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Contracting Hot Topic Focuses on Need for Change

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AUSA
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Army’s current and former acquisition chiefs were the keynote speakers at an Association of the U.S. Army event focused on improving government contracting.

Bruce D. Jette, the current assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, said his objective is “to try to get things done faster and better.” Doing that means, in part, having “a more coherent relationship between the Army side and the industry side.”

Based on his previous private-sector experience, Jette said it would help to have more clear methodology in contracts so everyone involved can understand the process, and it would also help to make certain contracts provide incentives for finishing on time when time is an important factor to the Army while also rewarding companies that are taking risks. “I don’t mind if you make a profit,” Jette told the audience at the event, which was hosted by AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare. “I think you should make a profit,” he said at the event, held in AUSA’s General Gordon R. Sullivan Conference and Event Center in Arlington, Va.

Heidi Shyu, Jette’s predecessor who spent five years as the Army’s top acquisition official, wished Jette well in his efforts but warned of obstacles. She highlighted difficulty filling openings on contracting staff, commands with different practices for issuing contracts, a lack of senior mentors to help younger acquisition workers on complex contracts and long legal reviews in a process she said was “very, very risk-adverse.”

She sensed the contracting staff often felt overworked, unloved and burned out, something requiring a culture change in addition to streamlining contracting rules.

The Army Contracts event was AUSA’s fourth Hot Topic meeting of the year. Click here to see future events:https://www.ausa.org/meet