1. How long have you worked with the U.S. Copyright Office, and what was your background before your current position?
In October 2017, I started working for the U.S. Copyright Office. Prior to this, I worked for the U.S. Peace Corps as a 1102 policy procurement analyst. I created guidelines while I was there for contracting officers across the U.S. Peace Corps. I began my public service in project management at GSA before joining the U.S. Peace Corps, and before that, I was a GSA contractor engaged in the same line of work. Prior to this, I worked at Deloitte, where I created the acquisition community of practice and section, as well as cost estimation and other IT tools. Prior to that, I worked for the U.S. Navy as an IT reporting specialist in the Director of Acquisition Career Management Office, where I was in charge of developing Department of Defense policy that was comparable to FAI. I began my career as an acquisition career manager there.
2. What are some of the major efforts you (and/or your team) are working on with the U.S. Copyright Office?
I'm currently in charge of leading digital program management, which involves testing digital products and overseeing online projects and programs, in addition to assisting the U.S. Copyright Office in adapting to FAI CSOD. I help my staff grow in digital PM and product management, agile and waterfall program management, and I'm the only PM section head at the U.S. Copyright Office. I've recently been working on a blog with GSA on digital.gov and developing a community of practice for digital project management. The main thing we're doing is modernizing the copyright system, getting rid of the legacy system, and giving it a hybrid agile-waterfall approach so that the copyright system appears uniform to the public.
3. Tell us about one of your biggest successes achieved by you/your team/agency.
The use of volunteers, formerly known as super-acquisition certification managers (S-ACM), in assisting the Small Agency Council Procurement Committee support its sizable member base in completing acquisition training and obtaining Federal Acquisition Certifications (FAC) would be my biggest accomplishment, in my opinion. I appreciate that we were able to assist many people in getting FACs. I continue to receive calls asking for advice, even though S-ACMs no longer exist. To me, that represents one of the greatest accomplishments. Additionally, I was an original subject matter expert for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and have worked on the GAO cost estimation assessment guide, schedules guide, technology readiness guide, and most recently the agile assessment guide.
4. What is the biggest challenge in your position supporting the acquisition workforce?
Increasing awareness of the importance of the PM world, how it interacts with the contracting and contracting officer's representative worlds, and helping all three parties recognize their shared role as members of a team who are complementary to one another. In the acquisition field, you're usually either a 1102 or a 343; not everyone has the background of both.
5. What skills do you think are most critical to successfully perform your job?
Being knowledgeable about policy and having an understanding of the rules and regulations governing federal acquisition. When working with contracting officers, it can be easy for PMs to stray from the path because they are unaware of the FAR and other regulations. Therefore, it's crucial to be aware of these guidelines as well as the standards established by your organization. I often advise a PM that they should review the FAR, and likewise, remind a contracting specialist that the systems development life cycle is a thing in project management, so it's essential to be well-versed in the FAR and other rules and regulations. Collaboration, which fosters a desire and willingness to work with various stakeholders and team members, is another necessary skill. Being open to working with different team members and subject matter experts is essential because I interact with everyone in my position.
6. What words of wisdom would you offer to your fellow acquisition workforce members?
Look into everything FAI has to offer, starting with FAI.gov. When people ask me for advice, I usually tell them to visit FAI.gov first. On FAI.gov, there is a wealth of information that is extremely helpful. Get on the FAI website and never stop learning. At this point, the U.S. Copyright Office has made “never stop learning”, practically a rule. If you're a CO, COR, or PM, there may be information on www.FAI.gov, that can be helpful to you even if you don't have a specific question. Read up on topics like the Buy American Act and the PM Toolkit, which can be useful resources for you or others that are typically not available on your agency's website. It can be beneficial to you even if you don't intend to become an acquisition career manager but are a part of the acquisition workforce. Many people have expressed interest in switching careers, so I invite them to check out the three certification pages on FAI.gov.