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News | April 3, 2024

My DCMA: Teresa Szawlowski, Keystone contract administrator

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 part of the national defense team means to them. Today, Teresa Szawlowski shares her story.

My name is Teresa Szawlowski, and this is “My DCMA.” I am a contract administrator at DCMA Chicago, and I am in the Keystone program. Some of my job duties include contract receipt and review, conducting post-award orientations with contractors, and completing contract closeout once a contract is deemed physically complete.

Being a contract administrator with DCMA requires me to wear multiple hats as I review and conduct activities associated with a contract once it has been awarded. I work with several different types of contracts, from supplies to services, to research and development contracts, and all of them have different requirements to be executed properly. For example, while a supply contract may seem like a simple task to execute, there are many intricacies that are involved.

One of the most important aspects of my job is to work as part of a cross-functional team. Each functional team member ensures that I can do my job of administering a contract smoothly and efficiently. When a branch orders a supply, quality works with me to let me know if the contractor is producing a functional piece of equipment. Industrial specialists help me by ensuring everything is done in a timely manner and on-schedule.

Procurement technicians are the unsung heroes of DCMA because they ensure a contract is properly loaded into our contracting system and all pertinent clauses and provisions are correctly added to a particular contract. All these parts create a whole system that allows me and my colleagues to ensure our warfighters get what they require, while simultaneously helping to build stronger partnerships between the federal government and business infrastructure.

I love working at DCMA Chicago because of the people. My team has been amazing in teaching me and leading me along the way to become the best possible contract administrator I can be. As someone who went from being a schoolteacher to now a contract administrator, there are a lot of different aspects for me to learn on the job. I previously taught special education within the K-12 grades.

I have been part of the DCMA team for five years. When I started with the agency, I came in as a procurement technician. That position allowed me to get my feet wet in the world of contracting. It gave me a better understanding of what it is to administer a contract and how our agency plays a pivotal role in ensuring our nation’s security. It also opened my eyes to a career field that I never dreamed I would be a part of.

I enjoy working at DCMA because we get to see the result of our nation’s manufacturing and small businesses’ hard work. DCMA has a hand in ensuring national security while also helping innovation and development within the various contractors we work with — both big and small.

I am excited to see what the future holds for DCMA as it has changed quite a bit since I started in 2019. I am hopeful that with the new DCMA Vision, our agency continues to grow and develop as an intricate part of the Department of Defense.

Professionally, I am working toward graduating from the Keystone program in August, and I am taking my contracting professional certification exam this spring. Since DCMA employees have guided me from being a procurement technician to now being a contract administrator, I also hope that one day I can be a mentor to others and help them develop their skills the way that I have developed mine.

My favorite hobbies include being an advocate for people with disabilities, attending concerts and watching movies. Something unique about me is that during Fiscal Year 2022, I was one of the recipients of the DOD Outstanding Employee/Service Member Annual Disability Award, which honors the accomplishments of civilian employees and service members with disabilities.