POSITION: Chief, Training and Readiness, G-3
UNIT: Mission and Installation Contracting Command
TOTAL YEARS OF ARMY SERVICE: 16
AWARDS: Air Force Women-Owned Small Business Outreach Excellence Award; Randolph Air Force Base Most Outstanding Woman; 12th Contracting Squadron Professional of the Quarter (3); Dept. of the Army Commendation
EDUCATION: M.A. in procurement and acquisitions management, Webster University; B.S. in business administration, St. Thomas Aquinas College
Have Career, Will Travel
By Susan L. Follett
As a military spouse, the need to have a portable career eventually landed Donna VanGilder in a position with Army acquisition. “My husband was on active duty for the Army and I knew that we’d be moving every few years. I wanted a job that allowed me to relocate and take my skills with me to the next post.” Her 30-year career has included a lot of twists and turns, moving from the Army to the Air Force and back to the Army.
She began as a GS-2 at Fort Leavenworth—“I think they called us word processors back then”—and moved up through the contracting ranks as her husband’s career took her from Kansas to Germany to West Point and eventually to San Antonio, Texas. During those moves, she continued her education, earning undergraduate and master’s degrees. “In San Antonio, I found an acquisition position in the Air Force’s intern program, and I stayed with the Air Force for 11 years.” She returned to the Army nine years ago. “My husband was in the Army, and both our sons are, too; this is where I want to be until I retire.”
Her career has given her a unique perspective on how acquisition differs from one branch to another. “To a certain extent, contracting is contracting. There aren’t many differences between working for the Air Force and working for the Army. But when I came to Army acquisition in 2005, it seemed to me that the Air Force had the edge in making training a priority,” she said. “I’ve seen a huge turn-around since then, though, and I think the Army is doing a great job in providing good training, even under funding constraints, and making sure its workforce takes advantage of it.”
FOTF: What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
VANGILDER: As the acquisition career manager (ACM) for my command, I work closely with our acquisition workforce members, Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) leadership, the Army Contracting Command (ACC), the Army Materiel Command, the Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) and the Department of the Army to ensure acquisition-coded employees receive the training necessary to enable them to support the warfighter with the goods and services they need to perform their mission.
FOTF: What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
VANGILDER: The civilian workforce certification rate (as required by the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act across 14 acquisition career fields) was around 70 percent at MICC in October 2009 when I became the ACM. By working closely with the employees, their leadership, USAASC and ACC, that rate is now at 97 percent. A lot of that progress was made on a person-by-person basis: generating reports from Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System (CAPPMIS), contacting employees to remind them what the requirements are and encouraging them and their directors to enroll in the classes they needed for certification. With 1,000-plus civilians in the MICC, it was somewhat of a daunting task, but seeing the certification rate steadily improve motivated me to keep going.
Another challenge I encountered when I started in 2009 was that records for MICC personnel in CAPPMIS were often incorrect or inaccurate. The process of correcting the records often resulted in self-inflicted wounds: CAPPMIS sometimes indicated that employees had the required certification for their grade when they didn’t, and when we corrected it, it was tough to see [the status indicator] go from green to red. But through close monitoring of the system and working with Acquisition Career Manager Brian Cole, Acquisition Training Development Manager Wen Lin and Contracting DAU Quota Manager Rolanda Jackson (and their predecessors) at USAASC, we’ve corrected the records, and can now provide MICC leadership with correct and valuable information concerning the acquisition workforce.
FOTF: What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army Acquisition Corps?
VANGILDER: Being able to assist the MICC acquisition workforce members—approximately 1,400 people in 35 locations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico—with a myriad of issues concerning their training and careers. In 2013, more than 300 Soldiers were attached to the MICC. The certification rate for Soldiers was only around 31 percent, for many reasons. But, through their diligence, continued monitoring and assisting them at every opportunity, we have seen their certification rate steadily increase to the current level of 42 percent. Working alongside my G-3 Training and Readiness Team—Albert Burnett, Lydia Hardy and Joe Todd—to provide training assistance to members of the MICC acquisition workforce, who are some of the hardest working personnel in the Army, gives me great deal of satisfaction.
- “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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