Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2016 Contents "Moving abroad with the Army has given me an appreciation
for what the military goes through with each PCS [permanent
change of station]. My o ce operates at a high tempo, so jump-
ing in required a steep learning curve on local policies," said
Cowell, who spent two years on active duty to help pay for col-
lege. "Being overseas allows me to be more closely involved in
supporting our deployed troops. Our o ce also awards con-
tracts that provide humanitarian assistance, from emergency
supplies for refugees to infrastructure improvements within
small villages. As a civilian, an overseas assignment in Army
contracting is an extraordinary opportunity, and I'm honored
to be given the opportunity."
What do you do in the Army? Why is it important?
I support the war ghter by providing contract vehicles to
acquire products and services needed to accomplish the mission.
As a contracting o cer, I have the opportunity to positively
a ect the lives of Soldiers, DOD civilians and the contractor
workforce by working hard to advise on the right type of con-
tracts awarded at a fair price and delivered on time. If I do my
job well, the Army's mission is e ectively supported and people
are provided for.
What has your experience been like? What has surprised you
I've found that most everyone wants to do their jobs well and
that breakdowns are usually the result of bad communication.
Contracting can be a much simpler process if the time is taken
to explain the "why" behind the regulations. As I gain experi-
ence, I nd it more and more important to help the customer get
a perspective on why certain aspects of the acquisition process
What are the biggest differences between doing your work
outside the United States and doing the same thing stateside?
In many ways, contracting is contracting wherever you are, but
there are di erences. Overcoming the language barrier is tough
when dealing with local contractors, but we have a great team of
local nationals within the TCC who help us in this area. Stay-
ing current on the established exchange rates is also challenging.
In most contracts here, we price in euros and fund with dollars
using an exchange rate directed by the undersecretary of defense
(comptroller). e rate changes periodically, so it's imperative to
remember to use the current rate at the time of contract award.
What's the hardest part of your job? How do you overcome it?
Fighting apathy. ere is a strong push to obligate funding, so
often it's not a popular decision to slow down an acquisition in
order to negotiate. I'm sure many of us have heard something to
the e ect of, "We have the funding, so what's the problem?" I'm
not against obligation goals, and there are times when we need
to execute contract actions quickly. But often we give in because
of pressure from our customer or the temptation to take the easy
way out and accept a contractor's proposal as is. I want to be
part of the change in the government acquisition culture, and
this has to start with me. I nd personal satisfaction when I can
combine quick action with strong negotiations.
What one skill or ability is most important in doing your job
Business skills are key; however, I believe it all boils down to
e ective communication. I have to work with my customers
to help them communicate their requirements clearly. When
negotiating contract actions, I have to communicate the gov-
ernment's objective e ectively with the contractors. Lastly, I
need to be able to document the contract le su ciently, so that
someone can come behind me and understand why I made the
decisions that I made.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to a
career similar to yours?
Find ways to enjoy what you do, and be willing to take chances to
get the most out of the contracting career eld. I'm driven to be
part of the generation that helps Army contracting nd smarter
and more e cient ways of accomplishing our mission. Change
excites me and encourages me to seek out new ideas.
If you could break the rules or make the rules, what would
you change or do?
I would like to gure out a way to change the compensation
structure within the contracting eld to tie incentives to negoti-
ated savings. It's challenging to obligate all the funding that is
provided, and speed of execution still needs to be part of the
equation; however, I believe we could help move the culture
in a better direction if our review and our compensation were
directly tied to how hard we negotiated on the government's
---MS. SUSAN L. FOLLETT
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