By Ms. Susan L. FollettFebruary 3, 2017
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: 411th Contracting Support Brigade, U.S. Expeditionary Contracting Command
TITLE: Government Purchase Card Branch chief; supervisory procurement analyst
DAWIA CERTIFICATION: Level III in contracting; Level I in logistics and program management
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 6
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 24 (U.S. Air Force, retired 2010)
EDUCATION: MBA, University of Phoenix; B.S. in resource management, Troy University
AWARDS: Commander's Award for Civilian Service; Army Achievement Award (Civilian)
The challenges and rewards of OCONUS work
Anthony Dunaway is a busy guy. As Government Purchase Card (GPC) Branch chief and supervisory procurement analyst for the 411th Contracting Support Brigade in Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, he manages a robust program of more than 1,200 managing/card accounts, supporting warfighters in the United States Forces Korea (USFK) theater of operations. The operational tempo is high, with many of the situations supported by Dunaway and his team time sensitive or needed immediately to fulfill mission requirements.
Between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, the branch reviewed and monitored 32,446 transactions that totaled $31.44 million and processed more than 2,300 cardholder and billing official applications. The branch also provided GPC live training to more than 1,500 cardholders, billing officials and resource managers, and provided timely GPC support to 28 rotational units supporting the 2nd Infantry Division. For that work, the branch received an exceptional rating during a July/August 2016 Procurement Management Review conducted by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Procurement.
"We support all of the branches of service here in USFK, so the phone calls, emails, office visits and requirement requests flow in at a high rate each and every day," said Dunaway. "Something new or different always seems to surface and it's never the same thing twice. I've never had a job where I worked hard all day and left to go home with more work to do the next day--and there is never an idle moment."
The biggest challenges he faces? Turnover and time difference. "A large number of our customers are here on one-year tours, so once we establish a good rapport, they leave and it is déjà vu all over again," said Dunaway. "We do our best to overcome this by keeping the communications open so we are prepared for the transitions to make them as seamless as possible."
The time difference in Seoul--14 hours ahead of EST--adds another layer of complexity. "Sometimes it is a challenge to communicate with vendors that are located stateside," he said. "And, because we are geographically separated from the United States, the shipping and receiving of critical parts can take longer than desired."
Given the OCONUS location, finding a vendor to meet some of the requirements can be a challenge, Dunaway said, and the language barrier often further complicates things. To combat that hurdle, the team includes people fluent in English and Korean. Having a good team of attorneys also helps, he added. "The business practices here are much different than what I was accustomed to: Local vendors will attempt to 'reward' the procuring activities with gifts during the holidays. Fortunately, we get great ethics briefings from our offices of counsel on how to handle those situations."
Dunaway came to the Army after a three-decade career in the Air Force. "I initially planned to join for four years, as a way to pay for my college education. I left 24 years later, having also earned an MBA, so I'd say it was an excellent decision." He retired in 2010 at the rank of master sergeant, and most of his career was spent in weapons and acquisition logistics. During his Air Force service, he was a billing official in a program that was managed by the Army and he became interested in how well the Army supported Air Force requirements. "When I retired from the Air Force, I had an opportunity to work for the Army in the GPC program, and it has been a pleasure right from the beginning," he said.
The transition from one branch of service to another has been relatively seamless, he added. "There is really not much difference between Army contracting and Air Force contracting, with the exception of service-unique requirements that allow the Air Force to procure items that the Army doesn't and vice versa," he said.
Helping to further smooth that change was an early supervisor: Andre Pelliccia, GPC of the the Business Oversight Branch in the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "He was an excellent mentor, as he assisted me with the change from the Air Force climate to the Army climate, and he was also an advocate of education and self-improvement," Dunaway said. "Acquisition is a constantly changing environment, so it is important to continuously learn to keep up with the changes."
For Dunaway, the best learning opportunity so far has been the Army Acquisition Intermediate Contracting Course; he was able to obtain all of the necessary requirements to achieve Level II certification in contracting in four weeks. But one class isn't sufficient, he noted. "Earn a bachelor's degree in business and perhaps a master's degree as well," he said. "And keep an open mind: Acquisition is fast-paced. Take advantage of all of the education and training opportunities that the Army has to offer."
This article was originally published in the January -- March 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine.