By Samantha HillSeptember 18, 2018
Army Materiel Command's commanding general's message to Army Contracting Command leaders was clear: help us help you.
"The conversation is about what we need to do, to be better at what we do," said Gen. Gus Perna, as he heard updates from ACC's Commanding General Maj. Gen. Paul Pardew and other leaders during a quarterly update Sept. 12.
Pardew reviewed the command's operational status on current initiatives, including year-end work for fiscal year 2018. The way ahead, Pardew said, is proactive collaboration.
"We are committed to continuous improvement and executing our contracts efficiently in support of Army readiness," Pardew said.
ACC is responsible for delivering readiness through contracting solutions in support of the Army and unified land operations. The command executes more than 165,000 contract actions each fiscal year, comprising about 70 percent of the Army's contract dollars on average.
One of the initiatives is to change the culture behind Army acquisition. Perna challenged ACC leaders to look at the metrics they are using to measure output.
"Metrics are a leadership tool," Perna said. "If they are not helping you to achieve the behavior you want and the culture you want, you need to address that."
During the update, the contracting centers spoke about their year-end progress and discussed issues the centers faced. Kenyata Wesley, executive director of ACC-Aberdeen Proving Ground, said reworking the organization's metrics has already improved its readiness.
As ACC continues to ensure contracting support for the Warfighter, one of the changes Perna said he would like to see is a decrease in bridge contracts, which should not be a normal business practice. Bridge contracts help fill the gaps between contracts by extending existing and short-term noncompetitive ones.
"Status quo is not acceptable," he said.
Perna also voiced his support for contracting officers, encouraging them to push problems to senior commanders for further support. He said he would step in and support as long as the situation is legal, ethical and moral.
The leaders discussed the command's support of other Army organizations, including Army Futures Command, as well. Perna said if Army Futures Command needs acquisition support, ACC needs to assist.
As Hurricane Florence threatened the east coast, Pardew and Perna also covered natural disaster relief. Perna urged the command to stay energized and make assisting in hurricane efforts a priority.
The next step for ACC is to continue to synchronize and integrate capabilities to deliver Army readiness. As the organization continues to drive change in its acquisition culture, Perna praised the progress.
"You ought to be proud of what you have accomplished every year since I have known you," said Perna. "I really appreciate all this command is doing every day. You are knocking down targets."
Perna expressed his faith in ACC's leaders and emphasized the importance of driving change throughout all the levels of the command.
"We can't just say 'work harder,'" he said. "Think of ways to empower and improve the workforce."