ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., Aug. 23, 2011 -- With praise for an Army acquisition workforce "on the front lines" of supporting Soldiers, the service's top acquisition official recently outlined key steps the Army is taking in its drive for efficiencies.

"We're facing fiscal realities," said Heidi Shyu, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, or ASA(ALT), during a town hall meeting Aug. 19 at Aberdeen Proving Ground. "We're all sharing the pain."

Shyu described ASA(ALT)'s progress on the Department of Defense-wide Better Buying Power initiative, saying "we have become a poster child" for successfully identifying opportunities for cost savings and cost avoidance.

"The message absolutely is getting through" to the contracting community, Shyu said. "We're going to bring a lot more competition into the system."

At the same time, open communication with industry can result in smoother processes and better targeted investments in current and future capabilities, she said.

"They want more open exchange of information for them to judiciously invest," Shyu said.

Austerity-driven budget drills and a recent optimization study issued by a joint ASA(ALT) and Army Materiel Command task force also stand out as proactive steps in a cost-cutting environment, she said. They also show the Army is carefully weighing potential cuts to ensure key priorities are protected, she said.

Despite the fiscal constraints, Shyu stressed the need to maintain the strength and quality of the acquisition workforce -- calling it one of the areas "we're trying to protect and grow."

Shyu also answered employees' questions on various topics, from her own professional background to streamlining the acquisition process to more quickly meet the needs of troops. The session with several hundred employees of the Program Executive Offices Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T, and Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, or PEO IEW & S, was part of a series of town hall visits with the ASA(ALT) workforce Shyu has made since taking over her position in June.

PEO C3T provides Soldiers with the computer systems, radios and communications networks they require to succeed in a full spectrum of operations. The organization develops, acquires and fields to all Army units a range of products including specialized software applications, generators, radios, computers, servers and communications systems; and integrates these and other systems together so they function seamlessly; while providing on-site training and support for these systems deployed worldwide.

The PEO IEW & S provides Soldiers with affordable, world-class sensor and electronic-warfare capabilities enabling rapid situational understanding and decisive action. PEO IEW & S products are used for targeting, situational awareness, force protection and reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, or RSTA. These critical systems are integrated into the network's layers and enable persistent surveillance, allowing the joint warfighter to control time, space and the environment, while greatly enhancing survivability and lethality.

"You guys are the core of ASA(ALT), who are on the front lines doing the real work," Shyu said. "This is incredibly useful to me."

Shyu is also conducting monthly program reviews with the 13 PEOs that make up ASA(ALT), as well as visits with troops. She recently met a Soldier injured in theater who had a prosthetic replacement for a fused right ankle.

"Next month, he's running a marathon," she said, adding that he will deploy again in November. "That's our Soldier. That's why we're here on a daily basis."