• Continuous process improvement coming to your nearest ACC field office

    A.D. Barksdale (left) and J.R. Richardson, Army Contracting Command Operations Group, discuss the continuous process improvement methodology with Steven Bryant and Maggi Combs, ACC – Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (Photo by Betsy Kozak)

    By Ms. Dawn M. Scott

     

    The Army Contracting Command (ACC) has established a continuous process improvement (CPI) team in its Operations Group that will assist with the implementation of initiatives throughout the command.

    “The goal of the CPI program is to document, analyze and improve all of our processes, measure our success along the way and to take the organization to increasingly higher levels of performance. High-performing organizations improve employee morale and customer satisfaction,” said J.R. Richardson, ACC Operations Group director. “I have established very effective Lean Six Sigma programs at other organizations, and I can attest to the great things that CPI programs can do for organizations.”

    Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a managerial concept focused on eliminating sources of waste and activities that do not add value to create maximum productivity in an organization.

    ACC’s CPI team is led by A.D. Barksdale, CPI deployment director. Barksdale and the CPI team are helping ACC executive directors and commanders prepare strategic plans that will improve areas within their organizations.

    “The CPI tool sets, combined with proper formalized training, will help commands achieve their strategic goals and enable auditable, repeatable and agile contracting business processes,” Barksdale said.

    Barksdale is a Department of the Army-certified LSS Master Black Belt. The belts—green, black and master black belts—represent the level of training and experience a candidate has.

    According to Barksdale, Rebecca Weirick, executive director, ACC – Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is already using the CPI methodology to develop and implement her own strategic plan.

    “The ACC headquarters, in conjunction with Aviation and Missile Command CPI teams, are assisting Weirick in identifying potential LSS green belt and black belt candidates as well as securing spaces in the approved training for those candidates. The teams are also helping her identify potential CPI projects imbedded within her strategic plan,” Barksdale said.

    LEADERSHIP KEYS SUCCESS
    Training a LSS belt candidate takes time and commitment, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs, Richardson said.

    “Commanders and center directors should consider employees who are already reviewing contracting packages and work products, conducting and leading peer reviews or writing and implementing policy within your organizations,” Richardson said. “These are people who already know and understand existing processes, therefore they will be most effective when you are trying to implement CPI.”

    Ultimately, said Richardson, success of the CPI program lies with each organization’s leadership.

    “This is their program. The success it will bring to their organizations, and to ACC as a whole, is contingent on leadership. Our role at the headquarters is to assist them in implementing an effective CPI program in their respective organizations,” Richardson said.

    ACC’s CPI team is working with the centers and subordinate commands to identify points of contact to help administer the CPI program at the local level. The team is also trying to provide the necessary resources to train personnel at each location so each organization can become self-sufficient in process improvement, Richardson said.

    He said the ACC CPI team will be conducting staff assistance visits during fiscal year 2014 to help executive directors and commanders develop opportunities via project identification and selection workshops. Also during these visits, the team will conduct CPI executive leadership training that outlines the ways in which management can encourage and support Lean Six Sigma candidates who are executing projects on their behalf.

    “Many of the centers and field offices are already doing fantastic work on process improvements, but not necessarily in a standardized, repeatable way,” Richardson said. “Our goal is to provide information and assistance to center directors and commanders regarding LSS belt candidates and project selection, training opportunities, process mapping and other LSS tools so that they can implement successful programs at the local level.”

    NEW CLASSES PLANNED
    This fiscal year the ACC team is developing an “Introduction to Lean” course that will be incorporated into the Contracting Officer Refresher Course and the Contracting Intern Boot Camp, Richardson said.

    “Exposure to CPI principles in the early phase of contracting training will enable the junior workforce to embrace methodologies that will assist them throughout their careers, and in the drive to meet the 2020 strategic goals,” Barksdale said.

    For more information regarding the CPI program, go to the CPI page on the ACC SharePoint portal.

     


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  • ‘FOCUSING ON SOLUTIONS’

    A COMMON GOAL
    DOD and industry share the goal of supporting the warfighter and work together to accomplish it. SGT Sharmella Andrews discusses the status of shipments of crates and containers off Kandahar Air Field with a civilian contractor. Soldiers and civilian contractors are working together conducting retrograde operations as the drawdown in Afghanistan continues. (U.S. Army photo by CPL Clay Beyersdorfer)

    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.

