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News | June 7, 2017

My DCMA: Lt. Col. James “Luther” Vandross, DCMA Wichita commander

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

WICHITA, Kan., June 7, 2017 — My DCMA showcases the Defense Contract Management Agency’s experienced and diverse workforce and highlights what being a part of the national defense team means to them. Today we meet Air Force Lt. Col. James “Luther” Vandross.

My name is Air Force Lt. Col. James “Luther” Vandross, and this is “My DCMA." I am the contract management office commander at DCMA Wichita.

I am responsible and accountable for leading the CMO team in the management and administration of assigned contracts from contract receipt to contract closeout in accordance with FAR Part 42 (Reference (e)), DFARS Subpart 242 (Reference (f)), DoD Regulations, and DCMA Instructions.

As the streamlined commander, it is also my job to ensure the team has what they needed to accomplish the organizational performance standards outlined by my chain of command. While doing these things, I ensure that DCMA Wichita maintains a positive, productive and professional environment, which we call P3E. Our CMO is a geographic office spanning all of Kansas and the southwestern portion of Missouri, to include Joplin. We also have three resident sites where several of our teammates reside.

I have been a part of the DCMA team for almost a year and a member of the Air Force for more than 26 years.

Why did I choose to serve my country? The original reason grew when I took Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps all four years of high school. The program taught me the importance of serving and defending the country, how to become a contributing citizen, and the benefits the military offered. The original reason remains. However, now that I have a family, I want to keep the country safe and ensure their freedom, so they are not looking at me wondering, “How and why did you let the country go in the wrong direction?” That keeps me going, and I am just glad to be here!

I like working at DCMA because we are the last line before the supplies and services are delivered to the warfighter while ensuring the taxpayer are getting what they paid for.

I am the independent eyes and ears for the Department of Defense because, for starters, each service cannot afford the resources to monitor the construction and delivery of their weapons systems. Secondly, if three services and the Defense Logistics Agency all have separate contracts with the same supplier, there would be four different sets of eyes on the contract potentially pulling them in different directions. DCMA is the funnel for our customers ensuring the suppliers are hearing one voice from DoD.

I provide actionable acquisition insight to the DoD by contributing to all phases of the acquisition life cycle. We provide pre-award support to customers on what should be in their contracts to increase the execution and administration post award. Once the contract is received, we again provide the customers advice on how to mod the contracts for enhanced administration.

We also provide major weapons system program managers with the status of production so they can make informed decisions and report accurately to their leadership and Congress. DCMA provides this information on Joint Primary Aircraft Training System and furnish the information on the CH-53K to another DCMA CMO to pass on to the program office. Finally, we ensure our customers contracts are closed out in a timely manner.

DCMA is important to America’s warfighters because we ensure the supplies and services they require are delivered on-time and meet the specifications spelled out in the contract. We also administer contracts for customers outside the DoD such as NASA and the Missile Defense Agency, so DCMA’s importance ensuring taxpayers are getting their monies worth is greatly expanded.

What is one thing I would tell someone who knew nothing of DCMA? I always start off saying “DCMA is the independent eyes and ears of DOD and its partners, delivering actionable acquisition insight from the factory floor to the front line … around the world”. If that is not registering, I then say, we are the tip of the “ensuring the warfighter gets the quality items they need and ensuring taxpayers get their monies worth” sword.