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By Thomas Perry
DCMA Public Affairs
My DCMA is an opportunity to hear directly from the Defense Contract Management Agency’s experienced and diverse workforce about what being a part of the national defense team means to them.
Featured in this edition is Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Cissell, DCMA Lockheed Martin Fort Worth administrative contracting officer and acting executive officer. Cissell is a Joiner, Arkansas, native.
When did you join the military and what made you decide to serve your country?
I enlisted in the Air Force in 2009, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 2015 and have been assigned to DCMA since December 2015. The biggest ‘perk’ for me to join was the GI Bill, along with a number of other things.
I didn’t initially join to serve something bigger than myself, but I did realize my passion to serve the nation and service not long after graduating technical school and arriving at my first duty station. It was like a light switch turning on. Serving is definitely a passion of mine, and enlisting in the military was the second best decision I’ve made in my life, behind asking Jennifer to be my wife.
The opportunities that would be available to a young man from a small town of 500 in the Arkansas Delta by joining the military enticed me the most to join. Again, education was probably the biggest factor in my decision.
How did you start working at DCMA?
I’ve asked that a few times myself. The assignment was offered to me before I left for Officer Training School, which I accepted, but it’s rare for second lieutenants to be located in DCMA for his or her first assignment.
I’ve been told that at the time I was selected for commission, the previous agency director, Lt. Gen. Masiello, had implemented an initiative for newly commissioned Air Force 64Ps (officer contracting personnel) who were prior-enlisted Air Force 6COX1’s (enlisted contracting personnel) to have their first assignment in DCMA. To my knowledge, myself and another 64P second lieutenant, who commissioned around the same time I did were part of the initiative. He is assigned to DCMA Denver.
Do you like working at for the agency? And if so, why?
We as an agency have a huge responsibility to provide our nation’s armed forces with a diverse range of quality products, on time and at the cost agreed upon between the procuring office and the contractor. How do we do that? Through multi-functional surveillance teams within a contract management office, along with working with other CMO surveillance teams through delegations, working as one team.
I enjoy learning from experts in different professional backgrounds. I wanted to sharpen my skills and knowledge of contract administration and program execution for systems procurement and serving under DCMA has made me a better contracting officer and acquisition professional. Previous to coming to DCMA, I was a procurement contracting officer within the Air Force Sustainment Center, more specifically I procured spares and repairs of structural components for the B-1, B-2 and B-52 weapon systems.
Most of my contracts were delegated to various DCMA offices. I will admit, I had a small idea of what services DCMA performed in the administration of the contract. I only knew that: I signed the contract for the procurement or repair of a component, DCMA would inspect the workmanship, DCMA would pay the invoice, and DCMA would close out the contract. My worldview has been broadened with this assignment.
What motivates you within your daily warfighter support mission?
A number of things. One, the men and women I work beside every day. My coworkers come to work ready to deliver the mission of our agency. I’m proud to serve with this team. Two, the members of the armed forces. Regardless of role within the Department of Defense and respective services, we must remember to hone our warrior ethos, and with that, we are one gigantic team moving toward our nation’s objectives. Three, my family. Without the support and encouragement of my wife and extended family, I wouldn’t have near the motivation I have to put on the uniform each day.
What are the major challenges of your job?
The F-35 joint strike fighter program is among the most complex acquisition programs within DoD. Each day is a new challenge that brings tactical, operational and strategic problem sets. On this program, I’m not sure what each day will bring.
What is something you do within the execution of your daily tasks that might surprise someone unfamiliar with the DoD contracting world?
With the F-35 being in a concurrent state — meaning development, production and sustainment are happening at the same time — the importance of being knowledgeable in acquisitions is paramount. Performing routine contract administration functions such as contract receipt and review, tracking cancelling funds, or processing invoices is important. But, the more complex situations that arise are the challenge.
I may have a software discrepancy arise in which I’ll find myself learning more about software coding practices and intellectual property. Or perhaps, we face a dispute on manufacturing processes which results in me researching the regulations and guidance within Aerospace Standards or International Standards. Of course, I have a great team filled with professionals who are more familiar with this type of guidance, while I may be more relied upon for Federal Acquisition Regulation and its supplements’ guidance and interpretation. I find it important to know what we are buying, not just from the contracting standpoint, but from a holistic position. The short answer is again, I never know what the day is going to bring.
What are your future aspirations?
For my DCMA assignment, I want to leave a positive legacy for my position and team. Mainly, to leave a positive impact on the people and our mission. I will be leaving the agency in June for Naval Postgraduate School in California. From there, I will more than likely return to an acquisition position within the Air Force in December 2019.
I will be showing up with my "toolbox" filled with my previous experience, what I’ve learned from my DCMA experience and education from school, ready to work with my new teammates and drive toward our objectives on whatever program I find myself on.
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