One of the simplest but most important ways to honor AAW achievements is through awards.

In the previous issue of Army AL&T, I discussed different ways in which supervisors can motivate the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW), and how they must use the tools available to them to recruit and retain talent. One of the motivators I mentioned was a simple one: recognition.

In the office or in the lab or in the field, you've seen their hard work, you've encouraged their successes, and you want to share those achievements with our broader acquisition community.

How do you share that recognition? One vital avenue is to nominate your employees for awards. The Army offers so many programs that it's virtually impossible not to find an award that fits the accomplishments of our hardworking personnel. For example, the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army oversees upward of 30 award programs. Some recognize outstanding performance, from leadership to innovation to public service. Others focus on diversity and equal opportunity. These programs ensure that outstanding Soldiers and civilians who exemplify Army values receive recognition. Additionally, the Army offers awards specific to the acquisition community. The Army Acquisition Executive's Excellence in Leadership Awards, the Secretary of the Army Excellence in Contracting Awards, and the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) Acquisition Awards are some of the most prominent.

You can also have your employees share their expertise with their peers. Accompanying this issue of Army AL&T is a supplement containing the works of the winners of the 2017 Major General Harold J. "Harry" Greene Awards for Acquisition Writing. And throughout every issue of Army AL&T are subject matter experts who have been encouraged and given the time to write articles that bring a focus to their work.

But let's take a deeper dive into awards, particularly the USD(AT&L) Acquisition Awards. There are 14 Workforce Individual Achievement Awards for which AAW members are eligible, in categories ranging from Acquisition in an Expeditionary Environment to Test and Evaluation. And each comes with the potential for a monetary award of $5,000. Each Army acquisition unit is allowed to submit one nominee in each category. But in 2017, Army acquisition units submitted a total of only 22 nominees (and of those, only 17 were qualified to receive the award--read the submission rules!). Out of 39,000-plus members of the Army Acquisition Workforce, there were only 17 qualified nominations, just over one per category. We know that's not an accurate reflection of the AAW's talent.

Consider the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award, which recognizes organizations, groups and teams that have demonstrated exemplary use of innovation and best acquisition practices to achieve outstanding acquisition outcomes for the warfighter and the taxpayer. In 2006, the Army had 27 nominations for this prestigious award, rising to a high of 33 nominations in 2009 and 2010. By 2016, the number of nominations had plunged to 10 before rebounding to 18 in 2017. Again, Army acquisition leaders are dramatically underutilizing this award.

At the end of the day, nominating people for awards is about talent management. It's about finding a way to keep the right person in the right job at the right time. Recognizing people for their work and their successes is important. As a supervisor, it doesn't cost you anything more than time and effort to nominate people for awards throughout the year. Recognizing people by nominating them for an award is probably the strongest message that you can send to advocate for those people and to motivate them--that you've recognized they're working hard, you see their successes and you want to share those successes with our broader community.

A little bit of recognition is one of our best tools for garnering great performance from the talent of our workforce. Monetary rewards are wonderful, but quite often that's not what motivates people--especially those who've chosen to work in the AAW. Private industry can offer more money, but it can't offer the chance to serve. It can't provide the daily work that connects our workforce to our warfighters, the value of being a public servant and working for DOD. As we seek to retain and recruit talent, we can't lose sight of the fact that people who come into this business do so to get an opportunity to take on more authority and responsibility than they would in private industry, and to do unique work that they couldn't do elsewhere. So let's reward them for their willingness to serve and excel.

Nominations for the USD(AT&L) awards will open in May. The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) is the official collection point for Army nominations. USAASC will compile the nominations and submit them to senior leadership, who will then select and forward the Army submissions to USD(AT&L) for consideration.

Detailed information on each award and instructions for submitting nominations can be found at . And for tips on how to write and submit a winning package, go to "And the Award Goes To …" at

This article will be published in the April -- June 2018 Army AL&T magazine.