Responsiveness, continuity, team cohesion keys to success
Clay Cole is the deputy to the commanding general for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Aug. 26, 2020) -- It has been a while since I have addressed the Mission and Installation Contracting Command workforce, so I would like to take this opportunity to pass along my thoughts on a few things. I want to briefly address the command responsiveness to crisis events, continuity of operations during the pandemic, and maintaining team cohesiveness and individual awareness of Army Materiel Command operations.

As you are all keenly aware, the Soldiers of the contracting support brigades and contracting battalions stand constantly ready to execute contingency missions at home and abroad, often times on very short notice. These teams were crucial to the Army’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, Seattle and numerous other locations, and we laud their efforts. However, I want to make certain that everyone understands that the responsiveness and agility of the MICC is not only within the combat forces but also resides at the individual MICC garrison office level. The rapid response capability and speed of execution has been repeatedly demonstrated over the past several years. Most recently, several of our installations sprang into action as Logistics Civil Augmentation Program administrators when quarantine stations were stood up across the Training and Doctrine Command footprint. Garrison offices have provided reach back support to other installations hard hit by hurricanes and other natural disasters. The MICC staff works tirelessly performing mission analysis, collecting data and synthesizing information for other senior-level decision makers. MICC employees regularly step forward and volunteer to deploy to contingency locations and perform extraordinarily well under adverse conditions. Sadly, too often we overlook the mundane, fail to praise the support efforts and focus solely on the shiny object in front of us. I want you to know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed and that all of you can be proud of how you support this command, the Army and this nation.

The current pandemic situation has presented more than a few changes to how the MICC executes its continuity of operations mission. We responded well to the initial contingency mission, and we continue to support that. However, the need to have continuity of our regular mission of installation and mission support continues just as before the pandemic … it is just a little more difficult to execute. As a command, we took the change in stride, and I am highly pleased and thoroughly amazed at how well we have adapted to operations in a near virtual workspace. I am pleased to note that our contract awards continue to keep pace with the needs of the Army and our primary mission partners. The workforce has readily adapted to the use of new virtual tools such as MS Teams, GVS and a host of other collaboration applications and has driven home the fact that we can perform our mission seamlessly from almost any point on the globe. Employees have turned their dining rooms, spare bedrooms and other parts of their homes into remote MICC offices without missing a beat. It has been a truly remarkable feat.

This transition has not been without some difficulties. We have had to adjust to ever-changing and pandemic-specific emerging programs, unclear guidance from senior DOD levels and confusion from both our mission partners and the industrial base. Reporting and tracking requirements have increased and the very real onset of audits have added to our workload. It is with these things in mind that I remind all of you of the need to maintain thorough and complete file documentation of actions, decisions and all things related to contract operations, and keep Virtual Contracting Enterprise paperless contract files properly updated. As I have mentioned hundreds of times before, VCE PCF is the official contract file, and it is the data source from which Army- and Office of the Secretary of Defense-level decision data is drawn. It is also the primary source of contract information for myself and the commanding general on contract operations. So, please make sure that you are properly entering and maintaining accurate and relevant information in PCF.

Lastly, I want to address maintaining team cohesiveness. I know that we are, as a command, highly responsive. However, as a result of the high percentage of telework operations, I fear that people are losing contact with the ebb and flow and normal personal interaction with their peers in the office and the command in general. People are being productive, doing their jobs and executing tasks but not always engaging with their peers and office mates and not tracking what is going on within the MICC, Army Contracting Command or AMC. The dynamics of spontaneous interactions, exchange of ideas and awareness of emerging issues, context of actions, and priorities are dampened under the current environment. I am especially concerned about how we will effectively on-board new employees once we are able to hire again.

Frankly, I don’t have a simple solution, but I do believe that leaders and employees need to have frequent meetings and calls to check the welfare of team members and communicate priorities and expectations, discuss issues or concerns, or just to have bull sessions to help build trust, enhance team cohesion and maintain focus.

I appreciate all that you do and wish all of you the best during these trying times.

Contracting for Soldiers! With Honor!