TSIS 2019 attendance was down, but plenty of US military training contract opportunities are available. MS&T’s Chuck Weirauch monitored the event.
It was clear that the heady days are gone when hundreds of new contract opportunities were announced – judging from the lower than usual number of attendees, fewer than 800, at the 2019 Training & Simulation Industry Symposium (TSIS) in Orlando, Florida in mid-June. So too the conference agenda; instead of a nearly three-day show packed with presenters citing new contract outlines, the two-day event featured a greater number of industry panels and roundtable discussions. TSIS 2019 did, however, draw what may have been a record number of exhibitors, 23.
Still Billions Available
Initial impressions can be deceiving, however. The US Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Office (PEO STRI) did not offer the multitude of new contracts as it had in the recent past, but the training agency still informed the TSIS crowd that a number of high-value contract renewals are available. Two new competitive contracts have a total estimated value of over $1.4 billion, for example. The Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) continues to be in a growth period, with at least $2 billion in contract value and obligations on the docket for the near future.
On TSIS Day One, PEO STRI Program Executive Officer BG Michael Sloane outlined the Service’s overall focal points of concentration; readiness, modernization and reform. He also emphasized PEO STRI’s current and near-future priorities, which include the Synthetic Training Environment (STE); modernization of the Combat Training Centers (CTCs); the Persistent Cyber Training Environment (PCTE); Medical Modeling and Simulation; strengthening alliances; and attracting new partners.
MG Maria Gervais, Director of the STE Cross Functional Team (STE-CFT) now headquartered in Orlando, said that her program faces “lots of tough problems to solve,” but is offering several contract opportunities for industry partners to help STE-CFT meet those challenges.
One of PEO STRI’s new opportunities is the eight-year, estimated $957-million Cyber Training, Readiness, Integration, Delivery and Enterprise Technology (CYBER TRIDENT) contract for Army-wide cyber training development that would also support the US Cyber Command. This single-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract has a scheduled first-quarter FY 2020 RFP release, with an award planned for first-quarter 2021.
Another major opportunity is for the full-and-open competition contract for the 10-year, $450- to $500-million Joint Land Component Constructive Training IDIQ, with a third-quarter fiscal year 2019 RFP release. Yet another major competitive contract (now under source selection) is the 10-year, $896-million Modernizing Instrumentation Solutions for Test and Evaluation (MISTE) IDIQ, with a third-quarter FY 2019 RFP and third-quarter 2020 contract award.
On TSIS Day Two, CAPT Tim Hill, Commanding Officer of NAWCTSD, provided a State of the Command address. He reported that his organization is continuing to grow in the amount of business its conducts, citing $959 million in total contract value as of May, with a planned estimated total of more than $1.44 billion through FY 2019. To help meet the demands of this workload, NAWCTSD has seen a 13% growth in its federal civilian workforce, along with a 15% growth in the number of its contractor employees, a total of nearly 1,500. The focus of this work will continue to be the support of fleet readiness as it expands, live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training, the Service’s Life-Long-Learning programs and cyber security, Hill summarized.
Mike Merritt, NAWCTSD Deputy Technical Director, pointed out some major focal areas for the division, including more emphasis on simulator upgrades, rather than new training systems. Other focal areas include LVC, the Surface Training Advanced Virtual Environment (STAVE), and cyber as well as physical security. Some major near-future contract actions include the $1.75-billion Field Training System Support (FTSS) V multi-award contract, with a second-quarter 2021 RFP release and a second-quarter FY 2022 contract award.
Some other competitive offerings include the $200-million Advanced Computer-Based Training Systems Multi-Award contract, with an RFP scheduled for the second-quarter FY 2020, and a contract award projected for the fourth quarter of that year. Eric Pfefferkorn, NAWCTSD Ready, Relevant Learning (RRL) Integrated Product Team Lead, described some of the upcoming Sailor 2025 RRL Content Conversion contracts under NAWCTSD’s designated responsibility.
LTCOL Gary Roos, Material Leader and Branch Chief over the Special Operations Forces (SOF)/Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Simulator Program Office, reported that his office managed approximately $3.3 billion of contract actions in FY 2018. He also described some recent contract initiatives undertaken, which include those in the areas of Distributed LVC; the Fresh Adaptive Scenarios for Training (FAST) program; emerging technologies such as augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR); artificial intelligence (AI); and cloud computing. This work has been conducted in the office’s technology incubator, Roos explained.
Roos also outlined the office’s Simulators Pitch Day. This event will be held at the 2019 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in December (see our I/ITSEC preview on page 12). Pitch Day will be an opportunity for small businesses to demonstrate their innovative solutions to help resolve some of the “toughest problems” to incorporating emerging technologies into simulation-based training, such as cloud-based simulators, Roos reported. (Air Force contract opportunities were described in May at the Simulation & Training Community Forum held in Dayton, Ohio. Proceedings for that event can be found at www.trainingsystems.org).
TSIS attendees were also reminded that the current Air Force Modeling and Simulation Support Service contract will expire in June 2020. The total value of this upcoming competitive contract renewal is estimated to vary between $350 to $650 million, according to CAPT Robert Epstein, Commander of the Air Force Agency for Modeling & Simulation (AFAMS). He advised the audience to keep checking the Federal Business Opportunities website (https://www.fbo.gov/) for any notifications, since the Air Force, as of this writing, has not made any formal announcements on this contract renewal.
While no contract value information was available at the TSIS for a number of Marine Corps Program Manager for Training Systems (PMTRASYS) contract renewals, the agency’s Program Manager, COL Lou Lara, was able to provide RFP and contract award schedules. That information is in the adjacent list of overall contract opportunities.
Originally published in Issue 4-5, 2019 of MST Magazine.