Despite a climate of tighter scrutiny of defense spending, the expansion of the acquisition workforce will continue to be an ongoing goal, a top Army acquisition executive said March 22.

During a video teleconference, Heidi Shyu said that she wants the workforce to understand that she is emphasizing the need to grow the acquisition workforce in compliance with Department of Defense direction. Shyu is assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology ASA (ALT).

Shyu explained that Frank Kendall, acting under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, was very interested in "growing our acquisition workforce and making sure the acquisition workforce gets all the training to make sure they can execute the programs on cost, on schedule."


This growth in the acquisition workforce is not limited to contracting personnel.

"It's absolutely not just the contracting workforce," Shyu added. "It's a much broader category including the program managers, including system engineers, including the cost estimators."

When asked how to expand the workforce in the face of budget cuts, Shyu said that the areas facing efficiencies and reductions would be driven by those deemed as a low-priority.

She also explained that she supported selective cuts, as opposed to straight cuts across-the-board.

"What I think is the wrong thing to do is impose an arbitrary percentage from everybody because you're not selectively choosing what's most important and what's not. ASA (ALT) has leaned forward in terms of maintaining our workforce. I don't want us to bear the brunt of taking an arbitrary cut."

Also at the teleconference, attended primarily by personnel from the Program Executive Office for Ammunition, Shyu discussed the budget environment and possible sequestration planning. In U.S. law, sequestration is a procedure by which an automatic spending cut is triggered, in this case by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

"We're really doing absolutely nothing in terms of sequestration," Shyu said.

"Because I think everybody realizes how devastating that would be. So we're doing zero planning today on sequestration. We're hoping Congress will understand the impacts to us and not do that."

The sequestration cuts, as they are known, were triggered by a congressional committee's inability to agree on specific cuts last fall.

Those across-the-board cuts will be in addition to the $487 billion the administration has proposed in Department of Defense savings, unless Congress takes further action.

The budget situation is fluid, but Shyu said that today she was happy with where ASA (ALT) now stands.

"We are taking a look at where we are in terms of what we have to give up," she said, emphasizing that the situation could change in the future.

"It looks like the budget cuts we're facing are less than what we had to face last year. So today I'm pretty happy."


Shyu said she has discussed Army strategy with Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno, including what the Army's role will be if the military shifts its focus towards air/sea battle and the U.S. Pacific Command.

"Our portfolio hasn't really changed, so how do we need to change against a more capable adversary?"

Odierno feels that the systems the Army is modernizing, like the JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) and GCV (Ground Combat Vehicle) will be needed independent of which theater we are engaged in, she said.

"On the S&T (science and technology) side is where I want to make sure strategically if we're shifting, we're focused on the S&T to give us the leap-ahead technology.

"To me that's important, especially as we start to shift ... we have to focus on electronic warfare, focus on information operations, cyber-attacks.

"We have to focus on more ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) and air and missile defense."

In other conference highlights, Shyu said the Army needs to focus on:

Gaining efficiencies through better buying power

The importance for ASA (ALT) to understand the Program Executive Offices industrial base concerns of prime, second, third and fourth contract tiers.