JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 16, 2020) -- A human resources specialist with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command was named the 2020 Excellence in Government Mediator of the Year during a virtual awards ceremony hosted in August by the Alamo Federal Executive Board.
Jason Wild, who is responsible for employee relations and the MICC wellness program, was among the civilian employees and uniformed members across central and south Texas recognized for their individual and team contributions to the federal government.
Finalists for the AFEB 2020 Excellence in Government awards were nominated by their agencies and peers as the best in each of the 15 categories. A screening selection panel, represented by a variety of federal agencies reviewed and narrowed down the nominations to the 56 finalists and 36 honorable mentions recognized during the ceremony. Finalists from each category were recognized with either a bronze, silver or gold award winner with gold representing the overall winner.
“My first thoughts were, why me? We go about our business, working hard to be a part of the solution and more specifically solutions for others who are in a dispute, and the next thing you know you've ended up helping a lot of people and saving the government tons of money in the meantime,” Wild said. “We have an amazing group of shared neutrals within the Alamo Federal Executive Board who could have just as easily earned this honor. I am honored to have been considered, and furthermore I feel blessed to have won this year.”
Wild, a native of Conroe, Texas, supported 27 mediations in what was his third full year of mediation and the award period, the final quarter of that period accomplished telephonically due to the COVID-19 environment.
He credits the MICC deputy chief of staff for personnel, Maria Allen, for his journey into mediation that began in October 2017. Allen approached him with her vision of how such training and experience could not only benefit his personal growth but also add a valuable resource for leveraging within the MICC. Allen said the award is well deserved and that Wild continues to use his mediation skills to increase unit morale and make the workplace environment a better place for employees.
“He has a very unique ability to make complex, contentious situations seem easy to resolve and always advocates for the best solution for all parties,” Allen said. “Jason sees people as assets to organizations and understands their value, and through this philosophy he has impacted the (personnel directorate) and organization in a positive way. Through his work, issues are resolved at the lowest level avoiding costly litigation or increased equal employment opportunity complaints and grievances.”
The AFEB Shared Neutrals Consortium is made up of approximately 75 federal volunteers throughout this region who serve as mediators for local federal agencies. This professional cadre conducts no-cost mediations and achieved more than $2.8 million in cost avoidance savings last year alone and is on track to reach this amount this year, according to Lisa Alonzo, the AFEB director at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.
Alonzo said AFEB mediators are highly recognized and require a mandatory 40 hours of vigorous training to graduate as co-mediators before being matched with seasoned lead mediators for additional training as well as having to accomplish annual continuing education requirements.
“Jason excels at being a lead mediator. His passion for mediating is evident as he approaches each session with a sense of excitement,” Alonzo said. “He is not afraid of a challenge and makes himself available for some of our toughest cases in the various agencies. In fact, Jason is a frequent by-name request by some agencies due to his ability and reputation of bringing people together.”
Wild added the MICC office of dispute resolution aims to instill a sense of confidence among command employees and serves as a forum for employees to reach out and work through concerns in an effort to find relief before the need to elevate matters to a formal process.
“It is our goal to teach and train supervisors and leaders across the command to look for signs while possessing the necessary skills to sit down and hash things out with or for their employees,” he said. He goes on to recommend those experiencing issues to reach out to someone who is not close to the issue and explain the situation for an objective viewpoint in hopes of avoiding disputes altogether.
The AFEB director also cited Wild’s efforts to develop co-mediators to become lead mediators and his stepping forward to previously serve in the roles of vice chair and chair of the shared neutrals consortium.
A number of individual and team honorable mentions were also recognized during the excellence in government awards. Those included one MICC individual and two teams at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.
Gary Stevens, a supervisory contract specialist and division chief with MICC-Fort Sam Houston, earned individual honorable mention in the supervisory category for leading the full food services consolidated contracting division under the DOD Category Management initiative. The division was responsible for refining and interpreting policies, guidance and regulatory and statutory requirements to improve and develop reasonable cost-effective solutions to standardize contract processes for the entire $2.4 billion Army food services portfolio.
That initiative, which significantly reduced costs by approximately $13 million per year or $65 million over a five-year contract period, was also key in the MICC full food services team itself earning honorable mention in the small team category. The team’s close collaboration and communication with Army Sustainment Command officials allowed it to develop a streamlined process for executing all pre-award food services contracts across the continental United States using a standardized acquisition approach.
Contributions by Stevens and the full food services team also allowed the MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office to earn honorable mention in the large team category. The contracting office stood up a center of excellence in support of ASC for full food services and dining facility attendant contracts across the MICC, which was recognized by the commanding general of the Army Materiel Command as a top priority. The MICC-Fort Sam Houston contracting office also awarded a $1.4 billion contract to provide conditioned backup power, steam and chilled water services for the National Interagency Biodefense Campus, home to three of the highest biosafety level laboratories in the world. The contracting office also supported the Army’s response to a housing crisis and received national recognition for its acquisition efforts during former President George H.W. Bush’s memorial services.
San Antonio has one of the largest federal communities outside of Washington with more than 130,000 federal employees, civilian and military. Federal Executive Boards were established by President John F. Kennedy in November 1961, and the Alamo Federal Executive Board was given its board status under the authority of the Executive Office of the President of the United States in 1991.
Key leaders in local federal agencies serve on the Alamo Federal Executive Board and collectively act as a board of directors to consider government-wide programs and projects that cross agency lines. The annual AFEB Excellence in Government awards presentation is just one program sponsored by FEBs for Public Service Recognition Week in May. Due to COVID-19, this year’s awards were postponed until August and conducted virtually.
Wes Roeder, chair of the AFEB, said during opening remarks the annual recognition celebrates civil servants who have dedicated themselves to making a difference in the greater San Antonio area, nation and world.
"Our government employees tackle the nation's challenges often behind the scenes. They are engineers and law enforcement officers, nurses, scientists, firefighters and researchers. They work in hospitals, in laboratories, at airports and harbors, and in field offices around the country," Roeder said. "These very people are our friends, co-workers and family members. Government employees are committed to making life better for all. All of these who work to keep us safe, deliver our mail, care for our veterans, find cures for disease and so much more, we are grateful for each and every one."
About the MICC:
Headquartered at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,500 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. As part of its mission, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.