Mueller prepares to move on
March 17, 2014
For almost four decades, Bernd Mueller has served the U.S. and German governments, immersed in the world of contracting and has seen his share of changes.
Mueller is the chief of the 409th Contracting Support Brigade's Theater Contracting Center Host Nation Division in Kaiserslautern, Germany. A local national employee, Mueller oversees the management of indirect construction contracting on behalf of the U.S. government. The division also manages acquisition cross-services agreements with a number of European countries as well as utilities procurements for garrisons in Germany.
Mueller began his 37-year career as a purchasing agent in the Bremerhaven Area Procurement Office for the U.S. Army Procurement Agency, Europe, after reviewing advertisements in a local labor office. Since then, he has seen a lot of changes in contracting.
"We now do a lot more with computers. When I started, we used typewriters and manifold papers, which was 10 sheets of copies stuck together. If you made a mistake, you had to throw the whole thing away. It was a nightmare," Mueller says with a chuckle. "In 1979, they introduced copy machines, in 1980, they brought in the computers."
One of the biggest changes he's seen in contacting was the introduction of the Federal Acquisition Regulation in 1984.
"This changed how we do business," according to Mueller. "The FAR changed the application of laws and regulation from totally restrictive to a more permissive outlook. The relaxation of business rules allowed, to a certain extent, adaptation of foreign commercial practices."
Mueller said he embraces the changes in contracting, saying it's what makes things about the field interesting.
"You never do the same thing twice, every contract is different, the rules change, there is new insight, or lessons learned," said Mueller.
Mueller, who will be retiring June 1, has held a variety of positions within Army contracting. He was the Fuerth, Nuernberg regional contracting office chief until it closed in 1995 and later moved to Kaiserslautern in 2010, where he now resides.
With his wealth of knowledge, Mueller has always looked at mentoring future leaders.
"Local nationals, in the various countries working in support of the war fighter, are the keepers of the experience, training and corporate knowledge amassed during the years in their specific areas of responsibility," he said. "The rotation policy for Department of the Army civilians and Soldiers prevent continuity from taking hold and knowledge being passed on. That affords some local nationals to attain higher rank and responsibility within the commands and prevents fluctuation and loss of corporate knowledge."
For those local nationals coming up the ranks, Mueller said they should saturate themselves with any and everything about their career field.
"Training and experience go hand in hand," said Mueller. "It takes time to integrate job experience and formal training and to forge the ability to exercise sound business judgment while still applying the requirements of the laws and regulations. Don't rush it."
Mueller said he has enjoyed his career and hopes he gave something back.
"Passing on knowledge to the young and restless, putting them on the right path to success, that has always been my goal" said Mueller.