Hutchison: ACC ops tempo higher than envisioned
February 21, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--A month after becoming the Army Contracting Command deputy to the commanding general, Michael Hutchison has learned that the ACC headquarters here is a busy place.
"There is a whole lot more going on at the headquarters than I had anticipated," he said. "The operations tempo here is a whole lot higher than what I had envisioned."
Hutchison compared ACC's optempo to a previous assignment at Army Materiel Command headquarters.
"We weren't nearly this busy," he said. "Of course, it was a different time. We were not at war and we weren't trying to resource a 6 to 7, 000-person contracting operation."
The dual-hatted former executive director of the ACC-Rock Island, Ill., contracting center, and former acting executive director of the ACC-National Capital Region, Alexandria, Va., said his role here is evolving.
His goal for the position is "to be the best deputy I can be for (Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, ACC commanding general). I really want to make her life easier. I hope she will view me as a partner and a key advisor in the leadership of ACC."
His general focus is on contracting issues and some of the initiatives under way in the ACC Operations Group's portfolio. He is also maintaining his position as the principal assistant responsible for contracting for ACC-RI and ACC-NCR.
"If you think about it, one of the things that ACC was created to do was to improve the quality of the work that's being done, to standardize processes and procedures across ACC, to create an enterprise approach to contracting," he explained. "Key to that are the initiatives that are being worked out of contracting operations. Ensuring that those initiatives continue to make forward momentum is really fundamental to ACC bringing real value to what's being done in the (contracting) centers."
In addition to the high optempo, Hutchison sees some challenges, including what he called "significant" money and manpower resource challenges.
"Money equals capability. Money equals manpower. Money equals training. Money equals personnel. Money equals travel."
ACC's resource shortfall is also contributing to the contracting workload, he said.
"Sequestration would bump up the contracting workload," he explained, saying every contract modification stimulated by the possibility of sequestration generates additional workload on the contracting officers.
He acknowledged the extra workload will add to the stress already experienced by contracting officers and others who directly support the contracting mission.
"With respect to the workload, the contracting officers will need to do some serious prioritization with the customer," said Hutchison, who relieves stress by visiting historical sites and museums.
"What do they need, what can be slipped? And they have many customers, so the process will have to be repeated with each customer," he said. "They and the customer also have to realize that some things just aren't going to get done.
"Personally, you can get frustrated and angry, but you have no control over it," Hutchison said. "My advice is to let it go and do the best you can."