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News | Jan. 11, 2023

FIRM Center leads agency’s PIEE transfer effort to modernize e-tool standardization, access

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

As part of a Procurement Integrated Enterprise Environment modernization initiative, the Defense Contract Management Agency’s FIRM Center partnered with the agency’s Information Technology and Technical Directorates, along with representatives from regional commands and contract management offices, to modernize contract and administration tools within the PIEE setting.

Functional Information Resources Management, or FIRM, falls within the agency’s Contracts Directorate. The center provides operational automated systems support — functional and technical — to all DCMA organizations and locations.

The PIEE effort seeks to standardize Contract Administration Services by offering regulatory-based and tested capabilities for use by the DCMA workforce, military services and other Defense agencies performing post-award contract administration.

One of the four pillars of agency modernization, along with Department of Defense 365-J, Product Data Reporting and Evaluation Program, and Advana, PIEE is a centrally accessible information technology platform of acquisition — contracting, finance and logistics — and related applications, capabilities and systems designed to streamline electronic business transactions between the various services and agencies from DOD, federal government and industry.

“PIEE promulgates the DOD’s Procure-to-Pay end-to-end e-business vision,” said Erik Mims, FIRM Center director. “PIEE is governed jointly by procurement, financial management and logistics Office of the Secretary of Defense leadership.”

The undertaking required a large multifunctional team from the agency and its outside partners to identify requirements and participate in development.

“It is an involved process, (and) as product owner, we have to navigate developers through the requirements, clarify DCMA’s issues and desires, as well as lead the effort to establish/re-establish system and agency agreements, transaction formats, data element changes, and necessary policy changes,” said Mims. “Testing requires planning (and) a lot of internal and external coordination with personnel from Defense Pricing and Contracting, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Defense Information Systems Agency, and the military services.”

Mims said DCMA has used PIEE since 2003, which helped drive development through its existing program structure such as agreements, testing plans and team familiarity.

“The team has completed five pre-agency prioritization development efforts, completed four development efforts toward DCMA’s top ten priorities, and are currently developing or will soon be developing nine of DCMA’s top 10 priorities,” said Mims. “In addition, training that we developed has been made for enterprise use by DPC.”

Within the PIEE transfer effort, the team completed 13 e-tool development efforts so far, to include: Contract Administration Service Directory, Commercial Item Determination, Shared Data Warehouse Single Sign-On, Contractor Business Analysis Repository, Duty Free Entry and MOCAS Contract Closeout. They have also expanded Government Furnished Property capabilities including plant clearance and property loss and completed the first installment of Modifications and Delivery Orders.

The Audit Tracking and Action Tool, Delivery Schedule Manager, and final Contract Closeout enhancements are under development.

While work continues, success will be measured by internal functionality and external utilization.

“Developing replacement applications within PIEE creates efficiencies for DCMA personnel by reducing administrative burden and work delays related to obtaining and maintaining system access, as PIEE’s Single Sign-On functionality streamlines and condenses processes,” said Ben Schmidt, DCMA FIRM Center deputy director. “The PIEE suite also decreases the number of platforms agency users must access to perform acquisition-related job duties, as mandatory applications like Electronic Data Access and Wide Area Workflow already reside there. Finally, the PIEE suite provides a more reliable, secure and up-to-date platform with access to better data sources and functionality within new applications.”

For external use, a conscious focus centered on the DOD enterprise.

“Agency customers, including the services, defense agencies and contractors, benefit from DCMA’s development of tools in PIEE through access to DCMA’s applications, data and information, as well as collaborating in development to enhance applications to meet their needs,” said Schmidt.

He also highlighted additional initiatives that support all levels of Defense acquisition personnel and said key partnerships throughout the PIEE transfer project continue to prove vital.

“Our goals are to make DOD acquisition more effective and efficient, providing better user experiences, and developing relationships along the way to facilitate this effort,” he said. “We have a long way to go in reaching our goals, but some of the fruits of our labor are beginning to arrive through recent application releases and positive responses from users. This stems from the foundation developed from improved collaboration with developers, the PIEE Program Management Office, Joint Interoperability Test Command, DPC, and other partners. This effort is impossible without these relationships, and the DCMA team has thankfully expanded to include them working toward our common end.”

Mims echoed Schmidt’s sentiment and emphasized the role of teamwork both inside and outside of DCMA.

“The team’s performance has been exemplary, which is no surprise for me because they are very mission focused,” said Mims. “There is much to do, (and) they have worked exceptionally well, filling and addressing gaps when and where necessary. This goes beyond just the FIRM team, additional DCMA personnel who augment product ownership, the DLA PIEE PMO, and the development contractor CACI Enterprise Solutions. Everyone’s active engagement has solved many problems on the fly. I also want to highlight the partnership and team effort between DLA as the system owner, particularly the Program Manager Patrick Knepper and his team; DPC as the functional sponsor; and CACI. We have a very close working relationship with them which has resulted in cost savings and development efficiencies.”

As the PIEE transfer work continues, the joint effort features many e-tools close to release.

“We are excited to finish the Modifications and Delivery Orders module,” said Mims. “It is DCMA’s number one priority and will be operational later this fiscal year. It will deliver data-rich and standardized modifications to our customers that will conform in services and fourth estate next-generation contract writing systems and Electronic Data Access.”

He explained buying commands will no longer have to issue corresponding modifications in their own systems when DCMA issues de-obligation modifications. If a system is using Procurement Data Standard, these modifications will now update it.

“Furthermore, we will no longer run into problems like those that we had when we issued the mass modifications for the COVID-19 Progress Payment class deviation,” said Mims. “Before contractors could start billing, we had to wait for the modifications to populate in EDA and that took a week, now it will happen in real time.”

Audit Issue Tracking and Action Tool will also be released this quarter. It is the team’s largest development thus far and includes combining five e-tools into one.

The PIEE transfer endeavor parallels FIRM’s overall mission. It develops and documents business requirements to improve the agency’s capture, analysis, and reporting of data impacting affordability for DOD decision makers; supports enterprise business solutions by identifying areas for modernization and innovation of automated information systems; conducts testing, training, and maintenance; and performs specific administrative tasks for these systems.