Army acquisition executive visits contracting students

By April 3, 2013General
Hon. Heidi Shyu speaks to students at AACoE

By Skip Vaughn

The Army acquisition executive looked out over the classroom of contracting student Soldiers and told them how valuable they are.

“Thank you for what you guys do every single day,” Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said. “You guys are the future of our acquisition work force.”

Shyu visited the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence on April 3 at its building on the campus of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The center is under the Acquisition Support Center, out of Fort Belvoir, Va.; and its classes fall under the Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Va. The 47 students, most of whom are military, represent three classes which last from 3-4 weeks. The center has been located on the UAH campus since 2006 and in Madison Hall, 301 Sparkman Drive, since January 2011.

Before addressing the students, Shyu met briefly with the staff and faculty. She called the three classes – including Project Management, Contracting Level-2 and Contract Pricing — very important. “What they’re learning is valuable, it’s incredibly marketable,” she said.

She gave an overview of the international environment, her role as the Army acquisition executive and the need to take lessons learned from the last decade of war.

The Army’s spending reflects the declining budget. In fiscal 2011, the Army did 470,000 contracting actions and obligated $124.3 billion. That declined in fiscal 2012 to 412,000 contracting actions and $107.5 billion obligated.

Shyu pointed out that 64 percent of the Army’s contracting actions are competed. Last year 27.2 percent of contracts went to small businesses and “that’s huge,” she said.

She told the students that contracting or acquisition isn’t a job they can do by themselves. It entails the requirements, the money and an acquisition plan. “It’s got to all come together,” Shyu said.

She invited questions from the students; and the first dealt with the budget and sequestration. “We’re trying to make the smart decisions,” she said.

Among the students was Staff Sgt. Trevor Dodge, 27, from Windsor, N.H. He is midway through the four-week Army Basic Contracting Course. At the end of April, he will be leaving Fort Hood, Texas, for Fort Belvoir, Va.

“I thought it was great,” Dodge said of Shyu’s presentation. “She gives a view we don’t get very often. She hinted at things that are coming in the future so that kind of gives you a purpose in your job.”