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News | June 13, 2018

Army Servicing Team learns to read alphabet soup


CTR, NDT, GCQA, FSCAP, DC&A, CAR; they may look like nothing more than a jumble of letters to those outside the quality assurance career field. Yet being able to understand alphabet soup is a crucial step to hiring the best qualified applicants for technical contract management positions.

Through a recent job-shadowing site visit with the Army Servicing Team, Defense Contract Management Agency Phoenix is striving to make the interpretation a little easier.

Based in Fort Riley, Kansas, the AST provides essential staffing and placement services for DCMA to help secure and maintain a qualified labor force. But abbreviations and acronyms commonly used for certifications, tasks and equipment can be a challenge for the hiring managers.

“A lot of acronyms that are specifically related to one component can often go over our heads and require a Google search,” said Aimee Rollis, a recruitment and placement specialist with the AST.

The site visit, officially titled a knowledge transfer rapid improvement event, allowed DCMA Phoenix to provide a hands-on education and in-depth understanding of the quality assurance field.

After introductions and hiring process discussions at the DCMA office, the six visiting AST members traveled to several contractor facilities to see firsthand the work QAs inspect. The team was able to view processes such as soldering, plating, assembly and blueprint reading.

“Going to these facilities to discuss the work with managers, contractors and QA employees helps us connect acronyms with definitions,” said Rollis. “This is especially helpful when applicants abbreviate certifications or every-day tasks in their resumes where the use of acronyms has become second nature.”

Being able to see programs such as the AH-64E Apache Longbow, night vision systems and the T-55 engine assembly was significant for AST Human Resource Specialist David Groves. “I now have a better understanding of what many of the commodities associated with QA mean and what they look like,” he said. “I gained such a profound appreciation for QA positions and vowed to try and impress upon my coworkers how important the work of a QA is.”

Time spent away from their desks and out on the factory floor will result in time-saving efficiencies, according to DCMA Phoenix Management Assistant Marissa Krings. “None of us appreciate it when we are given vague requirements,” she said. “Being able to show and discuss requirements and walk AST members through what is expected of our QAs helped to more clearly articulate what is needed and will result in time savings due to increased insight into process terminology, hiring needs and strategic recruitment.”

Phoenix Quality Assurance Director Rory Fleming also sees the visit benefiting a larger goal for the agency.

“A true asset DCMA has for mission accomplishment is a talented labor force,” Fleming said. “I want to thank the AST for their attention to detail and expertise in helping us improve and achieve many aspects of DCMA’s Strategic Goal 3 — to create and maintain an agile learning organization and culture that strives to exceed customer expectations by hiring, training, developing and retraining a diverse, motivated and engaged workforce.”

DCMA and AST working together will help attract the best candidates for positions, according to Groves, who hopes to encourage increased communication with the agency as a whole. “We can’t put together a dependable job announcement without critical input from the selecting official,” Groves said. “The more knowledge AST has of DCMA’s agency requirements and specific regional requirements for a position, the better questions we can ask.”

For other DCMA offices that may be looking to improve their experiences with the AST, Phoenix has some helpful tips.

“Take a little more time across the board to review specialized experience and job opportunity announcement information when working with AST specialists,” said Krings. “Increased communication between the selecting official and the AST team member utilizing a strategic recruitment discussion helps ensure everyone is on the same page.”

Krings also recommends communicating terminology specifics and details on the work to be performed, as well as keeping the AST informed of hiring action changes as soon as possible.

For starters though, spelling out acronyms on first reference is always a good idea.