By Giselle LyonsMay 25, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. --After nearly three years leading the Army Contracting Command, Maj. Gen. James Simpson repeats himself every time he speaks about what works so well within this command.
"The greatest asset we have within the Army Contracting Command is our people," Simpson said. "They work hard doing the right things, and that's a lot to ask of a workforce doing a majority of its work in the last quarter of the year, getting quality contracting work done for our Army."
MG Simpson, who was the ACC chief of staff in 2010-2011 before leaving and then returning in 2015, noted that the closeness of the staff was actually the biggest change he saw within the command while he was gone.
"It surprised me how close people in the command had become," Simpson said with an uplifting voice. "Everyone worked together, the staff gelled to support (Army Materiel Command) and our units throughout the world."
Those units include 6,300 people spread throughout more than 100 locations globally. Since ACC has a one-star command, six major contracting centers, and eight contracting support brigades, it truly is enabling readiness everywhere for today's Soldiers. Over the course of the past three fiscal years, ACC executed nearly half a million contract actions valued at more than $167 billion dollars. In order to make all of this happen, teamwork was essential. People supporting each other was not lost on Simpson.
Since Simpson has been at ACC, there have been many changes within the command and the world of Army contracting. He has overseen the consolidation of ACC and the Expeditionary Contracting Command. And while he admits there were growing pains during the time, he also recognized that there was no sense in having the duplicate overhead of two personnel offices, two operations offices, and so on across the staffs.
One thing Simpson always stressed throughout his tenure was dealing with "people issues." He wanted his leaders to communicate down and vice versa, something he recognized that was very difficult in an organization that is globally dispersed.
Still, Simpson believes ACC has been successful because of the level of communication and the way ACC's workforce works together, never letting anything stop the growth of ACC's support to the Army.
He likens ACC to a family, saying "even when (you) have a lack of communication, (you) continue to work together."
A challenge that came in 2016 was the AMC Mission Command Guidance Operation Order that affected the operational, tactical and administrative control of most ACC units. At first, he said, it had a lot of people running around not knowing if anything was going to change.
"But it didn't change anything," he said, talking about how ACC has great synergy with other organizations and maybe even more successful relations. His bottom line was that it improved communication and kept the command working strong.
"We still support; Army Contracting Command is fighting the fight," he said.
Being prepared for that fight is important to Simpson, and he points out that when he says people are his greatest asset, he also means taking care of people. And that means training. He believes in training young interns and contracting personnel to make them ready to perform complex contracting actions.
"Over the last 10-20 years contracting has become increasingly complex, and our priority is to support readiness through contracting, to support the Warfighter downrange. And it all has to do with training, training, training," Simpson said.
Simpson stressed again how great his workforce is when discussing the training opportunities of which they take advantage. He said ACC is a learning organization that can't sit back on its laurels.
He believes the 6,300 employees strive to learn and make things better for the Army, and he hopes he is encouraging them to do so.
"Hopefully that's also an organization I'm handing down to Brig. Gen. (Paul) Pardew, an organization that continues learning and developing, one that is value-added to the Army," he said.
Simpson passes the reigns of command to Pardew on May 31 at a Change of Command ceremony on the Army Materiel Command parade field. Pardew was previously the ACC deputy to the commanding general for OCONUS Operations.
As for Simpson, he is looking forward to hanging up the uniform and being with his family. He plans to enjoy other things he loves, like traveling with his family and North Carolina basketball.
"It's time now for me to move on from my professional love, my love of the Army. Though the Army has had much of my time, my family has always had my heart," he said.
Simpson said he was proud to be associated with ACC twice and feels it's a great way to end his career. When people think of him and his time here, he said he hopes they think of two things.
"One is enabling Army readiness," Simpson said. "But the other is taking care of people. Counseling, and taking care. Those two things are both important."