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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 Navy Capt. Paul Filardi, DCMA Boeing St. Louis commanding officer. Filardi is a Sandy Hook, Connecticut, native.
When did you join the military and what made you decide to serve your country?
I’ve been in the Navy for 26 1/2 years — all in aviation. I signed the papers and joined the Navy the day I graduated from Clemson University back on May 10, 1991. I always had interest in flying. My dad worked for Sikorsky Aircraft just down the road from where I grew up in Connecticut, and we would visit the helicopter plant every year.
I looked into Navy aviation programs after my sophomore year in college and was accepted to Aviation Officer Candidate School my senior year. After earning my Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Clemson University. I officially signed up and started AOCS four months later in September 1991.
How did you start working at DCMA?
After 16 years in my career in the operational Navy and because I had previous acquisition experience as a U.S. Naval Test Pilot School graduate, I decided to permanently switch over to the acquisition career path. I became an aerospace engineering duty officer and, ultimately, part of the Acquisition Professional Corps.
One of my tours took me through Jacksonville, Florida, working at the government aircraft depot there called Fleet Readiness Center Southeast. After almost a three-year tour there, I requested an assignment at the DCMA facility in St. Augustine, Florida, to learn the DCMA side of the production and manufacturing business.
Do you like working at for the agency? And if so, why?
We play such a critical role here in DCMA as the government representatives, here in St. Louis right on the factory floor, ensuring the contractor is providing the products that meet the contract specifications and are what the warfighter asked for via the requirements process led through the buying commands.
What motivates you within your daily warfighter support mission?
I’m motivated by the troops out there, knowing they trust us to get the best warfighting products out to them so they can do their jobs. American companies make some incredibly advanced weapons systems and weapons, and these give us the tactical advantage in any situation — the way it has to be.
What are the major challenges of your job?
We have challenges everyday ensuring that lethal, capable and quality products make it out to the fleet when they need them. The business portfolio at DCMA Boeing St. Louis is growing every year with new F-18, F-15 and weapons contracts. Our agency workforce is so incredible with their skills in contracting, quality, engineering, manufacturing and mission support — and the details of contract administration requires acute attention to detail and constant vigilance as we work with our industry counterparts. We must ensure we arm our team with the proper resources — personnel, facilities, job tools and training — to accomplish the DCMA mission.
What is something you do within the execution of your daily tasks that might surprise someone unfamiliar with the Defense Department contracting world?
I still get to work in my warfare qualification area as a Naval Flight Officer, i.e. still getting to fly tactical aircraft after all these years. At DCMA Boeing St. Louis, we test, accept and deliver brand-new F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and F-15 Strike Eagles. Amazingly, I get to fly these aircraft as part of the job. It’s still quite a thrill even after flying for 26 years, and with over 2,600 hours in more than 30 different airframes, to be flying the latest and greatest equipment that industry and the DoD can make. It is so rewarding to deliver these aircraft right into the hands of the warfighter at their home bases, who then can put these weapons systems to their full use.
What are your future aspirations?
This job will take me to 29 years in the Navy so the next three years are my primary focus. Specifically, the success of this command delivering product to the fleet. After that, we will just have to see what roads open up, but certainly a career in the Navy has provided so much for me and my family.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Right before joining DCMA Boeing St. Louis in June 2017, I was stationed overseas in Japan with my family from 2014-2017. We greatly enjoyed our three years over there with our wonderful Japanese hosts. I was part of the forward deployed naval forces Japan with Carrier Strike Group Five on the USS Ronald Reagan. I had an amazing time, even considering it was an extremely busy tour, where I was deployed at sea 18 months of the 35 months there.
In the job, I was overseeing ship and aircraft maintenance and logistics, and we as a family had the opportunity for once-in-a-life-time travel. We made it to places like Guam, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, China, Taiwan and many places in Japan including Tokyo, Sapporo, Kyoto and Nagano. We even climbed Mt. Fuji. My daughters both were high schoolers during that period, and both graduated together from the DoD high school on base Yokosuka in June 2017. It was certainly the best tour of my career, both professionally and for the family experience.
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