Army acquisition executive inspires students
June 1, 2012
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (June 1, 2012) -- Intelligently managing taxpayer dollars is a significant responsibility of acquisition personnel, said the Army's acquisition executive, during a recent meeting with students at the Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, or AACoE.
Heidi Shyu, the acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, or ASA(ALT), also discussed the value of contracting and program management as well as the importance of acquisition workforce training.
The secretary delivered enthusiastic and inspirational remarks to acquisition students at the AACoE, and also said those tasked with contracting and program management should consistently strive to locate efficiencies wherever possible, refine their leadership skills and effectively manage money by asking the right questions.
"This is all tied to DOD's 'Better Buying Power' initiatives," Shyu said. "Do you have the right type of contract for a given program? Is this the right decision for the Army?"
The Better Buying Power program, an Office of the Secretary of Defense initiative, is aimed at maximizing productivity, incentivizing industry, increasing competition and lowering prices wherever possible.
"This is an important cultural shift," Shyu said. "You are selected for your leadership skills, to manage contracts and manage relations with industry. Everything that the Army buys, from helicopters to tanks, impacts the warfighter. They are dependent upon you and that is how much responsibility you have. I am asking each and every one of you to find out how we can become more efficient."
The Army Acquisition Center of Excellence, formally stood up in January 2011. It is the first facility to centralize Army institutional training, education, and career development courses for the acquisition, logistics, and technology workforce.
Some students at the AACoE focus on contracting, while others zero in on program management. Shyu said it's important to understand both fields, with a mind to how they relate to one another.
"I spend a lot of my time ensuring that the best program management and contracting folks understand both worlds," she said.
As part of her discussion on lowering prices and gaining efficiency, Shyu talked about the Better Buying Power program's "should-cost, will-cost" effort designed to find areas where anticipated prices can be lowered, while still preserving the development of key capabilities.
"We're asking each contracting officer and program manager to locate efficiencies and intelligently manage their programs," Shyu said. "Overall, look at each functional area. How well is your program manager or program executive office managing your portfolio? Are there systematic issues the Army is having?"
Students of Army acquisition should also strive to achieve an understanding of the Army's modernization strategy and, in particular, recognize the need for a near-, mid- and long-term science and technology strategy, Shyu said. She also stressed the importance of making sound investments in future capability and being a "smart buyer."
"Looking toward the next twenty years, I challenge you to think differently," Shyu said. "How are we mapping our S&T strategy to help achieve our objectives and solve problems? S&T is the seed plant of our future. We have to nurture this seed plant to do what we need to do in the future."
Shyu, who received an enthusiastic reception from AACoE students, ended her remarks by reflecting upon her role as AAE and acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
"I have an opportunity to impact the future of the Army," Shyu said. "I don't take that responsibility lightly."