By Susan L. Follett
FORT BELVOIR, Va. –The Army claimed four winners in the 2014 Defense Acquisition Awards, announced last week, recognizing individual and collective contributions to the defense acquisition mission.
Army Acquisition Workforce members took home top individual honors in the business, engineering and facilities engineering categories and the Army Contracting Command–Rock Island was one of six organizations that earned Workforce Development Awards.
“The work that acquisition professionals do to accomplish this is almost never easy, but it is always critical to our Soldiers and the nation. That is why it is so very important that we honor excellence,” said the Hon. Heidi Shyu, the Army Acquisition Executive. “The professionalism of the workforce is one of my top priorities, and recognition goes hand-in-hand with that.”
The Individual Achievement Award was established to encourage and recognize excellent performance in acquiring products and services for DOD across 16 acquisition workforce disciplines, including life-cycle logistics, program management, services acquisition and contracting and procurement. Representing the Army among this year’s honorees are Daniel Dittenber, Leland Fincham and Maryellen Lukac.
Dittenber received the award for Engineering, recognizing his support of the Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program. As chief engineer for the UAS Project Management Office, he led the effort to acquire DOD’s first medium-altitude-endurance-class UAS. Dittenber is also credited with enabling or supporting several other firsts, including the first HELLFIRE shot from a UAS in the Army; the first fully autonomous UAS takeoff and landing; the first air data relay between two Gray Eagle aircraft; and the first “remote control” of an unmanned (Gray Eagle) aircraft and its payload by an Apache helicopter pilot.
Fincham, chief of facilities engineering at the Blue Grass Army Depot (BGAD) in Richmond, Kentucky, garnered the award for Facilities Engineering. Fincham has led the Facilities Engineering Division of the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) for more than 11 years, overseeing maintenance, operation and improvements of the 2,900 BGAD facilities. He was one of the first in the DPW to reach Level III certification in his career field, and helped the depot control expenditures during sequestration and furloughs. His efforts resulted in a 15 percent decrease in facilities expenditures without significant impact to end users.
Maryellen Lukac, director of business management for Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems (PM CAS), received the award in the Business category. Lukac provided acquisition resourcing and program support for 99 products (51 active and 48 in sustainment) supporting Army and other service acquisitions and totaling more than $2.2 billion across the FY14 federal budget. Additionally, she led the acquisition of more than 401 annual contract actions valued at roughly $663 million. Lukac, who oversees a team of 30, also chairs a monthly Contracting Milestone Review Meeting that ensures uninterrupted readiness of Air Force, Army and Marine Corps forces that use PM CAS-managed items.
A team from ACC–Rock Island received the bronze award for large organization in the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Award, which recognizes organizations that have displayed outstanding commitment and innovation to develop and support the success of their acquisition, technology and logistics professionals. ACC-Rock Island’s Adelaide Tkatch, chief of the Policy, Review and Compliance Branch, led a team that included Michelle Blocker-Rosebrough, Michelle Breitbach, Karen Gatton-Zarn, Myrna Dowell, Gene Harrison, Lynn Burris, Sarah Herrera and Beth Nowack. They provided focused training, education and developmental opportunities to more than 40 interns at ACC-RI, adding to its ranks of GS-1102 Contract Specialists—particularly noteworthy in the face of projected losses of experienced GS-1102 personnel. The team also ensured that the existing ACC–Rock Island workforce received training and educational opportunities to enhance their skills and abilities and further the professionalization of the workforce.
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