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News | May 15, 2023

Procurement technicians enhance warfighter support, embrace key role

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Central Region Public Affairs

Procurement technicians play an important role in the Defense Contract Management Agency’s mission.

Frank Butka, the Contracts director at DCMA Detroit, compared their role to a NASCAR pit crew.

“I compare what procurement technicians do every day to a NASCAR pit crew,” said Butka. “A NASCAR pit crew’s top priority is to get it right the first time while constantly making the right adjustments. Proper communication with the administrative contracting officers and contract administrators matter. PTs earn a victory lap when that happens.”

PT job duties

According to Butka, procurement technicians, or PTs as they are often called, are “primarily responsible for data entry tasks involving (Mechanization of Contract Administration Services) site input that affects acceptance, payments, metric reporting and auditability of transactions.”

At DCMA Detroit, Butka has three PTs on his team supporting four offices. The Detroit contract management office is the agency’s ground combat vehicle hub supporting eight acquisition category one programs with the Army as its largest customer. The CMO also supports a geographical mission of high volume of DLA sustainment contracts and hybrid “geo” missions in the Michigan lower peninsula, BAE York, Pennsylvania, and General Dynamic Land Systems in Lima, Ohio.

Butka said PTs must complete actions in a timely and coordinated manner while applying the rules of MOCAS. They serve in an important acquisition support function and most of them in the GS-1106 job series are GS-6 and GS-7 federal employees. PTs across the agency help assist in the ability to pay and manage more than 300,000 contracts globally. During fiscal year 2022, DCMA delivered over 440 million items worth approximately $96.2 billion to warfighters.

PTs touch a contract at every point in the lifecycle, including data integrity screening and contract review; addressing the backlog list; making DD Form 250 Material Inspection and Receiving Report corrections; reviewing DD Form 1797 Personal Property Counseling Checklists; and performing research on discrepancies and closeout errors. PTs also make corrections and updates in the system on the final delivery dates and contract line item numbers. Approximately 3,000 contracts and modification and delivery orders are put into MOCAS each week. PTs help the agency meet performance metrics and support audibility.

Critical part of the team

Shannon Gonzalez, a contracting supervisor at DCMA Detroit based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said PTs were an important part of her team.

“PTs are a critical asset and a lynch pin in the entire process,” said Gonzalez. “They perform a variety of functions. Without them performing trusted agent responsibilities and duties or researching, correcting, and processing data in MOCAS to ensure data integrity or interfacing with outside agencies — such as DFAS to support contract administration activities — then the DCMA wheel would fall off the wagon and warfighters wouldn’t get what they need when they need it.”

The job is a great entry-level position for individuals who recently graduated from college or those changing careers who would like to switch into the acquisition career field. PTs do not necessarily need an undergraduate degree, but it is beneficial for future career growth if the employee wants to become a contract administrator, industrial specialist or quality assurance specialist. Some PTs later switch to the agency’s Keystone program to help gain the necessary skill set to advance within the agency.

“PTs require fundamental contract administration and practical MOCAS knowledge,” said Butka. “Our PTs take advantage of on-the-job training with our contract administrators as part of their daily interactions. We encourage our PTs to job shadow a contract administrator to broaden their view of contract administration.”

Butka said DCMA Detroit’s leaders encourage PTs to apply and participate in various leadership development programs offered through their local Federal Executive Board or the DCMA Centralized Development Program.

“I do my best to make sure my contracting professionals, including PTs, have the training, knowledge, skills, abilities, resources, leadership, guidance and mentoring needed to assist them in reaching their professional goals,” said Gonzalez. “As a contracting first-line supervisor, my job is to support my team of professionals in doing what they do best, including administering the many facets of contracts, making modifications, working other transactions, monitoring delivery and task orders, and reviewing purchase orders, so that our warfighters are taken care of.”

PTs embrace their role within the agency

Teresa Wright, an Air Force veteran, is a PT on the contracts team at DCMA Detroit. She has worked at the agency for five years and previously worked as an administrative assistant for the quality assurance office at DCMA Boeing St. Louis.

Wright recently participated on a PT training team that developed a training plan to ensure future contract PTs had the required training, including Functional Information Resources Management, or FIRM, Special Access Codes and MOCAS Trusted Agent Certification, they needed expedited to accomplish their jobs.

“I like working at DCMA because it’s a part of the Department of Defense and has an impact on our military,” said Wright, who hopes to become a contract administrator. “I want to continue to get the job done above expectations. I encourage employees to seek the great opportunities available in DCMA such as the Emerging Leaders Program that they can take part in as well to grow to help make DCMA an even better organization than it already is.” 

Wright has accomplished a lot during her career at DCMA, including participating in the Emerging Leaders Program, from which she will graduate in July. She co-leads the 1106 Forum, which provides a monthly training venue to discuss a variety of topics geared toward PTs. Prior to joining the DCMA team, she served 10 years in the Air Force as a dental assistant and then five years working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Record Management Department in St. Louis, Missouri.

Courtney Mehl is a PT at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, location. Prior to this job, Mehl worked as a business manager officer at a long-term care facility. She joined the agency in January, and some of her career highlights include working with Wright and other PTs to learn the job. Like Wright, she would like to become a contract administrator and then later an administrative contracting officer. Mehl has learned during the last few months in detail how contracts are constructed.

“I joined the DCMA team because I felt that the agency offered a lot of opportunities for career growth,” said Mehl. “So far, what I like best about the agency is how supportive and encouraging everyone is on our team as well the other teams that we share an office with. It has helped me feel welcomed and a part of something bigger than myself. I can’t wait to get to know everyone better while learning my job more.”

Future of the PT workforce

The agency hopes to attract more people to become PTs by improving recruitment and leveraging various hiring flexibilities. DCMA headquarters has created a Procurement Technician Functional Working Group, which maintains initiatives to recruit, equip, train, develop, and strategically communicate to advise and inform PTs about a variety of available resources. Wright is a member of the group.

Butka said PTs around the agency help support warfighters, and he is grateful for their hard work to support the DCMA mission.

“The value of our PTs here at DCMA Detroit shows in their ability to work together intensely to reach a common mission,” he noted.