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News | Dec. 7, 2016

Strength in numbers: acquisition professionals gather for interagency meeting

By Shawn J. Jones DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Local acquisition professionals from more than a dozen federal agencies, including Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, attended the Mid-Atlantic Acquisition Council Training Symposium in Philadelphia Nov. 30.

The council’s purpose is serve the federal acquisition community by facilitating professional development, showcasing best practices, recognizing excellence and enhancing acquisition skills and knowledge.

A panel of senior acquisition professionals offered the 185 attendees their insight on relevant current events, career management and value of interagency collaboration.

Representing Troop Support was Procurement Process Support Director Navy Capt. Gerald Raia, who said the council provides a useful forum where DLA employees can help their colleagues from other agencies while learning from them as well.

“There’s a lot of opportunity here,” he said. “I’m very excited to share and collaborate with the other agencies.”

As the lone uniformed service member on the panel, Raia said that many perceive acquisition as an administrative function, but he sees it as a strategic function with a significant impact on each agency’s primary mission.

“The job is so critically, vitally important to what we do,” Raia said. “Coming from four years in the Middle East, I recognize the power of those contracts.”

Raia also said that while it is important to keep working hard to award good contracts, it’s important to follow up to ensure the contracts are contributing to agencies’ missions.

“When we look at the post-award side, what did we actually accomplish?” he said. “Is the customer actually getting what they are paying for?
Another panelist, Soraya Correa, the Chief Procurement Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, provided career advice to the 185 acquisition professionals in attendance.

“Don’t wait for others to develop you. Work on developing yourself,” she said. “Reach out. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to do that, but also don’t be afraid to take a few risks.”

She also said that attitude matters and that being resilient when facing setbacks and disappointment will pay dividends over the course of a n acquisition professionals career.

“When you have a good attitude, it permeates the room. It impacts the staff and the people that work with you,” Correa said. “People want to work with somebody positive.

Several interagency awards were announced at the end of the symposium and Troop Support personnel earned two.

Maliza Maldonado, a contracting officer in the Industrial Hardware supply chain, received the individual award for Acquisition Excellence for her work with the Air Force Industrial Product-Support Vendor Program’s 18-month bridge contract, which provides bench-stock support to three Air Logistics Complexes.

"She devoted long hours and showed extreme dedication and focus, successfully soliciting, negotiating and awarding the contract, reducing the original proposed price by more than $1 million,” said Gary Shifton, director of supplier operations for the Industrial Hardware supply chain. “She is a role model for all acquisition specialists."

The group award for Acquisition Excellence went to the Subsistence National Contracts Team.

"The team implemented an innovative strategy streamlining the purchases of center-of-the-plate protein items for military customers outside the continental United States,” said team lead Janine Samoni, Chief of Strategic Materiel Sourcing Group Division. “The team has averaged significant cost savings of 25 percent by reducing duplication and leveraging the purchasing power of the government."