,” said Eric Palmer, PMBI’s Major Program Support Division director and co-lead of the Integrating Capability’s Program Support Working Group. “With the stand up of A&S and the stand down of AT&L, Acquisition and Sustainment has shifted emphasis away from DAES and over to measuring achievement to the three main tenets of the National Defense Strategy. Since DAES no longer drives the information needs from a program reporting perspective, we saw the opportunity to revise the PAR to better meet those emerging requirements from A&S.”
For Walter Eady, PMBI executive director, the change was driven by another long-term tenet of DCMA: delivering acquisition insight that matters.
“By creating processes, adding a tool to improve program support team collaboration and making it easier to integrate multifunction knowledge, we set ourselves up to contribute more impactful insights to the acquisition community via our program reports,” said Eady, a retired Air Force colonel. “Beyond that, we’ve aligned our program data to support OSD's needs. Agency leadership will be equipped with the best information available to contribute to decisions on lethality, affordability and foreign partner support.”
While the system’s impact stretches globally, the PAR redesign began at home. With a new mission of measuring achievement to the National Defense Strategy, PMBI team members sought to acquire feedback from the agency’s contract management office workforce, as well as other PAR customers: program offices, program executive officers, service acquisition staff and OSD support entities.
“The goal was to capture their information needs before we began redesigning our program reporting processes,” said Palmer.
Eady echoed Palmer’s sentiment regarding end-user input and emphasized the reporting systems strategic-level impact.
“Communication and building a consistent understanding across all levels of the DCMA workforce is always a challenge in big projects like this one,” said Eady. “We want the workforce to understand not just the changes we’re making, but why we’re making those changes. To that end, we held brown bag sessions, leveraged the region staff, published memos and engaged with senior leadership at the commander’s forums. The project was so important that we also added it to the agency’s strategic plan under Initiative 2.4.2.”
—The PAR is now a monthly DCMA product versus quarterly. This will ensure customers receive more frequent updates on program status.
—The new system has implemented a SharePoint-based tool for PAR production rather than continuing with the existing Integrated Workload Management System tool. This will allow users to leverage the SharePoint 2016 capability to auto generate most of the PAR content by pulling data directly from the program support team's collaboration site.
— SharePoint will provide DCMA’s program integration workforce with an all-SharePoint solution for collecting and storing program support data, collaboratively sharing, reviewing functional risks, issues and observations, and building the monthly PAR.
—The format is also being changed to accommodate PAR readers’ desire for a dashboard-style look that allows for quicker visual uptake of information. The new format also better supports OSD's needs. One example of this is the major end items delivery chart.
Palmer emphasized that while changing one of the agency’s more valuable information products may inspire user trepidation, his team took great care during the system's multi-year development process.
“The PST collaboration site has been an evolutionary development that was started in 2016,” he said. “We have incrementally added a new capability leading up to being able to create the PAR almost entirely from information in the PST collaboration site,” he said. “The program integrators and support team members will now reap the benefit of the hard work they have been doing entering various kinds of program data into their site.”
Under the new system, program support will continue to ensure that data remains accessible for multiple agency needs.
“One thing we wanted in the previous PAR was for some of the data to be able to be used outside the PAR for data mining including searching, filtering, combining, etc.,” said Palmer. “We are taking this to another level with the SharePoint PAR as now every part of it is stored in the system and already feeds other reports for the agency and OSD.”
In addition to the multi-year data collection, Major Program Support tested the reporting system during a three-month trial with volunteers from 17 programs. They submitted and completed 40 PARs.
According to PMBI, they received 102 user requests for feature enhancements and bug reports. Major Program Support was able to close out every reported bug and implement many of the feature requests. Of the 102 requests, 88 have been adjudicated and MPS is continuing to work to implement the remaining 14.
“Major Program Support has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the testers,” Palmer said. “When asked what system the users preferred, 92% preferred the SharePoint PAR and 100% believed it was ready for release.”
For more information on the new PAR system, contact the MPS team at email@example.com.
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