An interview with Mr. Charlie E. Williams Jr., outgoing director, Defense Contract Management Agency
Mr. Charlie E. Williams Jr. was director of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) from May 2008 until his retirement on Dec. 3, 2013. In that capacity, he led a DOD agency of more than 10,600 civilians and military personnel who execute worldwide contract management responsibilities, covering more than 19,800 contractors and more than $236 billion in unliquidated obligations. This Q&A was originally published in the Fall 2013 edition of ACC Today magazine (http://www.acc.army.mil/news/today/).
Q. How does the Defense Contract Management Agency mission support the Soldier in the field?
A. Our mission is to ensure the delivery of quality products and services to the warfighter on time and on cost. This includes providing products that range from boots to weapon systems, and most everything in between. Today’s operational forces rely on contractors for much of the support they receive on the battlefield. DCMA delivers on-the-ground contingency contract administration services in support of those contracts.
Q. What is the relationship between U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) and DCMA?
A. DCMA supports the Department of Defense acquisition enterprise. As a part of the DOD acquisition enterprise, ACC is a primary customer for DCMA. The agency supports ACC in a variety of ways: providing insight through our integrated cost analysis teams [ICATs], up-to-date information on contractors with the consolidated business analysis repository, and other contract administration services for a wide variety of Army contracts.
DCMA has customer liaison representatives [CLRs] located at each of the Army Contracting Command centers. Having the CLRs at the various ACC locations allows them the ability to provide real-time support when a real-time need arises. Our CLRs provide feedback to our agency on initiatives, goals and objectives. We can then adjust as necessary.
Additionally, DCMA interacts with ACC at the most senior levels. I have met with MG Camille Nichols [ACC commanding general until October 2013] and her senior leaders on two separate occasions to discuss common challenges. Together, we identify opportunities that enable mission success. Our most recent discussions have been focused on topics such as enduring contingency contracting support in a post-overseas contingency operations environment, DCMA’s ICATs, support to the Army’s should-cost initiatives, financial improvement audit readiness and other critical DCMA pricing efforts. As we continue these meetings, we will be focusing on solutions for the challenges that we collectively face.
Q. What is an integrated cost analysis team?
A. As a contribution to DOD’s Better Buying Power initiative aimed at driving affordability and achieving program cost objectives, DCMA has instituted ICATs. The teams are comprised of both business and technical personnel dedicated to all facets of proposal pricing engagement and continuous evaluation of the contractor’s proposal pricing process, with the goal of providing timely support and comprehensive analysis of proposals. The teams are located on-site at specified contractor facilities and are actively engaged with, and knowledgeable of, contractors’ systems. DCMA ICAT assistance ranges from a top-to-bottom proposal pricing report to a specifically tailored pricing product that covers only certain requested evaluation elements.
Q. What is the contract business analysis repository [CBAR], and how is DCMA training ACC personnel on CBAR?
A. DCMA established CBAR to assist procurement contracting officers with contracting efforts, primarily negotiations, through controlled access to timely and comprehensive contractor information to support effective price negotiation prior to contract award. It provides the latest contractor business systems status, and the latest forward pricing rate recommendations and agreements. It also has the most current contractor disclosure statements on file. DCMA has offered CBAR training to ACC contracting personnel. We have provided this training in person and online. We are in the process of scheduling more of these training sessions with each ACC location.
Q. How is DCMA working with ACC in the development of the virtual contracting enterprise (VCE)?
A. DCMA is providing support to ACC as the VCE is under development. The DCMA Information Technology Directorate is sharing some lessons learned and source code for our DCMA property administration eTool with the ACC. Working together like this will enable ACC to build a similar tool in VCE. The long-term vision of the project is to create a data exchange capability that allows information to flow freely between our eTool applications and the ACC’s VCE tools.
Q. How do you think the budget cuts and furloughs will affect the growth of the contracting community?
A. While it is likely that undetermined budget cuts will impact workforce growth in the coming years, substantial progress has already been achieved in areas that provide value-added results to the department’s acquisition enterprise. The work we have done to enrich our overall contracting, pricing and quality assurance workforce is indeed paying dividends. Depending on the size of the yet-to-be-determined budget reductions, we will make appropriate course corrections that seek to first protect the services we deliver that provide the biggest return on investments to the department. When you add planned business efficiencies and other operational improvements, I think we will get through the coming challenges.
Q. How do you view the relationship between DOD and defense suppliers in providing the nation’s warfighters with the services and products they need?
A. I believe the relationship is strong. Both DOD and industry have a common goal of supporting our warfighter, and I don’t think anyone would question the sincere desire to do so in a very big way. That said, as it should be, there is always a healthy set of debate about how best to achieve the national defense capability we need. This tension is necessary to ensure that we strike a healthy balance between many competing priorities.
Q. How is DCMA responding to the automatic budget cuts?
A. As stewards of taxpayers’ dollars, we all must evaluate the requirements and balance them with available resources. The challenge is to provide the goods and services the warfighter needs within the available budget. We must look for ways to meet those needs with fewer dollars. The agency is proactively analyzing and evaluating all services we provide and products we support in the DOD acquisition enterprise. We are being challenged at every level to reduce costs as we look for efficiencies. As we consider the portfolio of services the agency provides, our objective will be to deliver those services in the most efficient manner possible and to deliver value for the DOD dollars invested in the agency.
Q. What changes are ahead for DCMA?
A. While we are planning for and adjusting to future financial pressures, we are also proactively looking for cost-effective solutions and efficiencies to continue the mission with as little disruption as possible. DCMA will continue working through the challenges of consolidating our headquarters functions into the Fort Lee [VA] footprint. Our role in Iraq and Afghanistan will adjust to support the changing DOD requirements in that area of responsibility. Our duties will evolve as the global acquisition enterprise evolves. Lastly, information technology advances will promote effectiveness and productivity within DCMA and for the DOD acquisition workforce.
- MR. CHARLIE E. WILLIAMS JR. entered federal service in 1982 through the Air Force Logistics Command’s Mid-Level Management Training Program and from there served in a variety of contracting and procurement roles for the Air Force, culminating in his assignment as deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for contracting in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, prior to being named DCMA director. A member of the Defense Acquisition Corps, he earned Level III certification in contracting. He holds a B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University, a master of public administration from Tennessee State University and a master of public administration in national resource management from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Williams’ awards and recognitions include a Special Service Award, Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Exceptional Civilian Service Award and Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award.