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Acquisition Workforce Spotlight: William Milline, Department of Veterans Affairs

William Milline

1. How long have you worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and what was your background before your current position?

I’ve been with the VA since 2016, starting off as an intern through their Warriors to Workforce program. Upon graduation from the program, I went to another program, VA’s Acquisition Internship Program. Later on, I went to VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC), and I was with them until June 2021. I briefly worked at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, and then I returned to the VA’s Strategic Acquisition Center in April 2022, and have been there ever since. Prior to my time as an 1102, I was previously in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years; on the opposite side of the spectrum, serving the 1st Tank Battalion as a M1A1 main battle tank, tank commander.

2. What are some of the major efforts you (and/or your team) are working on with VA?

We’re working on a major recompete for VA Telehealth Services. SAC is strategically organized to meet veteran’s health care needs and support VA Medical Centers nationwide. We primarily work on strategic sourcing, putting together major contracts for VA-wide usage, and my team is putting a new way forward for what VA Telehealth Services would look like. The Telehealth recompete portfolio is a $3 billion-dollar effort that has been in the works since 2020, and I have the great opportunity to close this out, from what started as an idea to where we are today. The VA right now is at the forefront of where healthcare is today. We are trying to pioneer this realm of virtual/remote healthcare services by leveraging technology, which will ensure no veteran, regardless of location, is left behind and that they can receive the best healthcare that’s out there.

3. Tell us about one of your biggest successes achieved by you, your team, or your agency.

This year, I won a government-wide National Contract Management Association award, the Elmer B. Staats Contracting Professional Excellence Award. It was a great honor. Overall, when you look behind the scenes, my team made it possible. Our program office told us that our acquisition team is the best they’ve ever had and one individual even stated that the customer experience we provide is the best she’s received in 35 years. It goes to show the type of team we’re on. The partnership we’ve established between our program office and contractors has been very successful, and we hope that we can be the epitome of what a customer-contractor relationship could be.

4. What is the biggest challenge in your position supporting your agency’s mission?

Increasing participation by actively working in partnership with the program office when it’s appropriate, to include our industry partners. At times, it seems like we are only facilitating a transaction to meet a requirement. But my mission really entails planning, developing, and executing together as an acquisition team. I try to keep our engagement lively, as our customer experience is my top priority. It builds trust and rapport. It furthers our agency mission and delivers good, sound care for our veterans. We are in this together, so we should do this together.

5. What skills do you think are most critical to successfully performing your job?

Having flexibility, advocacy, patience, effective communication, and information sharing. Having the right attitude and mindset will definitely set you up for success, your office, your mission, and ultimately, our veterans.

6. What words of wisdom would you offer to your fellow acquisition workforce members?

It’s okay to be a change agent, even when it seems like no one is paying attention. Even though you’re not making progress with your changes, they’ll eventually make a change and pay off. It all starts with the little things. Be innovative where you can be, because everyone has something to bring to the table, regardless of where you are in your career. There’s a bunch of tools for your success: the DHS Procurement Innovation Lab, the FAI Periodic Table of Acquisition Innovations, our massive network of professionals, and acquisition innovation through customer engagement. Don’t be afraid to utilize the resources you have at hand to master your profession. My last thought would be, learn through failure and succeed through effort.

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