It began with a question - "Is there a smarter way to do it?" - and ended not only with cost-savings for the Army, but with one U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center engineer taking center stage for his efforts.

Greg Clark, product quality management division section chief for the CCDC AvMC Engineering Directorate, is the recipient of the 2019 Defense Acquisition Workforce Award for Production, Quality and Manufacturing. He received his award from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord Oct. 29 at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes in Arlington, Virginia. He is the first representative from the Army, Army Futures Command and CCDC to win in the category.

"It was a shock," Clark said. "I had to sleep on it before it hit home - I really didn't understand the magnitude of it. I am floored to say the least, quite surprised, and humbled for sure."

In July 2018 Clark took the question, "Is there a smarter way to do it?" and applied it to his work with Army aviation contracts. Each aircraft part is associated with a quality assurance code which, in some cases, may mean a first article test or product verification is required. Clark and his team analyzed all the non-critical aircraft parts and components - approximately 10,000 - to determine criteria that would indicate if the first article test requirement is necessary. Clark said first article tests can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $500,000, which is sometimes more than the contract value. By the end of his analysis, it was determined that the requirement could be removed from close to 3,000 items.

"An analysis of this magnitude had not been completed in over 20 years prior to Mr. Clarks' initiative. This review led to a creation of an innovative process that increased quality assurance oversight of aircraft components, increased availability of aviation components to the Army supply and created cost avoidances for aviation maintenance, overhaul and productions contracts. All of these accomplishments support the operational readiness of the Warfighter," said Paul Anderson, chief, aviation systems quality branch, product quality management division, for AvMC's Engineering Directorate.

Approximately 175,000 individuals make up the defense acquisition workforce, which is comprised of the Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of the Air Force, defense agencies and field activities. Acquisition professionals who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to excellence and professionalism are recognized annually for their efforts. Lord presented 19 individual awards and four team awards at the ceremony.

"It is important that we continue to recognize the outstanding contributions of our Defense acquisition professionals who are critical in supporting our Warfighter and the defense mission," Lord said in the announcement memo.

Clark, who has worked at AvMC since 2002, has been a government civilian since 2006. He also received the Department of the Army Commanders Award for Civilian Service in June.

"Mr. Clark is a proven transformational leader with extensive experience in the areas of strategic planning, continuous process improvement and quality assurance," Anderson said. "He has taken initiative and a proactive approach to improve the organization's core mission functions with the objective of increasing employee effectiveness and efficiency. His professionalism, leadership and exemplary performance of duty have resulted in a distinguished Department of Defense civilian professional."

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The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.