    “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.”

    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.

    CLOSER INSPECTION
    DCMA constantly evaluates requirements and balances them against resources. PFC Dewayne M. Johnson, a fuel noncommissioned officer with the 1438th Transportation Company in support of Task Force Lifeliner, conducts a visual inspection of a fuel distribution point during their monthly fuel audit, Sept. 17, 2013, at Forward Operating Base Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan. The purpose of this audit is to ensure gain and losses are being tracked. (U.S. Army photo by SGT Sinthia Rosario, Task Force Lifeliner Public Affairs)

    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?

    SKYFALL
    Looking for better ways to do things is just good business. For example, using air rather than ground transportation for supply delivery in Afghanistan increased efficiency and kept Soldiers off the road and out of harm’s way. U.S. Army SGT Justin Allen, left, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and SPC Ariel Napoles, an artillery mechanic, both assigned to the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, tighten parachute cord around a cargo bundle used in low-cost, low-altitude aerial resupply missions, at Fort Hood, TX, July 15, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by SSG John Couffer)

    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.

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  • Coming Soon: New application designed to assist military contracting professionals

    The new site will consolidate multiple contracting resources into one. Photo courtesy of Larry McCaskill.

    By Larry McCaskill

     

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — According to Army Contracting Command officials, a new “go to” site will essentially eliminate the need to consult multiple resources on the web for contracting tools and information.

    “The Mapping Acquisition and Procurement Process (MAP) application is web-enabled with a stand-alone capability,” said Lisle Lennon, Policy Division ACC Operations Group. “This initiative maps the entire contracting process while managing team expectations of all stakeholders.

    “The application will provide a structured roadmap of the contracting process enabling inexperienced practitioners to access information on their own. It will be a collaboration site for the centralized dissemination and storage of regulations, policies, tools, and templates, and contain links for training materials and other resources such as news articles.”

    “It will be a collaboration site for the centralized dissemination and storage of regulations, policies, tools, and templates, and contain links for training materials and other resources such as news articles.”

    Lennon said the application’s primary purpose is to be a ready resource for the total acquisition team and its stakeholders.

    “There is consistent focus on moving this forward with the first modules into production to go live in early fiscal year 2014,” Lennon said.

    An around-the-clock source, the application is designed to assist the user by blending the “how to do it” with the “have to do it and here is how.”

    Lennon said the MAP application is regulation-reinforced, outcome-oriented, and process-based with a robust search/research tool. It will reside on the operations group SharePoint site and provide end-to-end contracting solutions for the entire acquisition team. SharePoint is accessible to those with a Department of Defense common access card and user privilege is determined by authorized permissions.

    In addition, Lennon said the application will capture lessons learned and best practices across the entire command and leverage current resources and information-sharing efforts, to include forums to connect with seasoned contracting professionals on questions and issues.

    Access AL&T Editor’s note: Army Contracting Command officials expect the application to launch early next year.

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  • USAASC announces contracting NCO reclassification board results

    Fort Belvoir, Va. (June 5, 2013) – Forty-nine candidates were selected for reclassification during the 51C Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) reclassification board here May 14-15.

    The board was administered by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) 51C Proponent Office.

    “This was an impressive group of candidates and the competition was tough,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Maneri, FA 51C Proponent Officer. The 49 selected NCOs represent the best of the best and we welcome them into the Army acquisition workforce.”

    The board’s purpose is to ensure the best qualified NCOs are selected for reclassification into Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 51C (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Contracting NCO)—a part of the Army acquisition, logistics and technology workforce.

    “We were impressed by the quality of the packets we received for the May board, said Master Sgt. Jason Pitts, Chief 51C Proponent NCO. “The word has spread that we only select best quality NCOs to enter the Acquisition Corps—in order to be selected, you need to be a proven leader with a solid foundation of civilian education; a total Soldier.”

    The primary mission for 51C NCOs is to deploy as contingency contracting officers and serve as members of the early entry module contingency contracting team. When not deployed, selected NCOs will serve as contingency contracting officers in support of a headquarters, principal assistant responsible for contracting, contracting support brigades, contingency contracting battalions, and/or installation contracting offices for training and mission support.

