DOD Recognizes Acquisition Reformers

February 05, 2019

Key players in the Defense Department’s commitment to reform its acquisition practices got the spotlight at the Pentagon today at the Defense Acquisition Workforce Awards ceremony.

Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and Army Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi, director of force structure, resources and assessment, J-8, on the Joint Staff presented the awards.

Before the ceremony, Aissa Tovar, special assistant to Lord for human capital initiatives, spoke about DOD acquisition reform and provided three examples of individuals who epitomize it.

Flexibility in Contracting

One recent acquisition reform, “flexibility in contracting,” is particularly notable, Tovar said.

Program management and contracting personnel can demonstrate “innovation and local adaptation” by using the flexibilities and authorities granted by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, she said.

David Rohlinger, a past acquisition awardee, led his Air Force team to reduce acquisition cycle times for competitive task/delivery orders. Because the FAR and its supplements do not contain more specific guidance or information on how contracting officers can use their “broad discretion,” many teams spend valuable time, money and resources using formal FAR 15.3 source selection procedures because of the detailed regulation, training and sample documentation available.

As a result, Tovar noted, acquisition times were often extended 12 months or more.

Rohlinger’s team created a comprehensive process map and an associated 40-page “Guiding Principle” document. The document provides a quick-look comparison of formal source selection procedures against competitive ordering procedures, outlines streamlining methodologies, lists key considerations when selecting and using strategies and incorporates 11 tailorable templates.

Implementation of the document saved acquisitions an average of 84 days, 48 percent, and $5.8 million in acquisition costs, she said. With more than 1,700 new competitive orders per year, streamlining opportunities could help save the Air Force much as $36 million in acquisition costs per year.

Tovar provided two other notable acquisition reformers who were among today’s awardees.

Information Technology

Air Force Maj. Giacomo Sauceda managed the overhaul of a volatile next-generation satellite command and control system design by revamping development contractor requirements discipline, driving critical design back into the system architecture, Tovar said. This effort cut a six-month cyber engineering process down by 50 percent, thus averting a $60-million schedule overrun and a nine month, $189-million launch delay, she added.

The major also led an effort to restructure a $67 million contractor cybersecurity engineering plan, which Tovar said “allowed for the rapid elimination of three top program risks and one critical enterprise risk.” As a result, she said, the Global Positioning System will continue to maintain its navigation mission for 2 billion users worldwide.


James Kettner delivered an initial cyber capability to soldiers in only 11 months, while saving more than $14 million in hardware, operations and support costs for the Army Cyber Command, Tovar said. Also, she said, Kettner engineered and delivered the Rapid Cyber Development Network and the Cyber-Tool Development Environment and Platform.

 “His leadership gave the Army a capability that radically improves operational responsiveness and relevancy in the cyber warfare domain,” Tovar said.

Individual Awardees

Here is a summary of the other awardees’ achievements as noted in their award citations, which resulted in cost savings, streamlined procedures and even in potentially saving lives:

Navy Cmdr. Jake Haff aligned U.S. Special Operations Command’s acquisition strategy with its operational needs and requirements. That strategy potentially provided “battlefield capability that prevented cataclysm and loss of life,” according to his citation.

Air Force Maj. Jenny Ji’s technical knowledge averted a one-year delay in the upgrade of a $60 million Biometrics Identification System, protecting more than 9,000 U.S. and coalition warfighters throughout Afghanistan.

Paul Lefevor found ways to save $51 million in contracting at the Defense Contract Audit Agency and streamline the process, per his citation.

Doneise Lamb improved acquisition processes, strengthening partnerships with industry and increasing the quality of support at the National Security Agency. Also, she focused her energy on training and developing the next generation of NSA acquisition professionals needed to assure the security of U.S. operations, data and information.

John Stedge’s leadership directly improved business procedures that supported a new nuclear weapon system acquisition valued at more than $83 billion. Also, his cost analysis and financial requirements generation, data-driven decision support, risk-based resource allocation, and innovative cost capability tradeoff analysis saved the Air Force $2 billion.

Air Force Lt. Col. Bennet Burton created a unique scheduling process that ensured the successful procurement of a $13 billion high-priority system. His approach saved $130 million and added up to nine years of operational capability to this high-priority system.

Robert Fox supported a $2.9 billion program for U.S. and foreign military sales. As a result of his leadership, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accelerated support to the warfighter while achieving cost savings and reduced procurement time.

Cassandra Simmons-Brown’s leadership resulted in the effective transformation and merger of the business operations, audit management and financial systems integration offices into one high-functioning directorate within the Army.

Billy McCain migrated more than 20,000 Army units from the legacy Standard Army Management Information Systems to the Global Combat Support System-Army, converting property valued at more than $356 billion; issued more than 1 million certificates of training; and fielded more than 21,000 hand-held terminals.

Christina Fontanos supervised review of production contract proposals on a complex missile program that saved the Navy $104 million.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Ellis expertly managed two National Reconnaissance Office programs that modernized NRO imagery processing on commercial cloud infrastructure.

Michael Hogan led a team that launched the Operationally Responsive Space 5 Sensor Satellite for the Air Force to meet an urgent need in space situational awareness within challenging cost constraints in an unprecedented three years.  

Air Force 1st Lt. Christian Todd provided critical leadership for an engineering contract, in which he overhauled 481 obsolete requirements related to national security in the space domain.

Anthony Aldrich, achieved a 139 percent increase in small business awards for Socom. Also, his leadership established new customer alliances and developed vendors that will drive Special Forces toward their next generation solutions.

Daniel Ensminger routinely challenged institutional norms to create an abbreviated test strategy as the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile Program Test and Evaluation Working Integrated Product team lead for the Navy. His work resulted in cost savings of more than $500 million.

Flexibility in Contracting Award Winner

The Air Force Materiel Command Federal Acquisition Regulation 16.5 High Performance Team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, provided strategy advice to the $985 million C-17 simulator program, shaving 75 days off the acquisition and $66 million off the predecessor contract. They also saved about $7 million in information technology and acquisition costs.

Workforce Development Innovation Winner (Large Organization)

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, North Charleston, South Carolina, launched the Cyber Education and Certification Readiness Facility. The creation of this training facility bolstered success in the cyber space domain and yielded a cost savings of more than $2 million.

Workforce Development Innovation Winner (Small Organization)

Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, established a research cell, hosting a multinational test pilot conference and training personnel from other federal agencies and partnering countries. “Through their leadership, they refined the optimal mix of classroom, simulation lab, in-flight instruction, and active feedback, critical to the successful execution of complex developmental test programs supporting the delivery of enhanced capabilities to warfighters,” the citation reads.