Don’t just hear—listen

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B. Dean Angell

COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 13 (eight in the Army and five in the U.S. Marine Corps)
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in contracting; Level I in program management; Federal Acquisition Certification – Contracting, Level II
EDUCATION: Ph.D. in business administration, Capella University; MBA, Bellevue University; B.S. in business administration, San Diego State University
AWARDS: U.S. Army Contracting Command Cost/Price Analyst of the Year; Army Commendation Medal (2); Army Achievement Medal (2); National Defense Service Ribbon; Army Overseas Service Ribbon; Commandant’s Award; Navy Achievement Medal; Navy Good Conduct Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Medal

By Susan L. Follett

When Dean Angell says that any person in the 1102 job series, contracting, should be proficient in all areas of the series, he’s speaking from experience. Over the course of a career that spans four decades, he has served as a contract specialist, contracting officer, procurement analyst, cost and price analyst and supervisory contract specialist. He has been a Marine and a Soldier, worked for NASA and the Air Force, started and sold one private sector company and worked for another, and, in his spare time, he’s a college professor.
“It’s a good thing that I love challenging work, because there is plenty of it here,” he said. “Here” is Procurement Operations within the headquarters of the U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where Angell is one of two senior cost and price analysts. “We review the actions that have the highest dollar value, are the most complicated and have the highest command interest. To make sure these actions are executed properly, we review enormous amounts of documents and research and correctly interpret laws, regulations, rules and policy. Fortunately, there are some very smart people in MICC, and in Procurement Operations in particular. Assistance is just a cubicle away.”

Angell recently led the cost and pricing team on a $4.7 billion contract to provide rotary-wing aviation maintenance services at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in support of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. DOD’s review of the contract, which Angell noted will save the Army more than $164 million over the previous contract, found many of the team’s procurement approaches to be best practices and recommended they be adopted for future procurements.

The $4.7 billion award was complicated and had “very high command interest,” said Angell. “The customer wasn’t pleased with the service or performance of the previous contract. We met with them many times, over the phone and in person, and toured their facilities. We let the customer describe the requirement—what they needed, what they wanted, what their superiors expected, what their customers expected and why. They explained what was good and bad with the current contract, and would work best to motivate the contractor to produce the desired results that would provide the best value to the Army.” When the team began discussions with offerors, the customer described to the MICC team how each offer could or could not help or how it could be improved. “By not just hearing, but listening, we were able to finally execute a contract with terms and conditions that both the customer and contractor like, with a lower price and higher performance standards than the previous contract.”

For Angell, the effort reinforced his belief in the importance of communication. “One of the most important lessons a person can learn—and possibly one of the most difficult to master—is in communication: Don’t just hear, listen,” he said. “When others are communicating, don’t just think about what you are going to say or how you are going to respond. You can learn so much when you finally listen to what people say—and what they don’t say.”

Angell, third from left, stands with his team from Procurement Operations within MICC Headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston. From left are Raul Guerra; Division Chief Lorraine Massie; Karl Fischer; Karen Edwards; and Dev Gokool. Not pictured are Cynthia Borlinghaus and Johnny Castro. (U.S. Army photo by Ryan Mattox, MICC Public Affairs)

Angell, third from left, stands with his team from Procurement Operations within MICC Headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston. From left are Raul Guerra; Division Chief Lorraine Massie; Karl Fischer; Karen Edwards; and Dev Gokool. Not pictured are Cynthia Borlinghaus and Johnny Castro. (U.S. Army photo by Ryan Mattox, MICC Public Affairs)

It wasn’t the first time he had learned the lesson. “Many years ago when I was a new contract specialist, I was assigned my first multimillion-dollar acquisition. After I received the purchase request and requirements documents, I contacted the customer to introduce myself. He fired back an email to me and the director of contracting that started out with ‘Whenever I have to work with contracting, I just cringe,’ and it got worse from there.” But by meeting with the customer and listening to what he needed, Angell outlined an approach that met all of the customer’s demands.

Angell’s federal service started in 1981 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. After five years as an infantryman, he enrolled in college and joined the Army ROTC program. He was commissioned in the Signal Corps and served for eight years. Angell had a hand in contracting while in the private sector, serving as the final decision authority for local contracts for a cable company and submitting proposals through a print distribution company he and his wife founded.

After selling the company, Angell accepted a developmental position with MICC at Fort Lee, Virginia. He left briefly for opportunities at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, and Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and rejoined MICC in 2016. He’s quick to note that his successes there are largely because of the mentorship and leadership he has received. “It’s not practical to mention everyone,” he said, “but two people have proven to be superior leaders and mentors for me: Lorraine Massie, Procurement Operations division chief, and Dean Carsello, the contracting officer for the $4.7 billion aviation maintenance acquisition.”

When he’s not at work, you can find Angell in a classroom—real or virtual—where he teaches MBA students at Bellevue University, based in Bellevue, Nebraska, and Norwich University, in Northfield, Vermont. While Angell was earning his MBA at Bellevue, he struck up a professional relationship with Dr. David Levy, one of his professors who was also the MBA program director. Four years later, when Angell earned his doctorate, Levy offered him an adjunct professor position.

“Every time I teach a class, regardless of the subject, I learn something new,” Angell said. He’s applying what he learned to MICC, developing online courses in contracting and cost and pricing for analysts and contracting officers. “It’s a force multiplier. We can reach more people across the command and provide training cost-effectively,” he said. He sees the possibility for scaling the classes beyond MICC, a subordinate command of the U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC). Angell uses Blackboard, a commonly available platform that’s also used by Defense Acquisition University, to develop and conduct his classes. “It’s simple to build and navigate, it’s portable and it would be easy for other organizations within ACC to take what we’ve developed and customize it.”

This article will be published in the October – December 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

“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 serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-664-5635.

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