For five members of the Army Contracting Command -- Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., receiving any kind of recognition is always an honor but when the award comes from the Secretary of the Army, the recognition carries a special meaning.

Sonya DeLucia, contracting officer from the Huachuca Division, Ariz., is the recipient of the 2013 Secretary of the Army Award for Excellence in Contracting Outstanding Contracting Officer Award in the category of Specialized Services and Construction Contracting.

Winning the award for Exceptional Support of the AbilityOne program was the New England Soldier Systems and Individual Equipment Team from the Natick Division, Mass. The team consists of four contract specialists: Sean Murphy, Roberta Boswell, Mark Marchioli, and Matthew Buchanan.
DeLucia's award nomination cited her performance as a contracting officer responsible for the re-compete and execution of a $788 million contract for operations, maintenance and defense of Army communications system in Southwest and Central Asia. This contract, awarded without protest, provided for the operation, maintenance, and defense of Army communications equipment and information systems at over 40 sites in several countries with over 1,100 contractor personnel, according to DeLucia.

"This acquisition was the most rewarding and challenging action that I have done in my 15 years of contracting and it is an honor to receive this award," DeLucia said.

"The most rewarding part of putting this contract in place was knowing that it provides critical support for end-users in a war zone. I also had a personal stake in the effort. My son was in the Army and served in two back-to-back assignments in Iraq for 27 months. Keeping communications in place for him meant life or death in some instances. There were actually two Soldiers in his unit who were killed during the second deployment and this was very difficult for him. Lack of communications didn't contribute to their deaths but having operational communication equipment allowed him to call in reinforcements to secure the area so more lives and equipment weren't lost or damaged."

According to DeLucia, the contract took two years from start to finish and required reviews and approvals up to Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy level. Also during this time, there were numerous changes in acquisition and she had to continually assess how new regulations and guidance would impact the effort.

"It was definitely a team effort and we worked long hours, but the time paid off as the DPAP Peer Review Team commended our work for providing extensive, well written documentation supporting the initial, interim, and final evaluations," stated DeLucia.

The nomination for the NESSIE team stated that the members demonstrated initiative, skill, and commitment in utilizing the AbilityOne program to meet the challenges of an ever-changing Army at war and provide jobs for people with disabilities. As a result, the team processed 120 contracting actions and obligated more than $57 million to AbilityOne and its agencies, according to Murphy.

"We are thrilled about winning this award," said Murphy who serves as bthe ACC-APG Soldier Systems branch chief in Natick, Mass. "A core NESSIE value is to leverage the AbilityOne program as a unique acquisition strategy to meet customer needs, provide the best value to the taxpayer, and to support the disabled. I've been working with AbilityOne programs for more than 13 years and I've been on many facility tours. These tours always renew my spirit by the tremendous pride, effort and love of country displayed by the workers within the facilities."

Mark Marchioli, team lead and contracting officer added, "The AbilityOne contracts that we have awarded resulted in hundreds of jobs created for disabled veterans, which is a very gratifying aspect to our job."