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News | Aug. 24, 2017

DLA gets running start providing new recruits athletic footwear

By Mikia Muhammad DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support got a running start to provide athletic footwear to military recruits for the first time by educating potential vendors about doing business with DLA.

Clothing and Textiles hosted a pre-proposal meeting with representatives from nine shoe manufacturers Aug. 17 to discuss solicitation requirements for the first solicitation of American-made athletic footwear.

As a result of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, DLA Troop Support must buy athletic footwear that complies with the Berry Amendment by December 2018. The Berry Amendment requires the Department of Defense to purchase certain items, including food and clothing, from American manufacturers.

Troop Support issued a solicitation of four separate contracts for more than one million pairs of athletic footwear in late July. The solicitation is scheduled to close mid-September. Delivery of the footwear to new recruits will take place over a three-year period and will replace the cash allowances recruits currently use to purchase athletic footwear, said Kevin Peoples, C&T organizational clothing division chief.

“Timely execution of this procurement action is essential to comply with the NDAA and to ensure uninterrupted support to new recruits and their training regimes,” Peoples said. “The pre-proposal conference provides an open forum for two-way communication between the government and industry, and an expedited means for updating, correcting or clarifying the government’s requirements and industry's understanding of those requirements.”

Troop Support contracting and technical quality representatives, along with program executive office counterparts from the Army and Air Force, reviewed the solicitation and answered vendors’ questions.

Program management and engineering support offices from both services crafted the purchase descriptions outlining detailed performance requirements for four types of athletic footwear for both genders, a total of 528 new national stock numbers, or footwear items, Peoples explained.  

“While this new requirement presents a wonderful opportunity to increase work for the domestic industrial base,  the aggressive timelines between solicitation and our target award dates also present significant challenges for both the industry and the government,” Peoples said.

Debra Mclean, footwear program manager for the human systems division at PEO Agile Combat Support, agreed. Mclean is an Air Force liaison at the Army Natick Soldier Systems Center for clothing and textiles programs.

“I think [this meeting] is extremely important for [an acquisition] that is short-term, with high visibility and an accelerated acquisition plan, for the industry as well as us trying to meet a challenging congressional directive,” Mclean said.

A consultant with shoe manufacturer New Balance, William McCann, said the meeting was useful.

“I thought it was very helpful,” McCann said. “[Presenters] shared a lot of information and answered a lot of industry’s questions.”

In addition to presenting information and answering questions, C&T representatives also held 10-minute breakout sessions for one-on-one discussions with vendors.

Darryl Bubar, San Antonio Shoes director of operations, wished the breakout sessions were longer but found the overall forum helpful.

“I thought it was very good,” Bubar said. “We’re kind of novices to this, and it’s helped a lot so far. I liked that we submitted the questions and they went through and provided the feedback.”