1. What is the mission of NCMA?

The National Contract Management Association mission actually falls under the Department of Defense Better Buying Power 2.0 in advancing the contract management profession. With more than 22,000 members, NCMA is dedicated to the professional growth and educational advancement of procurement and acquisition personnel worldwide. We strive to serve and inform the profession and offer opportunities for the open exchange of ideas in neutral forums. Our vision is for contract management to be viewed by all organizations -- public and private -- as a challenging and rewarding profession and essential business management function that directly contributes to organizational success, so that people will recognize, prepare for, and seek out positions; and universities will provide undergraduate and graduate degree programs and courses designed to prepare students for entry into it. NCMA defines the standards and body of knowledge for the profession, including tools that enable entry, development, and advancement, and a model recognized for innovation, effective operations, and agile responsible governance.

2. Your members include both industry and government contracting professionals -- how does NCMA meet both of their needs?

The strength of NCMA lies in its diversity and providing the means to communicate with each other to better understand the other's perspective. The more that government and industry both understand each other, the better requirements are understood, solicitations structured, proposals responsive, but most importantly, the more effectively the Army and federal government meet their missions. Training needs of contracting professionals are universal and many professionals will work in both sectors at some time in their careers. Thus, NCMA offers a wide variety of programs with all of our content geared to specific competencies within our contract management body of knowledge and Defense Acquisition University.

3. What advice do you have for young contracting professionals about their futures?

Our profession is a highly demanding, complex, and responsible one that manages the flow of goods and services across our economy. The federal government and the Army specifically are dependent on industry to meet their obligations to their citizens. Contracting managers are the ones overseeing this process. Their education and training requirements continue to grow. Statutes, laws, and policies are always increasing. The skills required to be effective include knowledge of global, geo-political, and industry trends all the way down to the latest regulatory or office policy changes. There is always more work than there are available, professional contracting managers to handle it. The difficulties of the current budget and political environment make things even more difficult. However, it is in challenging circumstances like this when the opportunities are the best. Government and industry executives, technical experts and program managers depend on and desire contracting professionals as never before. This is a great time to be entering into or advancing within the field!

4. How has contracting changed over the last 10 years?

The complexity of the contracting profession has grown. Whether it is local guidance or various statutes, there is more to know and the bar in terms of education, knowledge, and experience for entry into and staying within the field has been raised. However, the profession has matured. The stature of NCMA , its leaders, and the certifications, education, and other programs it offers has gone up as a reflection of this increased level of recognition and realization of how vital acquisition and contracting are to meeting the nation's needs, particularly our defense and national security.

5. What are the biggest challenges for contracting professionals?

There is usually a movement at any given time either toward more streamlining, such as getting things done faster and with less review, or toward building more oversight and quality into the process. Today, it's a little of both. Our customers want things done faster and more cost effectively, while at the same time they want the process to be fair, more competition between prospective suppliers, rigorous analysis, proper oversight, and an improved outcome. In other words, we need to do it all. Contracting will be the focus in the near future as hiring freezes and greater retirements place greater responsibilities on those remaining. However, our contracting workforce is second to none and we will once again demonstrate our prowess in delivering value to the American people.