News | June 28, 2018

Special Programs cements mission, cultivates collaboration

By Patrick Tremblay DCMA Public Afairs

More than 100 Defense Contract Management Agency employees arrived here recently for a three-day workshop covering a variety of topics. Training events such as this happen fairly regularly at DCMA, but for this particular audience, the agency’s Special Programs Directorate, it was a rare opportunity to network and broaden their knowledge of the agency.

In many ways, Special Programs is a microcosm of DCMA. Hundreds of subject matter experts from an array of disciplines are assigned to three contract management offices and the agency headquarters at Fort Lee. They work closely with program offices and contractors to deliver equipment our armed forces require. The big difference is in visibility. Nobody talks much about Special Programs, because the directorate works under increased security protocols required by the acquisition programs for which they provide contract administration services.

“Many of our employees can’t even talk about projects they’re involved in with each other,” said Irene Johnson, Special Programs contracts director, “this can make teambuilding difficult, so having workshops like this is important to us.”

Functional specialists representing multiple disciplines attended the workshop, a group Johnson called “a cross section of the field”.

“This workshop is especially good for our new people,” said Johnson. “There are some nuances of Special Programs, and this is a good way to introduce them to instruction, policy and other things that are unique to our directorate.”

Jay Norris, Special Programs executive director, said in past years similar training events were held for specific functional areas. “This year I wanted to get our team together in a multi-functional workshop, so they could understand the amount of collaboration that’s necessary to do our work,” he said. “We also brought in some of our customers, including the Defense Contract Audit Agency, Army, Navy and Air Force, so we can all find ways to coordinate better.”

The workshop’s focus was split between general agency and Special Programs topics, which were presented to everyone, and breakout sessions with more functional-specific content.

A highlight of the event was a presentation by Marie Greening, DCMA deputy director, who discussed some very timely topics including the National Defense Authorization Act, staffing, the agency’s Business Capabilities Framework and recent changes to agency policies. Her overall advice, however, was to stay mission focused.

“Keep an eye on strategic initiatives, even in your personal life,” said Greening. “Things change every day, but we have to keep a focus on where we have to be next year, and the year after.”

Steven Buetow, Special Programs technical operations director, said collaboration was a central theme in feedback received following the workshop. “The workshop gave everyone a better appreciation of the value of the other functions and reinforced the need for cross-functional teaming and communication.”

Norris said he was pleased with the workshop, particularly the opportunity to build a stronger team. “I want people to get out of this how important teaming is to supporting the agency’s Business Capabilities Framework, and ultimately executing the agency’s mission,” he said, “It takes all of our functions to work together for success.”

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