ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, commanding general, Army Contracting Command, held a town hall with the workforce here, followed by a tour of the ACC-RI facilities.

In what is likely her last trip to ACC-RI as ACC commanding general, Nichols spoke Sept. 18 about the value of the contracting workforce. She also discussed the future of ACC as she sees it.

She thanked the workforce for being "incredible citizens and partners" that were diligent in completing the mission in spite of the blows ' furlough and automatic budget cuts ' that have been dealt over the past year.

"I also wanted to tell you that the command, especially you all, that when you have the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army going forward to ask the (secretary of defense) to exempt our workforce ' ours was the only workforce besides emergency people ' that they were championing for you because they get what you do," said Nichols.

Looking into the next fiscal year and beyond, Nichols said she does not have a "crystal ball." However, as far as ACC's future in the coming years, Nichols said she believes there will be a holistic approach to determining the most deliberate and appropriate ways in which to address budgetary challenges.

Nichols said leaders may look at shifting some workload and potentially consolidating some locations to reduce redundancy.

"We have 103 sites in this command and we cannot sustain 103 sites," said Nichols. "Some are just 20 miles away from each other. Some places you have two ACC organizations with a footprint."

However, Nichols said that if an office is closed, that does not necessarily mean people will lose their jobs.

"Maybe that person will stay there and work virtually for someone in another place," said Nichols. "That's the power of (the virtual contracting enterprise). Using that to champion for the past couple years to get us into the future, operating like a 21st century type of organization allows us to be global, it allows us to be everywhere."

Nichols said she believes ACC will fare reasonably well in fiscal year 2014, noting that there needs to be an 8 percent reduction in the field. However, she said that because the leadership teams have been helping headquarters manage workload at vacancy rates of approximately 10 percent, ACC does not have to cut anyone in the field at this point.

Beyond fiscal 2014, Nichols said there is little known and that the command must place priority on being open, transparent and sharing a real dialogue.

Before moving onto questions from the workforce, Nichols assured the contracting professionals here that the everyday work that is accomplished is known and noticed by those with exemption powers.