    The 51C Proponent Office at USAASC would like to congratulate the following NCOs:

    Staff Sgt. Corey L. Anderson Sgt.(P) Alejandro Moreno
    Staff Sgt. Dan E. Bayan Staff Sgt. Tri B. Nguyen
    Staff Sgt. Jennifer L. Becker Staff Sgt. Kassandra N. Oldacre
    Staff Sgt. Jason W. Bufkin Staff Sgt. Thomas B. Parks
    Staff Sgt. Christopher C. Carbin Staff Sgt. Anthony K. Pylant
    Staff Sgt. Anuresh A. Chand Staff Sgt. Payten E. Redfearn
    Staff Sgt. Charles A. Cryoskie Staff Sgt. Patrick F. Reil
    Staff Sgt. Charles A. Desouza Staff Sgt. Tyler B. Sane
    Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Dickson Staff Sgt. Justin P. Sawicki
    Staff Sgt. Richard T. Dybdahl Staff Sgt. Brandon F. Searles
    Staff Sgt. Justin M. Fortado Staff Sgt. Jason D. Shettles
    Staff Sgt. Jennifer E. Franks Staff Sgt. Emilio G. Silvafigueroa
    Staff Sgt. Jennings B. Herbst Staff Sgt. Nathaniel J. Stone
    Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Hoover Staff Sgt. Adela Tacla
    Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Johnson Staff Sgt. Kyle G. Tate
    Staff Sgt.(P) Raina J. Jones Staff Sgt. Jerri A. Taylor
    Staff Sgt.(P) Ralph M. Jones Staff Sgt. Princessunique Thomas
    Staff Sgt. Patrick V. Kennison Staff Sgt. Charlee R. Thousand
    Staff Sgt.(P) Vincent M. LaHara Staff Sgt. John R. Tigue
    Staff Sgt. Mark D. Laity Staff Sgt.(P) Scott W. Voigt
    Staff Sgt. Ray Lee Jr. Staff Sgt. Daniel W. Wagner
    Staff Sgt. Bunnie K. Martinez Staff Sgt. (P) Daniel M. Wilson
    Staff Sgt. Raul Medina Staff Sgt. Mark C. Wirtz
    Staff Sgt. Thomas E. Misner Staff Sgt. Lymari Woodson
    Staff Sgt. Ikaisherron D. Wright

     
    There is one remaining reclassification board for this fiscal year scheduled for July 30-31. The deadline for packet submission is July 19.

    For more information on MOS 51C reclassification, visit http://asc.army.mil.

    Links:
    Click for MOS 51C reclassification instructions and FAQs.
     


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  • Guidance clarifies mandatory sources for contracted services

    From left, MICC small business specialists Annette Arkeketa-Rendon, Rosa Elmore and Deborah Word build awareness of policies during a 2012 internal business meeting in San Antonio. MICC small business specialists play a key role as advocates for American small business and nonprofit agencies in the acquisition process. (Photo courtesy of MICC Public Affairs)

    By Daniel Elkins

     

    JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (April 12, 2013) — Acquisition workforce members in the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) are following revised procedures aimed at ensuring equitable consideration between small businesses and nonprofit agencies for award of Army contracts.

    The MICC command policy memorandum on the required sources for the acquisition of service published March 18 provides explicit guidance on contracting sources to ensure appropriate acquisition strategy decision-making by MICC contracting officers, according to Lynette Ward, an assistant director for MICC Small Business Programs here.

    The guidance also ensures procurement actions meet statutory requirements established by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Part 8 of the FAR identifies required sources of supplies and services while Part 19 implements the use of small business programs.

    “It clarifies mandatory source procedures, stresses the importance of adequate market research, and provides a standardized decision-making process when developing acquisition strategies,” she said. “This will enable contracting officers to appropriately satisfy their zest for supporting both the AbilityOne program and maximizing opportunities for small business.”

    The policy requires members of the contracting workforce to accomplish necessary planning and market research to provide for the acquisition of commercial items and promote full and open competition to ensure that customer requirements are being met in the most efficient, effective, economical and timely manner. Procurement planning includes a determination of what sources exist to meet the government’s needs. The number and nature of the sources factor into that procurement strategy.

    The Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act requires the government to purchase available supplies or services on a procurement list from participating nonprofit agencies at prices established by the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. Those services may include janitorial and custodial, administrative, document management, call centers, fleet management, warehousing and distribution of federal supplies, full facility management, recycling, food service, laundry, and grounds maintenance.

