Contracting officer leveraging remote assignment to build upon skills
The remote aspect of accomplishing a developmental assignment for Tianna Seaman is allowing her build upon her own skills and improve acquisition workforce processes while continuing to balance the demands of work and life. She is finishing a remote assignment with the Acquisition Innovation through Technology team in support of the office of the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for procurement later this month. Seaman is a contracting officer with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Riley, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (July 21, 2021) -- Balancing the demands of work and life proves challenging particularly when considering professional development assignments requiring lengthy commitments, but for a Fort Riley, Kansas, contracting officer, a remote opportunity presents the convenience for not only building upon her own skills but also benefitting processes impacting the entire acquisition workforce.

Tianna Seaman from the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Riley admits she passed up previous development assignments over the years due to the necessity of travel to perform temporary duties elsewhere for months at a time.

“When you’re a mom and a military spouse, you kind of need to be home. My husband is a Blackhawk pilot; his daily schedule when he is home fluctuates, and when you throw in his TDYs, rotations and deployments, I don’t have the opportunity to participate in things like this,” Seaman said. “This developmental, however, was offered as a 100% virtual opportunity. Over the last six years, this was the first virtual developmental assignment I have seen, so I jumped at the opportunity.”

As a MICC-Fort Riley contracting officer, she is primarily responsible for accomplishing pre- and post-contract awards in support of the Fort Riley Garrison. Following an email to the Army contracting workforce distributed last fall for a chance to serve remotely on the Acquisition Innovation through Technology team in support of the office of the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for procurement, Seaman leapt at the chance and began the developmental assignment in October 2020.

Possessing a bachelor’s degree in social science and master of business in administration, she is certified Level II in contracting through the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act. In the developmental assignment, Seaman provides her insights on contract execution and processes in helping guide the team in search of greater technological efficiencies.

“My background has helped me draft use cases, business cases, process maps and user interfaces. I have had the opportunity to brief the DASA (P) as well as senior leaders from across the Army and other agencies such as Defense Pricing and Contracting and Internal Revenue Service,” she said. “The developmental has provided a great deal of in-depth knowledge into a world I knew little about -- intelligent automation including bots, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc. I have also had the opportunity to attend additional training classes that I would not have known about if I was not selected for the developmental assignment.”

Seaman, who joined the MICC contracting office in April 2019, has gained experiences over the past 10 months with acquisition management applications in use by multiple organizations to speed the contracting process. She intends to share that newly gained knowledge with her teammates when she returns full time to MICC-Fort Riley at the end of this month.

“The AIT team has really opened my eyes to the art of the possible. Change is difficult, but as long as other professionals are open to new ideas I really think some of the skills I have learned while on this assignment will have a huge impact on my organization,” she said. “I want to leverage some of it and present it to our mission partners for us to implement locally. Everyone talks about how certain processes take too long and are too confusing. My goal is to connect local senior leaders with tools that will make the acquisition process easier for everyone.”

The contracting officer said it is important for leaders across the MICC to permit the time for members of their teams to take advantage of developmental assignments and encourages her peers to seek out similar opportunities.

“One of the best things a leader can do is support the career goals of their employees. Failure to do so will have a lasting negative impact on the employee and their outlook on both their leadership and organization as a whole,” Seaman said. “This opportunity has been the most rewarding experience of my career to date. As a contracting officer from a small Army contracting office in Kansas, I have had the opportunity to work on projects that would impact all contracting professionals across the Army contracting enterprise. That is not something I get to do in my every day job and well, it’s pretty cool.”

Craig Stiller, a procurement analyst with office of the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for procurement at the Pentagon, outlined the AIT developmental assignment’s key takeaways.

“Continuously challenge your own thought processes and assumptions through Socratic methods and diversity of thought, understand how you support and impact the enterprise, and lastly, be willing, responsive and adaptive in the face of inevitable change (due to) policy, process or technological,” Stiller said. “What you do matters.”

Officials from DASA (P) sought up to five members across the acquisition workforce to make up its Acquisition Innovation through Technology team to expand intelligent automation capabilities in support of the Army contracting enterprise. The developmental assignment offers team members the chance to strategically broaden their exposure to new and emerging technologies, and interact with the Defense industry. The remote assignment allowed participants the chance to enhance their technical and professional competencies by defining, designing, developing and delivering cutting edge technology solutions to assist the Army acquisition workforce while being exposed to Army strategic level decision-making and participate in regular senior- level DOD, Army, federal and industry engagements.

About the MICC

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-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.