POSITION: Contracting Officer
UNIT: 918th Contracting Battalion, Mission and Installation Contracting Command–Fort Carson
TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE: 32 (21 active duty and 11 civilian)
AWARDS: Achievement Medal for Civilian Service; Meritorious Service Medal; Army Commendation (6)
EDUCATION: MBA, Regis University, B.S. in business management/business administration, Colorado State University
Contracting role requires flexibility, capacity to manage change
By Susan L. Follett
Lisa Benjamin isn’t big on down time. Two weeks after she graduated from high school in 1982, she headed for Army basic training. She spent 21 years on active duty, and six months later she began working for the Army as a civilian—work she’s done for more than a decade. She’s reached some notable milestones along the way, a few in less time than it usually takes.
Change is a constant in her career. While on active duty, she “worked as a recruiter, did a tour in the Inspector General’s office, oversaw Census 2000 at Fort Carson, and was on the general staff of the NCO [noncommissioned officer]-in-charge of the Protocol Office,” she said. “I was exposed to a lot of different positions, and I really liked that aspect of my military career: I never did things twice.”
She’s now a contracting officer with the 918th Contracting Battalion at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command–Fort Carson. “We’re constantly seeing changes in the way we do business,” she said. “The infrastructure and the regulations change, and the people change too. The contracting field is a great place to progress quickly if you’re willing to be mobile, but there’s also a loss of experience and continuity that comes when someone transitions into a new role. So we’re constantly teaching—getting our customer familiar with how things work.”
What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
As a contracting officer (KO), it is my responsibility to ensure Fort Carson customers get the contracting support needed to perform their mission. This support ranges from purchasing the equipment and supplies need to support an exercise or deployment to the re-procurement of existing services in support of the installation, to benefiting the warfighter as well as the civilian support element tasked with the mission to support the installation and ultimately the warfighter. Without contracting support, warfighters would not have the equipment necessary to complete their mission, ultimately exposing them to potential danger.
What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
I was promoted to GS-12 within less than four years, and obtained my Level III certification in contracting within four years. Also, I completed the Army Management Staff College Basic Course in less than four years. I think my Army career helped me achieve all of these milestones: it gave me leadership and education experiences that most civilians don’t have the opportunity to obtain. As a KO, I’m responsible for the administration of contracts valued at more than $128 million, and I hold a $100 million warrant. Also, for a short period I recently was temporarily promoted to a GS-13, supervisory Division Chief position.
What is your greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army Acquisition Corps?
My greatest satisfaction is achieved in being able to continue my service to the Army by supporting the warfighter through the acquisition of the supplies and services they need to perform their job. The Army values have always guided me in everything I do, formerly as a Soldier and now as a civilian.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
Get as many experiences as you can, and don’t focus on just one area of contracting. Explore your horizons and look for new opportunities: Contracting is a very diverse career field.
- “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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