    The commission sets and approves a fair market price for products and services on the procurement list when purchased from designated nonprofit agencies. For a commodity or service to be added to the procurement list, a set of criteria must be satisfied in accordance with federal codes.

    The FAR allows contracting officers to acquire services not on the procurement list from other sources. AbilityOne nonprofit agencies may continue to compete for such contracts without preference or priority unless a potential agency has its own status under a socioeconomic program.

    Ward said small business specialists located at MICC contracting offices throughout the nation are called upon to engage early in the acquisition process to provide guidance to contracting personnel and customers on the consideration of small business.

    “Supporting both the AbilityOne Program as well as small business programs such as woman-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses assists in strengthening our nation’s economy,” Ward said.

    She added the clarifying policy, available at the MICC SharePoint site, also benefits the command’s mission partners with the timely delivery of customer service.

    “Having clear guidance will expedite the procurement process, allowing contracting officers to engage the most effective strategies to meet customer needs,” Ward said.

    The MICC is responsible for providing contracting support for the warfighter throughout Army commands, installations and activities located throughout the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Its primary supported activities include the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army North, U.S. Army Reserve Command and U.S. Army Medical Command.

    In fiscal 2012, the command executed more than 58,000 contract actions worth more than $6.3 billion across the Army, including more than $2.6 billion to small businesses. The command also managed more than 1.2 million Government Purchase Card Program transactions valued at an additional $1.3 billion.


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  • NCOs, Meet Charlie, the MOS with the Most

    MOS 51C offers NCOs what may just be the best opportunity in the Army

     

    By Steve Stark

     

    There’s more than meets the eye in the world of contracting and “Charlie” has a lot to offer. The Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) 51C classification trains noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to be contracting professionals, provides significant career and educational opportunities, and is one of the few areas of the Army that is expected to grow in the near term. But for Master Sgt. Jason Pitts, the thing that really caught his eye was a map.

    Specifically, it was the chart of all the missions that 51C supported. The chart, he said, showed “where contracting guys were, whether it was Australia, Japan, Mongolia—and to me that was like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome. I can go see all these cool places and still support the warfighter and make an impact?’ That was the ‘aha moment,’ ” said Pitts, chief proponent NCO for MOS 51C at the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC), the proponent for 51C reclassification and the agency responsible for ensuring a trained and ready contracting NCO corps.

    Pitts said that the variety of things a contracting NCO could do, and the variety of places the NCO could go to do them, piqued his interest because “a lot of guys get stuck in the same experiences over and over again. You go to unit, you go to the National Training Center [Fort Irwin, Calif.] or the Joint Readiness Training Center [Fort Polk, La.] and you prepare. You go to gunnery, you prepare. You go to Afghanistan. You come back a year later, and you start it all again.” For Pitts, the option of doing something that was vital to Soldiers, but that also got him out of that routine, looked like a winner. “The contracting command was in 49 different countries last year, doing 86 different missions supporting the warfighter,” he said.

    “The NCOs in this MOS come from all branches of the Army which enables them to understand the unique requirements of a specific unit.”

    WORLDWIDE ASSIGNMENTS
    The NCO contracting corps offers a promising career path and is ripe with opportunity to serve in a variety of locations.

    “Opportunities are endless,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John L. Murray of U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC). “After completing the basic contracting course, NCOs are assigned to a contracting office where they first focus on becoming proficient in simplified acquisitions and are then able to progress and hold positions starting as a contingency contracting NCO all the way to the rank of command sergeant major.” Murray is the ACC command sergeant major and advises the ACC commanding general on all enlisted‐related matters, particularly in areas affecting Soldier training and quality of life.
    And those positions are in a variety of locations worldwide.

    “NCOs can get assigned across the globe supporting contingency, humanitarian, and disaster relief operations. Today we have NCOs assigned and deployed to locations such as Italy, Germany, Korea, South America, Africa, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Korea, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and every installation in the continental United States,” said Murray.

    MOS 51C NCOs have the vital job of not only providing procurement support for anything a unit might need; but also serving the commander as a business advisor—ensuring they get what’s needed, on time, to support the mission.

