By Justin Zaun
DCMA Garden City
Gregory Hughes, a Defense Contract Management Agency Garden City management analyst, and Karen Cerretani, a management analyst with DCMA’s Eastern Region, review procedures related to defense travel and government travel charge cards during a staff assistance visit hosted by the contract management office on Feb. 14, 2019. (DCMA photo by Justin Zaun)
Amy DeMatteo (left), management analyst with the Defense Contract Management Agency Eastern Region, Susan Li, Eastern Region Keystone hub manager, and Sharon Duciau, a management analyst with DCMA Garden City in New York, discuss training policies during a staff assistance visit between the region’s Mission Support Office staff and the contract management office’s employees. (DCMA photo by Justin Zaun)
Michael Leisten, Defense Contract Management Agency’s Eastern Region Mission Support Office chief, prepares to brief employees during the DCMA Garden City’s staff assistance visit in New York on Feb. 14, 2019. The visit allows the region’s leadership an opportunity to engage with the contract management offices’ employees to provide training. (DCMA photo by Justin Zaun)
The DCMA Garden City Mission Support Office hosted employees from the Eastern Regional Command’s MSO as part of a staff assistance visit, also known as a SAV, on Feb. 14. Following the day-long training and collaboration event, Eastern Region representatives Michael Leisten, Mission Support Office chief, and Amy DeMatteo, management analyst, discussed the purpose of these visits and how they can benefit agency employees.
What is a staff assistance visit?
Leisten: A SAV is the region’s opportunity to engage with our contract management offices to provide training and orientation to employees and leadership. The Eastern Region MSO developed a strategic engagement plan that includes these types of visits as a primary tool for supporting the field.
Why are SAVs important?
Leisten: One of the most important aspects of conducting SAVs is that the region and CMO staff establish relationships that are conducive to open communication and exchange. The SAVs also allow the region to share some of the latest information and training in a working environment where CMO employees are more apt to ask questions and challenge the process. While the region staff uses a variety of methods to communicate with CMOs, there is no replacement for face-to-face engagement with our field personnel.
DeMatteo: SAVs are important because it’s an opportunity to meet employees in person. During one of our SAVs, a CMO deputy gave a speech about building relationships. That speech truly resonated with me. As I listened, I thought about all the relationships I have built during my career. These relationships help me every day as I perform my duties and support the Eastern Region.
What do you hope employees gain from a SAV?
Leisten: The hope is that this hands-on training and orientation provides the necessary skills to close any competency gaps that may exist and promote teamwork amongst region and CMO employees. Additionally, we’ve found that employees outside of the MSO are not aware of the important tasks performed that enable all employees to meet their mission. This is a reason we’ve encouraged leadership and any other interested employees to join us during the SAV. They are able to gain a more thorough perspective of all the enabling capabilities the MSO staff provides.
DeMatteo: We hope employees gain additional knowledge to improve their processes and effectiveness, which help them progress in their career. The intent of our staff assistance visits is to provide training and share knowledge, and we have found knowledge sharing goes both ways. We have been lucky enough to learn a great deal from the incredible MSO staff at the numerous CMOs we’ve visited.
What advice would you give employees who may be preparing for a SAV?
Leisten: This is not an audit. We do not look to identify process flaws or record requirements for corrective action. We share expertise and ideas for successful execution of MSO requirements.
DeMatteo: First and foremost, we would highly recommend the training coordinators and supervisors of Keystone employees participate and attend the SAV. We have found that after our discussions everyone has a better understanding of the processes. Communication is the key.
What surprises or interests you the most when traveling to different contract management offices?
Leisten: I’m most surprised by how much appreciation we get from the employees. At the end of a SAV, many people will tell us how glad they are we came and the value of having the ear of their functional counterpart. It’s been so successful that we have had requests from employees to return for more one-on-one training. When I get these requests, I know the region staff has made an impression and their support is valued.
DeMatteo: I am always pleasantly surprised at how much we are all the same. We tend to hear the same concerns at different locations.
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