POSITION: GPC Agency/Organization Program Coordinator
UNIT: ACC-APG/Tenant Contracting Division
TOTAL YEARS OF ARMY SERVICE: 26 (20 years on active duty, 6 years as a civilian)
AWARDS: Commander’s Award for Civilian Service; Achievement Medal for Civilian Service
EDUCATION: J.D., University of Baltimore; MBA, Oklahoma City University; B.S. in business administration, University of Louisville. Level III certified in contracting and Level II certified in program management
Meal Ticket Becomes a Career Path
By Susan L. Follett
When Jim Bushnell joined the Army in 1984, his goal was fairly simple: to make sure he knew where his next meal was coming from. While the Army isn’t known for gourmet cooking, it is known for feeding Soldiers—and for training them, something Bushnell has made the most of.
Seven years later, after being accepted into the Green to Gold Program, he earned an undergraduate degree and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. During his service, he also completed his graduate degree in business administration. He retired from active duty as a major in 2008, after stints as a contract specialist and contingency contracting officer in Germany, Poland and Iraq, and as program manager for the Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Bushnell now serves as contracting officer and government purchase card (GPC) agency/organization program coordinator (A/OPC) at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). It’s one of the largest GPC programs in the Army, with more than 900 cardholders and annual expenditures of more than $158 million. The GPC Program provides credit cards to agencies and departments throughout the federal government, and is intended to streamline the process of procuring goods and services that fall under the micro-purchase threshold, usually $2,500 or $3,000.
During a program management review, the deputy undersecretary of the Army for procurement GPC program manager praised the A/OPC team for its outstanding support. Bushnell received the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, and each team member received an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service.
Bushnell received his law degree four years ago and, although he’s not employed in a legal capacity for ACC, his legal education plays a part in his work. “Getting my law degree definitely expanded my perspective. It gives me the tools to interpret the FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] to best serve our clients, and helps me provide the support staff on our team with the information and variables they can use to defend the purchasing decisions that we make.”
What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
Our office supports the warfighter by providing prompt and efficient account services and has expanded the purchasing power of select cardholders to decrease time to contract award and enhance purchasing capabilities. In my position, I help ensure that our deployed forces are protected across the full spectrum of conflict so they can return safely to their home station.
What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
The A/OPC Office at APG has been recognized for its operational support from the tenant organizations throughout APG and Fort Belvoir. Our success is derived from the implementation of two best business practices. The first best business practice implemented was the conversion and maintenance of all accounts into a completely paperless automated process. We have developed one digital form that customers may use to nominate new billing officials or cardholders, modify account information, reassign individuals throughout the supported community or terminate their account—simply by submitting it to a consolidated email account.
The second best business practice performed in the GPC A/OPC Office is the continuing establishment of small business blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) with local vendors and other small businesses throughout the United States as the need arises. In FY13, the A/OPC Office, by and through the supported organizations, established more than 300 BPAs with small businesses that allow cardholders to place orders for supplies up to $25,000 as opposed to the previous threshold of $2,500 or $3,000. That means quicker response times and less time to get supplies and services to the people who need them.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
Don’t become complacent, and don’t confuse the expression “that’s the way we do it here” with “that’s the only way to do it.” If you have an idea for improving something, speak up.
- “Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature 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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