Telling the ATEC Story The People Behind Test & Evaluation: Margo Washington

By ATEC G 3-5May 12, 2022

Margo Washington is no stranger to hard work or overcoming numerous challenges. After graduating from high school, she studied accounting at her local community college. When she didn’t do as well as she had hoped, she decided accounting wasn’t for her and chose to focus instead on getting a job and starting her career.

She started working in 1988 as a supply clerk typist in the Receiving and Movement Division for the U.S. Army Garrison on Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. In 1991, she worked as a test and evaluation support clerk typist when the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) was still the U.S. Army Operational Test and Evaluation Command. In 1996, during the standup of the Evaluation Analysis Center, which is now the Army Evaluation Center, she was promoted to division secretary, and in 2001, she was promoted to directorate secretary.

While a secretary, one of her earliest supervisors encouraged her to think higher than the secretarial pool and recommended she consider taking budget classes. Her lack of success in accounting made her reluctant at first. Still, she was glad she overcame her doubts, or she wouldn’t have learned that government budgeting was vastly different from commercial accounting. Her early budget training paid off and earned her a position as a budget technician in 2004. But it would take several more years of additional on-the-job training and many more hours of budget classes before she was promoted to a budget analyst position in 2008.

Over the years and after many reorganizations, ATEC changed significantly from what it used to be, and Washington changed right along with it. Since 2013, Washington has been the budget analyst for the Aviation and Fires Evaluation Directorate and the Soldier Evaluation Directorate since 2015. She provides budget guidance and assistance to both directorates’ personnel to help them accomplish the mission of evaluating the weapon systems Soldiers use in the field.

Washington is proud of the progress she’s made, the achievements she’s earned, and her daily work to help keep Soldiers safe. If you asked her what’s the one thing she’s most proud of, she would tell you it’s being part of a team of budget professionals who achieve a successful year-end closeout each year. She admits it’s a huge feat to pull off: to clear and reconcile the fiscal year’s financial records by the midnight deadline on the last day of September. These records document and testify that ATEC’s organizational expenses were consistent with its budgeted amounts. She would also tell you it wouldn’t have been possible without the combined synergies of everyone on the team pulling together to get it done.

Although getting to where she is now hasn’t always been easy—it’s required a lot of late nights and time away from her family—she says she wouldn’t change a thing. Every hardship and obstacle she has overcome has helped her grow and become the person she is today—strong, capable and resilient. She says her mother has been her biggest influencer and the catalyst behind her drive and determination to succeed and excel throughout her life.

Washington grew up watching her mother struggle to provide food, shelter, a warm bed, and a safe living environment for four kids with the salary she earned driving a bus. She discovered a fierce determination to live a different and less difficult life than her mother’s. In the beginning, when it was just her, it was easy. When she became a mother and was left to raise her five children on her own after the sudden death of their father and her partner of 16 years, it proved much harder. She didn’t do it alone though—her mother’s presence was always there in spirit.

Today, her kids are all grown-up, and outside of the work she does for the Army, raising them to adulthood has been her most significant lifetime achievement. When Washington looks back over those years when she had to be both mom and dad, she wonders how she made it. But the one thing she knows is she couldn’t have done any of it without the strength of will she inherited from her amazing mother.

Though her kids are now self-sufficient and living their own lives, she says they still look to her and rely on her for guidance. She believes all of the challenges she has faced and the wisdom she has gained has put her in a much better position to advise them on living their best life. It’s what her mother would have wanted for her, and she’s humbled and eternally grateful she was always able to provide it for them.