    “The NCOs in this MOS come from all branches of the Army which enables them to understand the unique requirements of a specific unit,” said Murray. “They are never at rest, they are always supporting real-world, real-time operational and installation support; where if they don’t get it right the mission fails. It is a great MOS to be in if you are a high energy, multifunctional, adaptive, and the utmost Army professional.”

    Sometimes it’s not only the big ticket items that really add value. “A road construction contract to add IED [improvised explosive device] training lanes to a downrange installation,” would not be a large dollar-value contract, Pitts said. But it could enable units to “go through these really high-speed IED training lanes so that they were better prepared for their mission when they deployed.” Not a lot of money in the big picture, but such a contract “really improves the entire brigade’s training before they prepare for combat. That’s a good example of things a contracting guy can do to help support a brigade.”

    ‘CHARLIE’ SENDS YOU TO SCHOOL
    While the “aha” moment for Pitts was travel and variety, for other NCOs, Pitts said, it’s the educational opportunities offered by a 51C MOS. “They say, ‘Wow, in my current MOS, the push for education isn’t there,’ ” and when they learn that, in the 51C MOS, their officers are going to expect them to get a bachelor’s and become a certified professional, that excites them.”

    “The contracting command was in 49 different countries last year, doing 86 different missions supporting the warfighter.”

    MOS 51C is a career field established in December 2006 to meet the Army’s continuously increasing need for contingency contracting officers, and is viewed as a critical asset. The Army is currently recruiting NCOs, in both the active and reserve components, who are interested in reclassifying to MOS 51C and meet the requirements. Candidates selected for reclassification not only learn a new craft, but also, through the training, education, and professional development aspects of the MOS, gain valuable transferrable skills.

    “Soldiers want to be valued,” he continued. “They want to feel like they’re doing something important.” The 51C MOS enables that.

    The education benefits are excellent, but the expectations are also high—by law, the NCO must earn a B.A. in 24 months—and the workload can be demanding, but there is support from the USAASC 51C MOS Proponent Office.

    “The majority of our NCOs work in the daytime, learning contracting, writing contracts with the government—that’s their craft—and at night they have to go to school online,” Pitts said.

    Murray agreed that the potential for training is significant. “Training opportunities for a 51C NCO exceed those of other military occupational specialties in the Army,” he said. “The norm is for 51C NCOs to complete college courses and mandated contracting courses through the Defense Acquisition University as part of their daily battle rhythm.”

    “Thirty percent of the NCOs we select already have their degree,” Pitts added. “The remaining 70 percent are required to get their degree—either a bachelor’s in business or a degree that affords them 24 hours in business. We have degree completion programs to help them do it. We send some NCOs to school full-time for 12 months to finish their bachelor’s degree. That way they can achieve contracting certification and then come back to the workforce.”

    Generally, the most competitive candidates selected for reclassification have at least 60 hours of college credit.

    USAASC also has an acquisition tuition assistance program that pays an additional $7,750 a year for our NCOs to go to school, Pitts said. That additional $7,750 is exclusive to the 51C program.

    Editor’s Note: The tuition assistance program is temporarily on hold due to current budget constraints.

    In addition to a bachelor’s degree, MOS 51C NCOs will receive the same training opportunities in the contracting field that are available to the Army’s acquisition officers and civilians. Active component Soldiers will attend the Mission Ready Airman Contracting Apprentice Course, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, or the Army Acquisition Basic Course, Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, Huntsville, Ala. Reserve component Soldiers will take courses through Defense Acquisition University distance learning.

    GROWTH POTENTIAL
    The 51C MOS is one of the few in the Army that’s projected to grow over the next few years, with the USAASC looking to add approximately 150 new NCOs to its workforce by October.“One thing a decade of war has taught the Army,” Pitts said, “is that contracting is a vital skill, and you cannot conduct anything in the Army without it.”

    Murray agreed. “It is one of the few military occupational specialties that is still growing to fill its authorizations as the rest of the Army is downsizing.”

    For the Army, it’s crucial to have NCOs as a part of its acquisition workforce, because the NCO adds another dimension, another perspective to the workforce. Part of that is the credibility that NCOs have with Soldiers. “Because I knew the business,” Pitts said, “I found it easier to help support them. I found the warfighter identified with me because I shared their experiences. I wasn’t just some guy.”

    “NCOs can get assigned across the globe supporting contingency, humanitarian, and disaster relief operations.”

    WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AND DO
    The accession process is competitive but rewarding. Applicants must be in the ranks of sergeant, staff sergeant, or sergeant first class with less than 10 years of service. Those with 10-13 years of service may request waivers.

    “Soldiers must be deployable worldwide, able to operate in a deployed environment wearing a full complement of personal protective equipment, have no financial hardships or indicators of insolvency, and have no record of information which might adversely reflect against the character, honesty, or integrity of the Soldier,” said Murray.

    Soldiers selected for the 51C MOS may qualify for a $2,000 transfer bonus. “NCOs already in the 51C MOS are being offered a reenlistment bonus up to $22,500 because contracting is so important to the Army’s mission,” Pitts said. Except it’s not really necessary. “Right now our people are staying in. It’s a great job.”

    There are two more boards of selection this year, in May and July. Packets received now through April 26, 2013 are eligible for the May selection board. Those packets received April 27 – July 19, 2013 will be reviewed during the late July board. All board results are generally released 30 days following the board and are posted to the USAASC Web site and emailed individually.

    For specific deadlines, dates and packet submission instructions, visit http://asc.army.mil.



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  • Nichols addresses JCRX audience

    Maj. Gen. Camille. M. Nichols, ACC commanding general, addresses JCRX-13 participants on the importance of contingency contracting at Fort Bliss, Texas Jan.24. The two-week exercise included warrior skills and contracting specific training for officers, noncommissioned officers and Department of the Army civilians. (Photo by U.S. Army)

    Larry D. Mccaskill

     

    FORT BLISS, Texas – The more than 380 cadre and trainees at the Army Contracting Command Joint Contracting Readiness Exercise 2013 were all eyes and ears as Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general, spoke on the merits and importance of the JCRX training Jan. 24.

    After passing out JCRX Gold Eagle Hero of the Day awards, Nichols thanked the exercise planners.

    “I just want to thank the 412th Contracting Support Brigade and everyone involved in putting this together,” she said. “They have ensured that this will be the most professional event that we could put on given our resources and our expertise and I have to tell you it’s phenomenal.”
    Not to be left out, the general also thanked and provided advice to the almost 200 trainees in the audience.

    “Thank you for being here. This is real stuff in a very low threat, low risk environment,” Nichols said. “It’s an opportunity to hone your craft a little bit. It’s an opportunity to look to your left and to your right and meet a new contract buddy, a contract warrior as I would say.”

    The commanding general said it’s relationships created in training environments that go a long way toward mission accomplishment when deployed.

    “When you see them again, you’ll know some of what training they received, their background and their focus,” she said. “Then you can have an immediate comfort in that they are in the same zone as you are because they have been through some of the same training and background.”

    Nichols said she believes that during the training sessions, the contracting officers will benefit the most from hearing directly from the person or organization they will be supporting.

    “The experience here today will help you get your arms around it,” she said. “During the training, the kinds of contract actions you will work on are literally happening by the hundreds in Afghanistan each and every day.”

    Nichols said the civilians attending the training as mentors will benefit by gaining an understanding of how important they are in their careers as military contracting professionals.

    “As we get more and more Soldiers integrated across our command, whether it’s in a contracting center or in a Mission and Installation Contracting Command office, it is important that these seasoned civilians ask what do they need to know in order to adequately mentor the Soldiers in their offices and how can I help them be more successful,” Nichols said.

    “Part of the answer is to focus on their training, certainly their initial entry training and then their maturation and competency level as they grow. This is a win-win for everyone involved in it.”

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  • Team Stryker receives 2012 Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Award

    The Stryker Life Cycle Requirements Contracting Team received the 2012 Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Team Award for outstanding Systems, Research and Development, and Logistics Support (Sustainment) Contracting. Here, Slovenian soldiers from the 74th Motorized Infantry Battalion and U.S. Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment conduct a Stryker convoy during Saber Junction 2012, a decisive action training environment exercise conducted at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, in October 2012. (Photo by SGT Ian Schell, Viper Combat Camera, U.S. Army Europe)

    Bill Good

     

    The Stryker Life Cycle Requirements Contracting Team has received the 2012 Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Award for outstanding Systems, Research and Development, and Logistics Support (Sustainment) Contracting as a result of its work on a complicated follow-on contract that included more than a dozen scopes of work.

