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News | July 17, 2023

DCMA Detroit briefs Army employees during buyer’s boot camp

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Central Region Public Affairs

Army Maj. Jared Ryan ensures his fellow soldiers are taken care of on the battlefield.

Ryan, who serves as Defense Contract Management Agency Detroit’s Engineering and Manufacturing Group deputy director, briefs new employees at the Army Contracting Command at the Detroit Arsenal. Ryan, and his boss EMG Director Carlos Lago, typically address a predominantly civilian audience during ACC Detroit Arsenal’s quarterly six-week buyer’s boot camp. The organizational partnership was created in 2013.

Ryan said the partnership started when the previous contract management office’s senior leaders worked with Detroit Arsenal leaders to enhance communication. Most boot camp participants are in grades GS-7 to GS-11, and represent the 1102 contract specialist or 1105 purchasing agent job series. Occasionally, Soldiers participate the from military occupational specialty 51C: Army Acquisition, Logistics & Technology Contracting noncommissioned officer career field.

“It is a really good opportunity for us to meet and speak with one of our biggest partners,” said Ryan. “Since they are new hires, we have a range of experience from people who do not know the difference between the Defense Contract Management Agency and the Defense Contract Audit Agency to those who have worked for DCMA or worked with us as a civilian contractor.”

Briefing 101

The one-hour brief, which includes the agency’s mission video, provides the 30 to 40 participants with an overview of DCMA as well as in-depth information that discusses how agency personnel provide support during each contract phase throughout the contract lifecycle. Ryan and Lago discuss the agency’s scope of work, employees’ functional roles and responsibilities, and various DCMA resources in the eTools portal and on SharePoint.

Many participants lack experience with government contracting. Ryan and Lago often answer questions related to administrative contracting officer functions and how participants can tell whether DCMA is involved in administering a particular contract.

“Every now and then, we get an individual who has either worked with or worked for DCMA in the past,” said Ryan. “These people are always valuable, and not for the questions they ask, but because they are able to relate their experiences to reinforce the point we are trying to brief or tie our talking points into material that has been covered in the previous weeks to better help their peers understand our capabilities.”

Lago said he and Ryan appreciate the chance to brief the Army employees.

“The briefing is designed to introduce DCMA to the students and our partnership with ACC,” said Lago. “We try to keep topics high-level and explain resources, such as CMT Viewer, which gives them the ability to find the contract management team members and roles and responsibilities. That resource will be beneficial to them throughout their career. Angela Tangalos, the ACC buyer’s boot camp lead, has always been very positive and appreciative of us making the effort to come in person and speak with her class.”

Supporting the DOD mission

Lago and Ryan said they are both ambassadors for the agency who explain how DCMA works with various buying commands to support the Department of Defense mission. The pair are now briefing the groups in person again. During the pandemic, they briefed each group online.

“With the COVID pandemic ending, and the removal of some of the restrictions that were put in place, it is nice to meet everyone in person and be the ‘face’ of DCMA,” said Lago. “We ask participants to reach back once they start their job if they ever have questions. Helping them navigate government contracting benefits ACC, DCMA, the program management office, and ultimately, the warfighter.”

Ryan said the knowledge he gained at DCMA Detroit helped him become a better Army program manager. Ryan was an engineering officer for 10 years before he transitioned to the acquisition career field in January 2020, a couple of months before the pandemic started. Since September 2022, he has been a program integrator for the Abrams System Enhancement Package Version 4 program. As part of the Abrams program support team, he works with both the PMO and ACC to facilitate the execution of the contract and address any risks, issues, or opportunities that could impact the program.

“DCMA Detroit provides a unique opportunity as the hub for ground combat vehicles within DOD,” Ryan said. “We have two major program executive offices, the next generation combat vehicles cross functional team, major contractors such as General Dynamics and BAE Systems, and countless small businesses, that we work with. Anything an acquisition officer could be interested in can be found within the DCMA Detroit portfolio. It is an honor to be trusted by my leadership to act as the face of DCMA and interact with ACC, the PEOs, and other external organizations to promote our mission.”

In addition, Ryan said interacting with Army personnel and working at DCMA Detroit allows him to observe numerous weapon system programs throughout the acquisition lifecycle. DCMA Detroit personnel manage almost 4,000 contracts totaling over $44 billion. The CMO supports buying commands across the Army, Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency.

Besides the Abrams tank, DCMA Detroit’s acquisition and technical professionals provide oversight on other major programs including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Stryker, Mobile Protected Firepower, Paladin Integrated Management, Amphibious Combat Vehicle, and the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. The CMO also supports aviation programs such as the C-17 Globemaster III, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the KC-46 Pegasus.

Continuing communication

DCMA Detroit personnel brief customers regularly throughout a contract to ensure learning about the agency does not stop after the boot camp briefing.

“We focus on early acquisition engagements before each new major contract is awarded,” said Lago. “We start with the DCMA overview brief, and then tailor it to each specific program. It allows us to focus on any support already given such as request for proposal reviews or previous lessons learned briefs, while reminding both the PMO and ACC of additional capabilities we can provide should they request them.

“An additional benefit of these engagements is it allows us to start the dialogue on topics that will be relevant later, such as how DCMA will handle issues on non-performance and what level within the PMO or ACC they want these conversations happening. Using the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle as an example, in anticipation of ACC awarding multiple detailed design and prototype build and test contracts later this year, we conducted a DCMA 101 with the PMO and ACC. This engagement has already proved fruitful as numerous break out groups have met to ensure a smooth transition from procuring the contracts to administering them.”

The boot camp brief provides Army contracting professionals an opportunity to understand DCMA’s valuable role within the Defense Department’s warfighter support team.

“By partnering with ACC on their buyer’s boot camp, it starts fostering the relationship between our two organizations. It builds inherent trust when someone understands who we are as DCMA, our mission, and how to reach us for support,” said Ryan.