POSITION: Supervisory Contract Specialist/Director
UNIT: Mission and Installation Contracting Command
TOTAL YEARS OF ARMY SERVICE: 36
AWARDS: Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting AbilityOne Award (2); Commander’s Award for Civilian Service; Outstanding Contracting Officer Award, ACA, Southern Region (2); NCMA Fellow Award; Achievement Medal for Civilian Service
EDUCATION: B.S. in commerce (business administration), Bellarmine University
‘Army brat’ continues family history of service
By Susan L. Follett
Deborah Ault has spent nearly four decades in civilian service, working her way up from typing purchase requests to serving as the director of the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Knox, earning a B.S. in business administration along the way. One of the biggest changes she’s seen? Plastic.
“Implementation of the credit card program really changed our work a great deal,” she said, “as did the increase in outsourcing of services that used to be provided in-house. In the past, most of our work was purchasing supplies. But now, many functions—facilities maintenance and logistics, for example—have been outsourced, and we’re more involved with purchasing services. We don’t buy ‘the little stuff’ anymore, and our job is definitely more complex.”
Still, said Ault, “I love what we do. Every day brings with it a learning experience, and there’s never a dull moment.”
FOTF: What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
AULT: I support the Army’s recruiting, entrance processing, training and out-processing missions. MICC Fort Knox provides contract services for the Army Recruiting Command, Military Entrance Processing Command, Army Cadet Command, Army Human Resources Command, Army Marketing and Research Group and Army G-1. Our services help to ensure Soldiers are recruited into the Army, properly processed into the Army and other services, receive appropriate training and successfully transition out of the Army.
FOTF: What first attracted you to working with the Army? Did you imagine when you started that you’d still be here, 36 years later?
AULT: I was an Army brat. My dad was a Noncommissioned Officer and served for 23 years. His service led to my interest in serving. When I graduated from high school, I debated between joining the Army or Army Civil Service, and decided on civilian service. My plan from day one was for a long-term career with the Army in some capacity—and here I am, 36 years later.
FOTF: What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
AULT: I began my Army civilian service career as a GS-2 clerk typist, working for what is now Directorate of Public Works at Fort Knox. I spent my days typing purchase requests that were submitted to the Fort Knox contracting office. Shortly thereafter, I began my contracting career as a GS-2/3/4 procurement clerk typist.
I then worked my way through this career field, successfully competing for each position, from typist to purchasing agent, contract administrator, contract specialist, division chief, deputy director, and finally my current role as director. Each position provided opportunities for me to learn and grow.
FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Acquisition Corps?
The greatest satisfaction, of course, is in knowing that we make a difference in the lives of our Soldiers and their families.
FOTF: Can you provide a couple examples of memorable days/experiences?
I worked a couple of large, complex, cost-reimbursable requirements a few years ago. I worked them concurrently, had to keep them on a tight schedule, and had to award them to ensure the same start date. I received numerous offers for each of them, conducted extensive evaluations, and held discussions. Both contracts were awarded on time and without protest. The surprising and memorable experience here was the receipt of a positive interactive customer evaluation form from an unsuccessful offeror.
FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?
AULT: The biggest challenges today are the constant changes and ensuring our people have what they need to do a good job and be successful. The best way for leaders to manage challenge is to surround ourselves with dedicated professionals. I am very fortunate in that area: I have an exceptional support staff.
FOTF: What’s something people don’t know about your job?
AULT: People who don’t do what we do don’t understand the job at all. Over the years, I have attempted to explain to many people what we do and they just don’t get it—even my family members don’t really understand; it’s a very specialized career field. I recently went to a new doctor and he asked what I do for a living. I used as few words as possible: “We solicit, negotiate and award contracts for the Army.” He is the first person who responded as though he understood. He said, “Wow, I know how busy you guys are,” and indicated he understood how important our function is to the Army. Very refreshing!
- “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.
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