By Terri StoverMarch 18, 2019
What happens when a busy logistics management office goes from seven employees down to two, but the work keeps coming? They dig in and get the job done.
That is exactly what Michele Stofko and Kelly Gibson did in the Security Assistance Command's Logistics and Acquisition office, located in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Gibson at the time was the chief of the Acquisition Support Branch. She is now the chief of the Commercial Repair and Return Branch. Stofko is a logistics management specialist in the Acquisition Support Branch. The branch provides pre- and post- contract award support for USASAC's non-standard and unique foreign military sales Soldier support requirements.
"It's not big stuff or high dollar, but it's essential equipment - everything from boots and gloves to body armor," said Ann Scott, chief of the Products and Services Division. "Some of the requests they get are off the wall. Some of them truthfully belong in [other areas of the security assistance enterprise]. That leaves Services and Products Division as one of the few remaining options for customers to get support. I tell the branch that that makes them more important, not less important."
The Army Security Assistance Enterprise is made up of different organizations and oversees security assistance programs and the foreign military sales process from start to finish. USASAC is a key part of the enterprise.
In mid-2018, due to a convergence of unforeseeable circumstances, Stofko and Gibson were left as the only two of seven employees remaining in the Acquisition Support Branch. The other employees left due to long-term medical leave, found other positions, retired or moved away for other reasons. Going from 100 percent down to 29 percent would make some employees want to give up.
"That's not in us," Stofko said.
"For five months, until we could get vacancies backfilled, those two showed a level of focus, loyalty to mission, technical expertise and professionalism that was truly impressive," Scott said. "They were the 100 percent, but were doing 200 percent of the work. Thanks to these two employees, no contracts lapsed, and we got all of our expiring cases done on time."
On top of all the work that had to be completed, the organization had to execute a physical move from one building to another one on post. There were "close to 100 boxes of contract documents alone to be moved," said Scott.
Also during that time "they went through an audit of our Government Purchase Card Program," said Scott, "and they 'on boarded' three new employees."
This office processes different types of contracts, which each have to be handled differently, and there were stacks of contracts on each desk.
When asked how they tackled this monumental task, they laughed while answering almost simultaneously, "We had to constantly reprioritize. What needs to be done today?"
Stofko and Gibson have worked together for over 30 years. "We finish each other's sentences," Stofko said.
"We laughed through it or we would have cried," Gibson added. "We are mission focused. We just kept pressing on. We had to accomplish the mission."
There were some long hours worked to make sure every dollar was spent according to each contract. Their families were understanding of the long hours too, as both have husbands who have worked for USASAC at one time. They know the importance of the mission, just as these specialists do.
Both women have an FMS background, not acquisition. However, "It matters to us," Stofko said. They worked their way through the organization, learning from each directorate.
"We've held several different positions, and have come full circle in the process," said Stofko. "There is constant learning [taking place]," added Gibson. Each one said they have had hands-on experience in almost every country program at USASAC.
One of the three lines of effort for USASAC is to "Develop Security Assistance Professionals and Leaders." Both women epitomize this LOE, as well as help develop new employees as they enter the organization.
They are hard workers, but they are humble as well. They said they had "awesome support from the contracting team at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, office of the Army's Acquisition Contacting Command. "They provide wonderful support to our FMS team," Gibson said.
The New Cumberland organization knows all that goes into the work of the Services and Products Division. The organization recognized their efforts. While it is their job to do, it is nice to receive recognition, with both employees receiving awards for their efforts during that demanding stretch of time.
"I simply can't say enough good about these two professionals," said Scott. "The whole branch often goes unnoticed because it's not involved in the big, expensive FMS programs, or part of a regional office, but these ladies are true experts at what they do, are devoted to USASAC, and are completely customer-oriented."
USASAC New Cumberland location employs 262 employees who focus primarily on the execution of foreign military sales cases.