    “There were numerous submittals in this category, all of which exemplified contracting excellence in a teaming environment,” said Harry Hallock, Executive Director of the Army Contracting Command, in an email congratulating Team Stryker on its award. “Team Stryker’s selection as the ‘best of the best’ is a tribute to your professionalism and drive to accomplish the mission, as teammates and colleagues with individual and unique talents that are enhanced by working together for a common goal in support of your customer, every day.”

    The Stryker team was nominated for the exemplary performance it demonstrated during the acquisition planning and pre-solicitation phase associated with the fiscal year 2013-2015 Stryker Life Cycle follow-on requirements contract. The contract will enable the Stryker Team to cost-effectively continue its mission over the next three years and includes key services such as new equipment training, fielding, logistics and engineering support, and possibly, production.

    “Our most important mission is to provide Soldiers with ground combat systems that are adaptable, versatile, and affordable, all while ensuring we provide the taxpayer with the kind of value they deserve.”

    The entire program’s complement of life cycle mission requirements are contained under one base contract, with performance enacted by the issuance of delivery orders that are linked to 13 distinct scopes of work.

    “This means that Stryker has one contract with 13 different sections, each of which supports continued real time execution of the Stryker mission,” said David Dopp, project manager for the Army’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “The planning and pre-solicitation effort associated with this contract required careful orchestration across the organization.”

    The team developed several key elements needed to execute the project from start to finish, including an integrated master schedule and defined project organizational resource charts. Team Stryker created a specific working group for each scope of work —13 different working groups each responsible for their own scope of work and deliverables, and for developing, evaluating, and negotiating all elements of the proposed contract. “To say it’s a huge task would be an understatement,” said Dopp.

    “This project was successful because of Team Stryker’s ability to define and communicate the details of a highly complex and integrated project,” said Scott Davis, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems. “To increase efficiency and reduce cost, the team defined and obtained approval to implement a staggered proposal submission and award schedule for each of the 13 distinct scopes of work, allowing the project to be managed within existing resources.”

    Davis added, “What is truly significant about this award is that it demonstrates the incredible attention to detail and adherence to best business practices that the Styker team goes through every day. Our most important mission is to provide Soldiers with ground combat systems that are adaptable, versatile, and affordable, all while ensuring we provide the taxpayer with the kind of value they deserve.”
     


    • Bill Good is with Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems Public Affairs.

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  • MICC Program Offers Acquisition Career Road Map

    Daniel P. Elkins

    The Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Program takes a four-phase approach to ensure that all aspects of an employee’s career are considered, to maximize professional development. (U.S. Army illustration.)

    Officials at Fort Sam Houston, TX, have developed an Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Program, offering contracting professionals a structured, detailed road map for career management.

    The program was created for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) workforce, but officials from the U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) exploring a similar program recognized its value to the broader Army acquisition community. The program is scheduled to launch this spring.

    “The Army is committed to replenishing and growing our professional acquisition workforce through the enhancement of career development programs and training opportunities,” said BG Stephen Leisenring, then MICC Commanding General. “Professional development serves as a powerful tool in defending this Nation and provides the processes to acquire needed capabilities.”

    The overarching objective of the program is to build a cadre of acquisition workforce members using various tools and developmental opportunities with an eye to future leadership roles, said Wiley Cox, a Procurement Analyst with the MICC Acquisition Workforce Development and Training Branch. He said an assessment of the organization revealed a gap in aligning the workforce with professional development.

    “We realized there was a disconnect between individual aspirations and decision makers who can match individuals to opportunities,” said Cox, who drew on his previous Air Force experience as one of the architects of the MICC program. “The Acquisition Workforce Development and Training Team designed a program within the MICC that will develop our future leaders.”

    The program, fashioned after the Army Workforce Development Roadmap for the contracting and acquisition career programs, uses a four-phase approach, starting with establishing career development road maps.

    “Contracting career field members who elect to participate will now have the unprecedented ability to directly communicate their career aspirations to senior leaders, who will then provide a strategic perspective on individual career paths,” Cox said. “This new avenue of communication will serve to identify future leaders and also arm individuals with recommendations that allow them to maximize their growth potential.”

    Members who complete a road map should highlight functional competencies and significant business, professional, and leadership skills. Senior leaders then review the road maps, taking into consideration technical competencies, business acumen, leadership skills, and training and education accomplishments that they want to encourage at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.

