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By Tonya Johnson
DCMA Public Affairs
The Defense Contract Management Agency’s newest contract management office recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. DCMA Hampton, which is a part of the Eastern Region, was established Aug. 7, 2016, as a separate primary CMO. Prior to that, it was a tertiary office under DCMA Manassas.
DCMA Hampton’s staff of approximately 200 oversees 25,000 government contracts worth $62 billion at more than 1,300 contractors. The office's largest customer is the Navy, representing 61 percent of business. The CMO is responsible for a variety of contracts, including those related to weapon systems, components, repair parts, and the Navy’s Knifefish, which is a mine countermeasure unmanned undersea vehicle.
During the past year, DCMA Hampton has experienced other changes besides becoming a CMO. Navy Cmdr. Wade Rindy became the commander last September and Kellie Unsworth, who previously worked at DCMA headquarters, joined the team as the deputy director last October. She served in several capacities at headquarters, including the director of the Training Improvement Office.
“There were some growing pains as we transitioned from a tertiary to a CMO,” said Rindy. “There are some services, including legal, that we still use from DCMA Manassas. But we have made sure we have the right people here to do the job. Our leadership team has a common vision for the success of our CMO. We didn’t really have to improve how we do business — we just tweaked various processes to make them even better.”
Rindy said during the first six months of his command, he spoke with every team without the supervisor being present to get honest feedback about what employees did and did not like and solicit ideas for improvement.
“I took command of a group of outstanding professionals, and my job is to ensure they get the support and resources they need to succeed in our mission,” said Rindy.
Rindy and Unsworth have made a commitment to improving communication with employees and customers, including having an all hands meeting once a month and visiting other DCMA Hampton sites located across Virginia, including Charlottesville, Chantilly, Richmond and Blacksburg; and North Carolina, including sites in Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville. In addition, they hold regular meetings and maintain on-going communication with the buying commands.
“We make an effort to recognize our employees and visit them at all of our sites, not just in Hampton,” said Unsworth. “It’s also important to visit our various contractors so we understand what they do and build rapport with them. Our contractors are the ones making boots and parachutes for our warfighters. It’s neat to visit the factories to see what they do.”
Rindy said one of his challenges is keeping talented employees, who sometimes leave for shorter commutes and promotion potential with the military services in the Hampton Roads area.
“We encourage a work/life balance,” said Rindy. “We utilize telework as a recruiting and retention tool. Many of our employees telework at our sites, some up to three or four days a week, because their commute can be more than an hour each way. We want to make DCMA Hampton a great place for our best and brightest to come and work.”
Brittany Laughrun, a budget analyst in the mission support office, said the job flexibility is what drew her to the job.
“I enjoy the flexibility, especially teleworking,” said Laughrun. “We also have supportive leadership and colleagues here.”
Laughrun’s position is new to the CMO, and she said one of the challenges of being the budget analyst at the office is making sure the various budget requirements — including awards, overtime labor, mission travel, and supplies — are funded adequately and according to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement and Government Accounting Office regulation.
“I have relied heavily on Dean Hollembaek, who is the budget analyst for the Eastern Region,” said Laughrun. “My goal has been to provide quality customer service to the team. It’s really cool to see what DCMA Hampton is in charge of. It’s important to me because my husband is active-duty military, so these items can benefit him directly.”
Geraldine Ford, a management analyst who is in charge of employee in-processing and out-processing and training, said employees take their jobs seriously.
“We’re such a close knit family here, and I love it,” said Ford. “We understand the assistance we provide to warfighters. We have to inspect items and make sure they’re correct because our warfighters’ lives depend on it. We play a huge role in warfighters’ lives, and what we do makes a difference.”
Erin Babcock, an administrative contracting officer, used to work at DCMA Manassas and recently transferred to DCMA Hampton. She plans to use her experience at DCMA Manassas to help her colleagues in Hampton.
“I used to run a mentoring and training program for contract administrators and administrative contracting officers focused on contract closeout, and I would like to bring that program to DCMA Hampton,” said Babcock.
“I taught training once a month and produced my own training materials, to include teaching people what specific documentation they needed to close out a contract,” she added. “I still have people from DCMA Manassas contacting me with questions. My goal is to get new ACOs acclimated to their roles and responsibilities at DCMA.”
Another change employees will need to adjust to will happen soon, starting in January. Next year, CMO employees will move to Fort Eustis. The relocation should be complete by next June.
Rindy said as he evaluates his one-year tour of command and the one-year anniversary of the CMO, he is proud of the workforce.
“We have a phenomenal team at DCMA Hampton doing incredible work every day to support the warfighter,” he said.
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