Questions & Answers
Q&A with USfalcon,
Vice President Pre-Award Center and S3 Program
Director John Black
USfalcon, Inc., formerly Mill City Connections,
Inc. (MCCI), was recently awarded the Strategic Services
Sourcing (S3) contract. S3 supports the U.S. Army, Communications-Electronics
Life Cycle Management Command (C-E LCMC) at Fort Monmouth,
NJ and Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD in coordination
with the Command, Control, Communications, Computers,
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR)
community. As one of seven prime contractors, USfalcon
will compete with Booz Allen and Hamilton, Computer
Sciences Corporation, CACI Technologies, Lockheed Martin,
Sensor Technologies, and ViaTech for $19.25 billion
in task orders over the next ten years. Mr. John Black,
USfalcon, Inc. Vice President and S3 Program Director
recently spoke with 3Dsolve about the S3 program, and
small business opportunities in government contracting.
In your own words,
tell me about USfalcon.
USfalcon is a Veteran company, made
up of current and former Army leaders, providing service
to a primarily Army customer base. The top 10 leaders
in the company are retired Colonels or Lieutenant
Colonels who are looking to build this company by
continuing to provide high-quality, best-value services.
The company started out by word-of-mouth to our Army
customers, and looks to expand to the Air Force, Navy,
and even commercial customers.
Originally, the company was a hardware
reselling company of six employees. When I joined
in August of 2004, I was about the 11th employee.
Since then the company has grown to 72 employees as
of August 2006, where 75 percent of the employee base
has some sort of military experience (Army, Marines,
Air Force, etc.).
Since winning the S3 award in March,
we have been going after task orders. Weve already
won two and have another four or five in the queue.
Can you talk specifically about the
S3 is a large, Indefinite Delivery,
Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ), Army-based contract that
was awarded to seven prime contractors supporting
the CE LCMC out of Fort Monmouth, NJ.
There were a lot of services contracts
(Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), GSA Schedules,
and other DoD contracts) that were expiring. Quite
literally $10-11billion flows through Fort Monmouth
every year for services and materials. The Acquisition
Center there created the S3 competition. S3 was originally
supposed to be awarded to 10 primes, but was actually
awarded to only seven prime contractors: four large
businesses and three small businesses (including USfalcon).
So, how did USfalcon go after this
We decided that our best approach was
to pull together a best of breed collection
of partners. We reached out to other companies that
Peter (von Jess) and the rest of our management team
knew. We didnt necessarily look for companies
that were as well known in the larger DoD community.
Instead, we looked for companies with a proven track
record and core capabilities that complemented the
rest of the team. In the end, we built a team, of
predominantly Small Businesses, that can respond to
all of the S3 requirements. Together, we have the
right skill sets to do so, and believe that Team USfalcon
is the Small Business Partner of Choice.
How many companies are members of the
USfalcon, Inc. S3 team?
Its a large number. The original
proposal submitted included 54 companies. Now, after
receiving the S3 award we have been approached by
dozens of companies to join our team as vendors. There
is a full list on our website (www.usfalcon.com),
but I think its upwards of 90 companies now.
How will all of those companies work
together? What was the vision you had in mind of pulling
together these best-in- breed companies?
If youre familiar with the large
companies in this industry, for example Lockheed Martin,
Booz Allen and Hamilton, CSC; thats who were
going up against.
As tasks orders come out we have a great
bunch of small businesses that deliver the same high
quality (as the large companies). These small businesses
can offer customers what they want at a better value
for the government. Today Im working on one
(task order) that combines two small companies that
will go head-to-head with one of the Large Business
Teams. You never know if we are going to win or not
Only time will tell. This is not a sprint; its
a ten year marathon.
What role does simulation learning
play specifically in regards to the S3 contract, and
also within the military in general?
The military today is full of a generation
of kids who grew up on video games. Clearly we are
a nation at waran Army at war. While the Army
must always be budget conscious, they face even more
financial constraints during wartime. Training budgets
and funding allocated to those programs often have
to take a backseat behind paying for new equipment,
Simulation technology offers a more cost effective
way to achieve training goals. You cannot put everybody
in tanks, Bradleys or Stryker vehicles for full training
operations out in the field. You are burning too much
gas, buying too many spare parts, taking soldiers
out to the field for too long ... 3D simulation becomes
critical in training soldiers.
Do you know what role simulation learning
will play in the S3 contract, or is that yet to be determined?
That is yet to be determined. We have
a broad customer base and as we get to know our customers
and what they need when, Ill have a better idea
of when requirements might come out for 3D simulation.
At any given day, an RTEP could pop up to which we
would have to respond with some sort of 3D simulation
solution. We certainly have our eyes open for that
requirement, and I think it is going to be quite a
necessity. 3D simulation is going to expand, especially
if the war continues and there is even more pressure
to reduce training costs.
What other trends do you see happening
within the military and initiatives like the S3 award?
Speaking from the contractors
side, the really large traditional companies are going
to feel the heat to provide the very same service
at a lower price. There is always a lot of pressure
at those large companies to maintain large revenues.
Obviously, the large companies build the ships and
planes; and will always have a place with the military
but today, more so than ever before, there is a great
opportunity for smaller businesses.
Up to $11 billion flows through Fort
Monmouth each year. There are a lot of companies out
there, most small businesses. Within the Defense Contracting
industry it is tough to figure out whats going
to happen. Every time the Army or one of the services
gets a new leader, doctrine changes, contracts change
and requirements change. Right now the Army is going
through another transformation. It used to take the
Army 10-11 years to roll out a new technology. That
is definitely not the case now. Today, with more modularity
and downsizing of total forces, there is a greater
demand for new technologies to meet a variety of needs.
This need for cutting edge technology and innovation
open up a bunch of new opportunities for small businesses
that have the flexibility to deliver more quickly
and cost effectively.
Do you think small businesses are more
innovative and can bring those technologies to market
Absolutely! They are definitely more
flexible. Im not saying that small businesses
are always more innovative but I think they can be
as innovative as larger companies with lower costs
and lower overhead.
About John Black
Graduating from the United States Military Academy in
1983 and later from Carnegie Mellon University with
his MBA, John Black served in the Army in a variety
of missions in the Field Artillery branch before retiring
in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After retiring
from the Army, Mr. Black worked for Computer Sciences
Corporation (CSC) as a Program Manager (PM) for the
U.S. Armys Communications-Electronics Life Cycle
Management Command (C-E LCMC) Rapid Response (CR2) contract.
In just 17 months at CSC, Mr. Blacks program won
80 tasks orders totaling more than $500 million of contract
ceiling. Following great success at CSC, Mr. Black joined
Mill City Connections, Inc. (MCCI) in August 2004, later
becoming USfalcon, Inc. in January 2006. Mr. Black is
the USfalcon, Inc. Vice President of the Pre-Award Center
and the S3 Program Director.
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