    We realized there was a disconnect between individual aspirations and decision makers who can match individuals to opportunities.”

    The second phase entails completion of a contracting career development plan, consisting of an employee’s present and past experience as well as short- and long-range goals, according to Lorraine Massie, MICC Contract Operations Division Chief. This step also includes an assessment and recommendation by an individual’s supervisor.

    Following completion of the road map and submission of a development plan, the third phase entails a review by the Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Board, consisting of a panel of senior leaders who will analyze experiential and educational accomplishments as well as the immediate supervisor’s input using specific criteria and a structured feedback approach to ensure consistency. Cox said the board will provide a recommendation for at least one follow-on assignment, along with training and educational recommendations, in feedback that takes into account individual accomplishments, career goals, and attributes that may lead to continued professional growth and career progression.

    The final phase of the Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Program is to match developmental opportunities to the employee based on recommendations by the board. This phase also serves as a tool for succession planning, Massie said. Managing the development program at MICC is the Acquisition Workforce Development and Training Team in the Contract Support Plans and Operations Directorate.

    Following the launch of the program, officials from the MICC and ACC will continue to work closely to ensure individuals in the non-acquisition workforce are also folded into the career and leadership development process in the near future.


    • DANIEL P. ELKINS is Deputy Director of Public Affairs for MICC. He has served more than 23 years in support of public affairs for the Army and the Air Force. Elkins holds a B.S. in communications from Louisiana Tech University and an M.A. in communications from St. Mary’s University.

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  • New Contracting Tool Offers Insights into Capability, Capacity

    BG Stephen B. Leisenring, MICC Commanding General, explains the new MICC organizational structure to the seven MCC directors Sept. 7, 2011, at Fort Sam Houston. (U.S. Army photo by Ben Gonzales.)

    Senior decision makers with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) at Fort Sam Houston, TX, have a new planning tool that allows them to better gauge their effectiveness in executing the acquisition mission.

    The Capacity and Capability Model, or CAP2, provides a methodology to measure the capacity and capability of MICC mission contracting centers (MCCs), mission contracting offices, and installation contracting offices throughout the Nation to perform their missions for customers.

    “Developed by a cross-functional team of contracting, financial, and personnel experts, the CAP2 was designed to support the MICC’s transformation and delegated authority to regional mission contracting centers,” said Pat Hogston, Director of MICC Contract Support, Plans, and Operations (CSPO).

    MICC restructured its contracting centers and installation contracting offices under seven regional MCCs in 2011 to improve customer service and workload distribution while establishing a more effective span of control that contributes to the standardization of procedures and processes.

    Fielding of the CAP2 Model to MCC directors follows a 100 percent data validation screening involving MICC contracting offices.

    The capacity and capability components of the CAP2 Model take a deliberate approach, matching necessary manpower and skills.

    Capacity takes into consideration whether MICC contracting offices have the resources available to sustain the contracting activity required to meet customer demands for acquisition services. It is supported by a MICC internal manpower model, which is fashioned after the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) manpower model. The MICC model is based on process-oriented, statistically based studies of a variety of actions commonly performed by contracting offices. The MICC internal manpower model goes beyond the TRADOC studies by accounting for recent changes in the resources required for multimillion-dollar task and delivery orders, as well as contract administration efforts.

    Capability measures the MICC contracting activities’ performance relative to personnel qualifications, certifications, skill attributes, and experience. It also captures statistics necessary for succession planning and other management considerations.

    The capacity and capability components of the CAP2 Model take a deliberate approach, matching necessary manpower and skills.

    “While other contracting metrics and manpower models are available, one aspect that distinguishes the CAP2 is the side-by-side view of resources needed and qualitative measures reflecting the ability of existing resources to perform the mission,” said Alix Gayton, Chief of the Workload Assessment and Management Branch for the MICC CSPO Plans and Programs Division.

    She added that MICC leaders will continue to use situational information on various mission sets among the different units served. With the assistance of the CAP2, decision makers can baseline functions and assess norms across their respective families of work.

    The capacity and capability components roll up into a dashboard presentation, offering MICC leaders at all levels a snapshot of opportunity and risk assessment by area of responsibility.


    • MICC PUBLIC AFFAIRS

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