By Ben Gonzales, Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeDecember 3, 2014
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Dec. 3, 2014) -- The deputy assistant secretary of the Army for procurement spoke to senior contracting professionals during the November Mission and Installation Contracting Command Acquisition Leadership Conference in San Antonio.
Harry Hallock spoke on what it takes to be a leader in today's Army during an evening dinner with the conference attendees.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Gabbert, the MICC commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Bowens led the three-day conference that included more than 100 commanders, directors and senior enlisted members representing MICC organizations from throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
As the DASA (P) since July 2013, Hallock manages the Army's procurement mission including development and dissemination of policies, processes and contracting business systems. He directs the evaluation, measurement and continuous improvement actions of more than 270 Army contracting offices worldwide executing contracts for major weapons systems, base logistics support, construction and wartime operational contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Hallock's rise to be the Army's senior contracting officer began as a 22-year-old GS-5 intern in 1979 at Warren, Michigan. Fresh from the University of Delaware with his business administration degree, he set out on a career that would span more than 33 years at Warren in jobs of increasing responsibility before moving to Washington, D.C. in June 2013.
Along the way, Hallock learned all aspects of the acquisition career field from supervisors, mentors and superiors. One aspect he stressed was that the success of the Army contracting enterprise is directly related to how, or if, its worforce is empowered.
"We will only make the 8,000 members in our enterprise stronger once we empower them with training and the tools to contract smarter," he said. Hallock emphasized the following aspects to empower the workforce:
- Assign projects and duties according to an employee's skill so that they can see the assignment through.
- Listen to and communicate with your employees, but do not micromanage.
- Appoint decision-making responsibilities to your employees to show that you trust your employees.
- Create a positive workplace by valuing your employees' contributions to the team, and treat them with dignity and respect.
- Recognize the hard work of your employees.
- Provide your employees with valuable resources, and equip them with the right training and resources needed.
Hallock said Army contracting has always had its challenges, adding that in many respects, that is just the nature of the business.
"During more than a decade of contingency contracting, Congress stood up three oversight commissions to ensure we contracted smartly and we're held accountable," he said. "We must continue to effectively manage declining contracting dollars and requirements, and to challenge the defense industry to provide affordable products and innovations at lower costs. In addition, we must all continue to focus on oversight and quality products with an increased emphasis being placed on contract administration."
As the functional career representative for contracting, Hallock reminds the Army Acquisition Corps that, "We live in a glass bowl in the Department of Defense, and we are charged to act on behalf of the taxpayer. Thus, our actions have to be transparent. As the Army contracting enterprise moves ahead in this constrained budgetary environment, we must contract 'smarter' while increasing our oversight to ensure contracting personnel are doing their jobs to the best of their ability.
"We must continue to work with the requirements community to effectively define and analyze their requirements," Hallock said. "If we don't take the time to really look at and prioritize the requirements, we spend time and money on designing and creating something that may not be what we need."
Another essential quality for the success of the Army contracting enterprise stressed by Hallock is teamwork.
"Leaders need to encourage teamwork not only within our organizations, but also within the entire acquisition community. We must build relationships and stop relying on email or texts. Interaction with colleagues is vital," he said.
At the end of Hallock's address to MICC leaders, he took out a letter he received from a colleague he worked with at the Army's Tank-Automotive and Armament Command Contracting Center in Warren as he left to become the DASA(P). Although reluctant to read the letter, it highlighted characteristics and traits he did not realize that others saw in him.
The author of the letter confessed that she used to have naïve perceptions of leadership, until she worked with Hallock. In the letter, the author wrote, "Because of you, I take it for granted that all leaders believe it is important to encourage employees and to recognize successful performance. Because of you, I think leaders are interested in soliciting my opinion and considering any suggestion I may have. Because of you, I think leaders get out of the way and let employees accomplish the mission without micromanaging the minutia and do not ask for information they don't need or don't plan to review. Because of you, I think leaders care about the quality of the product and the integrity of the process and professionalism. Because of you, I take it for granted that leaders have unquestionable ethics. Because of you, I take it for granted that leaders value employee development and mentor them to succeed."
Hallock concluded his remarks by asking acquisition leaders to accept accountability.
"We must all make a personal commitment to being accountable -- to ourselves and to others," he said. "Think about contracting actions from a mindset of how best to meet the needs of our customers while being efficient and conscious of the consequences of our actions. By continuing to encourage our workforce to think about their actions, we are training the next generation to be true business advisers to our customers."