Questions and answers with the ACC Executive Directo
Jeff Parsons, Executive Director, Army Contracting Command

(The editor recently sat down with the Army Contracting Command executive director for answers to questions heard from around the
command.)

QUESTION: Last fall the command reached its Full Operational Capability status. Why was this event so significant'

ANSWER: It was very important. We were established provisionally as a new command in March 2008 after the Army Materiel Command was charged with standing up and establishing this organization as quickly as it could, as a result of the Gansler Commission, at the direction of the Secretary of the Army. The first major step after the provisional status was to develop a concept plan for what this command would be like.

The next step was building the command as approved by the Army. By filling the approved positions so that we could operate and stand on our own. We achieved that in October 2009, and were able to report that we were staffed to operate as a separate entity and didnAca,!a,,ct have to rely on the AMC staff for direct support. It was a major accomplishment to do all of that in less than a year.

QUESTION: What was the commandAca,!a,,cs biggest success during 2009'

ANSWER: Clearly in my mind the ability to establish a two-star headquarters, staff it up, develop the processes, and to begin operating normally without a lot of assistance from the four-star staff, was a huge success for us.

QUESTION: What are the commandAca,!a,,cs priorities'

ANSWER: The first priority is to continue to grow and develop a professional civilian and military workforce. The truth is, without a professional civilian and military workforce I canAca,!a,,ct achieve the second priority which is maintaining superior customer relationships.

Third is to standardize, improve and assure quality contracting support, business processes and policies exist all across the command. Prior to the establishment of the command, there were a lot of different contracting organizations in existence and, believe it or not, there are different approaches on how to execute a contract.

What we want to do as a command enterprise is standardize business practices, by taking the best and embracing them and standardizing them to provide better quality contracts, and be more responsive to our customers. When customers come to us they will know the kind of service they are going to get in support of the contracting process, and not have to worry about why one contracting office did something different from another one. Also, if we have standardized processes across the command, people can move around the organization and not worry about having to learn new procedures. Part of growing and developing that workforce is being able to move people around to give them different contracting experiences.

The fourth priority is to obtain and maintain the resources necessary to operate the command and continue its growth. Last but definitely not the least, is to enhance the working environment and quality of life for members of the command. This is a retention issue and ties back to the first priority. Not only do we want to ensure that we develop a professional workforce, we want them to work in a good environment. They need to be able to work in an environment where they can perform the mission well -- things like good lighting in the office area, appropriate desk space, and information tools and become important. If we canAca,!a,,ct provide a good working environment we risk the chance of losing valued employees. ItAca,!a,,cs all part of the investment we make in training them and bringing them on board. We revisit our strategic priorites every year to make sure we are on track.

QUESTION: The decision has been made to move ACC Headquarters to Huntsville, Ala. What will the move mean to the ACC Headquarters' The command' Our synergy with AMC'

ANSWER: The decision to move us to Huntsville, Ala. (the future home of the Army Materiel Command, ACCAca,!a,,cs higher headquarters), will keep our synergy aligned with AMC. The plan is to build a new facility on the same campus as AMC and also with the headquarters for the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command. So when you take a look at Huntsville, there will be a very large AMC presence which will create a lot of opportunities to enhance working relationships.

One of the beauties (of the move) is that it will allow ACC employees to not only have a place for our people who may want to move up to a four-star headquarters, but at the contracting level, we will be able to rotate people between the headquarters and the field a lot easier than we probably could in the D.C. area.

Certainly the move will be a challenge for a new organization and disruptive to some extent, but I think we demonstrated by what we were able to do in such a short period of time, by standing up this command, that we will be successful. We have a good success rate of hiring the right type of people to help overcome these challenges.

There will be some breaks in some relationships that have been established between our headquartersAca,!a,,c staff and the field, but again, I think itAca,!a,,cs a temporary lapse. The way we are planning this move, with the phasing of hiring in Huntsville this spring and summer and having some overlap with folks here who are going to move to Huntsville, I think we will maintain the continuity and rapidly rebuild those relationships that we need to interact with our supporting units. Overall I think it will be a good move for the command. I think it will provide a lot of synergy between the one, two and four star commands.

QUESTION: Who is going to be affected'

ANSWER: ACC and the Expeditionary Contracting Command headquarters are the affected organizations. I donAca,!a,,ct think the move will have a significant impact on the military personnel, but certainly will on the civilians. Everybody is going to have to go through a process to determine from a personal standpoint if this is Aca,!Eoethe right thing to do at this point in my life for my family.Aca,!a,,c Those arenAca,!a,,ct easy decisions for most civilians. It definitely will have an impact on people as they go through that process.

Our goal is to try to make it as easy as possible for them. We will respect their decisions when it comes to moving or not moving. For those who decide to make the move, we will do everything we can to make it as painless as possible, and for those who decide not to move, we will do our best to help them try to find a position here in the National Capital Region.

QUESTION: Are any positions staying in the National Capital Region'

Answer: We already have one major contracting center here (the National Capital Region Contracting Center), so we will maintain a presence here. We are reviewing if there are any key positions we want to keep here in order to continue facilitating the relationships we have with federal agencies in the D.C. area. We havenAca,!a,,ct come to any firm conclusions as to how many, if any, positions will stay here in the Washington D.C. area, but I am sure we will rely more on the NCR Contracting Center to do some of the interfacing with other customers in the NCR.

QUESTION: How long will it take to refill positions'

ANSWER: Right now we donAca,!a,,ct have a shortage of applications for any position available. As we start losing personnel, our intent is to start hiring the replacements in Huntsville. I believe that by the time we move the actual headquarters (around August 2011) we should have most of our positions filled.

QUESTION: Does the move set the command back any'

ANSWER: Depending on the challenges that we may or may not face with the move, it could set us back on working on some of the strategic priorities. Overall, I donAca,!a,,ct think it will. It may cause us to take short pauses as we make the transition. I find people give it their all, and I am confident in the type of people we hire to see that we donAca,!a,,ct stall for long, if at all.

QUESTION: Is there a timetable for the move'

ANSWER: The move to Huntsville will be accomplished in a phased approached with the final phase taking place in the August 2011 time frame.

Page last updated Tue April 27th, 2010 at 09:02