Dreary days but a beautiful countryside made an interesting setting for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command commander's conference at the Morningside Inn in Frederick, Md. Nov. 18-19.
Instead of the usual video teleconference where each commander gives a five minute briefing of his or her subcommand, this conference allowed the commanders to interact face-to-face and focus on hot issues that affects the command.
"I've been here for six months. I've had time to visit the subcommands. I understand the way they do business and they understand how I do business. This conference will allow us to sync our ideas in a structured fashion. This conference was designed to tackle the hot issues by laying it all out on the table," said Maj. Gen. James Gilman, MRMC and Fort Detrick commander.
One of those hot issues was the contracting process.
Dr. Paul Michaels, Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Director U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, said that he would discuss the organization, structure, and complexity of the process.
He said, "It takes our contracting specialists years to learn the right way to do contracts without supervision. Right now, we have 165 specialists and need 195 however, by the end of the year we should have 225. We also have some other initiatives that I will discuss. It's great that we have the opportunity to interface with our customers."
"There are things headquarters needs to do, things our subcommands need to do and USAMRAA need to do in order to for the process to work," said Gilman.
Other topics discussed was the Decision Gate process, the civilian personnel hiring actions, compliance in human subjects research, acquisition changes, and medical materiel/equipment drawdown from theater.
Two of the participants were enthused that they were able to get a better understanding of some of the hot topics.
"It's great to see the science side and administration side together," said Lt. Col. Marie Cochran, MRMC logistics deputy chief of staff. "I'm learning how to better support the command. It helps to understand the issues we are facing. It's nice to hear the CG point out things during the presentations and tying it back to the balance scorecard."
"Since we are geographically dispersed, it's nice to meet the ones who we usually see on a VTC. We get to sit in on topics that we may not be a part of and now we have a better understanding, we get to cross over our functional areas," said Lt. Col. Yolanda Summons.