POSITION: Director, Utility Helicopter Contracts
UNIT: U.S. Army Contracting Command
TOTAL YEARS OF ARMY SERVICE: 25
AWARDS: Superior Civilian Service Award, 2013; Secretary of the Army, Excellence in Contracting, Team Award, 2004; Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, 1991; Frank S. Besson Award for Procurement Excellence, Army Materiel Command Intern of the Year, 1991.
EDUCATION: MBA and B.S. in finance and marketing, University of North Alabama
‘More opportunities than I ever anticipated’
By Susan Follett
Ask Sheri Baskins if she thought she’d be with the Army Contracting Command 25 years after she started, and her answer will be a resounding yes. “I’ve always liked the stability that comes from working for the government, so I’m not surprised that I’m still here,” said Baskins, director for Utility Helicopter Contracts. “But what I am surprised about is the exposure to different things that I’ve had—more opportunities than I ever anticipated: I’ve been able to support various aviation and missile weapon systems, earn my master’s degree, graduate from Army Management Staff College, and attend various leadership training courses, and I never would have imagined I’d be able to do that.”
She first started as a contract intern in 1989. “Back then, we did everything manually. Now, most everything has become electronic and paperless,” she said. But that change helps her overcome one of her job’s hurdles, “keeping up with the constant change in policy and regulations. I use the Aviation SharePoint and MAP APP to keep up, and to find applicable guidance.”
One thing that hasn’t changed? “The dedication and work ethic of the people who work here—they always work to find a way to support the warfighter’s requirements and needs.”
FOTF: What do you do and why is it important to the warfighter?
BASKINS: I provide the full range of contractual support to the Utility Helicopter Project Office: developing, evaluating and executing pre-award, award and post-award contractual actions related to the H-60 Black Hawk, the UH-72 Lakota and the T-700 engine for the Black Hawk and Apache systems, for the U.S. government, foreign military sales and other government agency customers. Requirements include hardware, support services, training and contractor logistics support involving numerous types of complex contractual arrangements. These contractual arrangements support the warfighter for contingency, humanitarian support and training operations.
FOTF: What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved?
BASKINS: I have been fortunate to work in several areas supporting a wide variety of systems, including utility, Apache, CH-47, Kiowa, Patriot, Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. I provided leadership, guidance and oversight for the evaluation and award of the H-60M multiyear, multiservice Black Hawk contract valued at more than $11 billion, which enables the Army and all other customers to continue operations that use the H-60 platform in all theaters of operation.
I think the most complicated contract I’ve been involved in is the MLRS Terminally Guided Warhead (TGW) contract, which was a joint venture between companies in the United States, the United Kingdom (U.K.), France and Germany. I was the lead contract specialist on the contract. A corporation—MDTT Inc.—was formed solely for the management of the program in 1984, and oversaw the work from Martin Marietta, Diehl, Thompson and Thorne (one company from each of the countries involved). The contract was awarded for three stages: component demonstration substage, system demonstration substage (SDS) and maturation substage; and was in four currencies: dollars, marks, franks, and pounds.
The TGW system struggled with drop tests that overflew the target and a couple of other issues, and France decided to pull out from the venture during the system demonstration phase due to funding and other political reasons. As a result, we had to restructure the contract between the United States, the U.K. and Germany to ensure that each country’s investments and funding issues were addressed.
Poor testing results continued throughout the SDS phase, so the U.K., U.S. and Germany took action to conclude the contract at the end of that stage. I had to negotiate a mechanism to balance funding so the maximum period of performance could be realized, estimate expenditures per country through completion, and resolve issues related to property disposition and shareholder statements.
FOTF: What do most people find surprising when you explain to them what you do?
BASKINS: They seemed surprised that I do something so important for the Army. They see helicopters flying around in the local area on occasions, and they see helicopters on the news. They seem surprised that I’m involved in making that happen. All surprise aside, it’s gratifying to know that my work supports the warfighter by procuring the equipment, supplies, services and training necessary to accomplish the Army’s mission.
- “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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