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News | Aug. 8, 2023

My DCMA: Steve Sanders, attorney

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Central Region Public Affairs

My DCMA showcases the Defense Contract Management Agency’s experienced and diverse workforce and highlights what being a part of the national defense team means to them. Today, Steve Sanders shares his story.

My name is Steve Sanders, and this is “My DCMA.” I am an attorney at DCMA Lockheed Martin Fort Worth. My agency-wide job duties include everything from investigating, reviewing, opining, and assisting in resolving domestic preference issues to providing legal opinions on contracting officer’s final decisions. I also represent the government in contract administration issues involving the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II programs.

I have been with the DCMA team for 26 years. I joined DCMA when it was under Defense Logistics Agency.

Some of the great things about working at my location include the people. I’ve never worked with a more dedicated professional group of men and women. They truly care about our country and our warfighters. I also enjoy being around the aircraft. I have seen almost every aircraft in America’s arsenal flying around this facility, including the A-10 Thunderbolt II, C-130 Hercules, C-5 Galaxy, B-52 Stratofortress, F-22 Raptor and F/A-18 Hornet. Twenty years ago, I watched an F-35 coming in for landing while an A-6 Intruder waited to take off.

I like working at DCMA because I am continuing to serve my country. I was in the Army for 10 years before joining the agency. Our mission is essential to guaranteeing freedom to the people of our great country. I love hearing the sound of freedom, which reminds me of a story. More than 20 years ago, I was sitting in my contract management office outside commander’s office waiting to speak with him. He was on the telephone answering a noise complaint. He told the caller, “Ma’am, do you know what that noise is? It’s the sound of freedom.” Listening to him talk to her reminded me that freedom takes sacrifice, and we have to remind others about our military’s mission and training obligations to our country and national security.

DCMA is important to America’s warfighters because we ensure contractors provide what they promised per contractual obligations. We make sure that throughout the manufacturing process, specific items are made under the conditions and tolerances that warfighters need on the battlefield. On the other hand, we also make sure that products that do not meet the standard never wind up on the battlefield.

There is a story I researched about a Union Army regiment from Massachusetts during the American Civil War that was preparing to enter battle at Antietam in 1862. The regiment had drawn ammunition from a supply train of goods manufactured by private contractors and sold to the Army. As the soldiers loaded their rifled muskets, they realized that the cartridges they were issued were not filled with gunpowder, but with sawdust mixed with oil. If DCMA had been around back then, this never would have happened.

DCMA has changed over the years. From the Defense Contract Management Command when it was a part of DLA, to today’s DCMA, the agency has evolved a great deal. We’ve grown and shrunk, but we have always met mission requirements. I believe implementing Vision 2026 is going to be one of the biggest challenges our agency has faced. With the shrinking defense dollars going to the Fourth Estate, we have to be efficient and proactive to keep ahead of mission demands.

My future career goals include retiring next year in June and going into publishing and recording full time. I don’t want to “fade away.” Instead, my goal is to help prepare the agency for my departure so DCMA Lockheed Martin Fort Worth does not miss a beat. I am already working with my leadership and colleagues to create a seamless transition when I retire.

My favorite hobbies include studying history, reading detective novels, writing and performing poetry, and swimming with my grandchildren. Something unique about me is that I am the unofficial “Pirate Poet Laureate of Texas.” Last year, I was the feature poet at a festival in Corpus Christi, Texas. I performed several original pirate-themed poems. At the end of the festival, the organizer called me back on stage and presented me with a certificate and a cutlass emblazoned with “Pirate Poet Laureate of Texas.” I couldn’t have been prouder if it had been presented from Capt. Jack Sparrow himself from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.