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NEWS | Aug. 22, 2018

Fowler receives Leadership in Contracting Award

By Cotton Puryear Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Becky Fowler, a contract specialist in the Virginia National Guard United States Property and Fiscal Office, received the Leadership in Contracting award from the Office of the Director of Acquisitions and Head of Contracting for the National Guard Bureau at the fourth annual Excellence in Contracting Awards Program ceremony July 12, 2018, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

“Becky Fowler’s selfless attitude, innovative approach, and ability to coalesce key stakeholders in the acquisition process was indispensable to the Acquisition Support Office as it provided first-class support to the Virginia National Guard in an extremely challenging environment,” wrote Lt. Col. Jeff Cree, deputy USPFO, in the award recommendation.

Cynthia S. Tolle, the director of acquisitions and head of contracting activities for NGB, served as a keynote speaker and presenter at the awards ceremony.

“It is my earnest desire to acknowledge the work you do every day and to publicly recognize the top performers who have singularly and collectively achieved some truly exceptional successes during the past fiscal year,” she said. “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have any progress, and progress moves us toward excellence.”

Cree explained that to truly appreciate Fowler’s efforts it’s important to understand her operating environment.

“At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017, the ASO was short-staffed with just the Senior Contract Specialist, Fowler and one brand new contract specialist in the office. When the SCS departed for another organization halfway through the year, Becky was faced with a tremendous end-of-year workload and minimal staffing to assist her. The organization was completely dependent on her ability to deliver in order to execute funds and attain critical goods and services to support readiness and training objectives. It was in this environment that Becky’s brilliance, resilience, and leadership became abundantly clear.”

Within weeks of being temp-promoted to the SCS, Fowler transformed the way in which the ASO interacted with its customers and the organization’s leadership, Cree explained. Her proactive approach of early and effective communication changed the culture surrounding acquisitions from one of consistent friction to one of collaborative execution, and she attained the trust and confidence of senior leaders through demonstrated competence, creative solutions, and sheer determination.

“Becky’s work ethic and commitment to the organization were incredible; however, equally important was her ability to innovate,” Cree said. “Becky quickly went to work re-engineering how the command approached acquisitions. Publishing the organization’s first ever acquisition strategy, Becky worked with leaders, customers, and program managers alike to create a commonly understood process that facilitated a shared understanding of requirements identification, timelines, and prioritization. Her utilization of a SharePoint application to facilitate requirements submission and to track acquisition progress allowed for a transparent and informative process. With this framework in place, Becky was able to make the entire enterprise more efficient facilitating her ability to complete all requirements despite being critically understaffed.”

An example of how the confluence of Fowler’s expertise, work ethic, and teamwork facilitated the accomplishment of challenging tasks was demonstrated in the successful execution of the Digital Automatic Terminal Information Service in support of the Blackstone Army Airfield, Cree said. This requirement was initially deemed low priority by the command and not actively in the acquisition planning process; however, at the beginning of the fourth quarter leadership determined that it had to get done during the FY. Fowler quickly assembled the stakeholders, established an acquisition plan, and navigated a high visibility and complex acquisition in a compressed timeline while simultaneously completing the remaining end-of-year actions.

“While serving as the only warranted contracting officer in the state working feverishly to complete required actions, Becky also kept an eye towards the future,” Cree said. “She developed innovative ways to attract new members to the contracting work force to include recruiting and executing command directed re-assignments of on-board personnel to serve at the GS-7/9/11 level. At a time when the command was struggling to attract contract specialists resulting in being short-staffed, Becky figured out a way to create opportunities for current employees while simultaneously filling needs. She then got to work training, mentoring, and inspiring those individuals resulting in a bright future for the team.”

Cree said that Fowler’s efforts were tremendous in the moment and lasting in nature.

“She tackled difficult problems through innovation, determination, and communication. Her efforts were well recognized by leadership and customers alike throughout the Virginia National Guard and deserve to be recognized at the national level,” he said.

This award is intended to honor an individual who has developed, motivated and inspired others through formal and informal initiatives.

According to the Excellence in Contracting Awards Program memorandum, the six categories below summarize the traits exemplified by the Leadership in Contracting Award:
(1) Mentorship and Dedication to Helping Others – The nominee provides mentoring, coaching, and seeks opportunities to help grow and improve others careers.
(2) Selfless Service – The nominee places the mission and consideration for others before his/her own wants and performs services and duties without expecting reward. (
3) Creative Thinking – the nominee is creative in his/her thinking and approach to problem solving. His/her efforts support the growth of the profession through the introduction of innovative ideas.
(4) Collaboration – The individual builds team with a spirit of community and cohesion, involves others in developing plans and goals, and recognizes contributions and gives others visibility and credit. The nominee develops extensive networks across organizations and routinely uses those networks for the benefit of the workforce.
(5) Contracting Experience – The nominee demonstrates expertise in navigating the complexities of contracting.
(6) Leadership Qualities – The nominee demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities through his/her willingness to lead on tough issues. The nominee excels in leadership on multi-disciplined teams.

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