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Business wire (Jan. 17, 2006): DAU provides contracting expertise for Katrina and Rita relief efforts.

In August and September of 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita battered the Gulf Coast States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida with a fury and vengeance that has left parts of these states devastated quite possibly for many years to come. The two hurricanes, along with the flood that was caused by the levees failing in New Orleans, affected an area the size of Great Britain. It is the largest natural disaster, both in area affected and dollar cost, in the history of the United States. Shortly after the passing of these ravaging events, help and support poured in with nearly the force and determination of the storms themselves.

Five professors from DAU South saw the opportunity to assist in contracting for the disaster relief and volunteered their services. Contracting professors Timothy Hoff, Valerie Hunter, Craig Kaufman, Phyllis Roberts, and Tony White received word just before Thanksgiving that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had a pressing need in Baton Rouge, La., to replace several outgoing contracting specialists who were there from various other agencies but would soon finish their temporary tours of duty with FEMA. Working around existing commitments, a staggered deployment schedule was created that placed the DAU volunteers on the ground between Nov. 16, 2005, through Jan. 20, 2006.

Over 3,000 people have been brought in to staff the Joint Field Office, which is the hub of FEMA's recovery operations for all of Louisiana and parts of Texas and Mississippi. They are drawn from the Coast Guard, all the military departments, state representatives, customer call center specialists, planning, financial, and contracting personnel, and others. The DAU professors offered their expertise to assist with the tremendous contracting burden FEMA faced in the wake of thinly staffed personnel positions.

With a collective 137 years of combined teaching and contracting experience, the professors brought immediate operational and teaching value to the contracting team. They were involved with many facets of contracting including a high volume of purchase card transactions, carrying out formal and informal source selections, executing modifications to existing contracts, and writing contracts for new requirements. They were also able to act as contracting mentors to some of the recently hired contract specialists who were just getting their feet wet in their new professions by providing tools and advice on handling what would, in short order, become routine contracting issues.

Disasters are a fact of life, but no matter how vivid it all seems on television through the lens of the nightly news camera, absolutely nothing can compare to seeing it first hand. The five DAU professors made a very positive impact in the area and gained lasting real-world experience that can be brought back into the classrooms at DAU South.

For example, the concept of "Urgent and Compelling"--one we present in our entry-level contracting courses--definitely took on a new meaning in the disaster aftermath scenario, and not just for the obvious reasons. Because of the haste to place contracts at the onset of the disaster, statements of work in those instruments were at times loosely written and periods of performance not adequate. In one instance, a specialized communications network contract that had been put in place to enable voice and data transmission for the relief workers living aboard the cruise ships was about to abruptly end in early December. Quick reaction on the part of one of the DAU professors to better define the scope of work and lengthen the performance period prevented a disruption of this critically needed service.

Another issue was that "Urgent and Compelling" was at times being inappropriately applied to very routine work requests (like ordering office supplies) by customers who had simply failed to plan, making it difficult to set real priorities for truly urgently needed supplies and services. Being able to cite real-world situations in fundamental training courses like CON 120 will highlight to our newest members of the contracting workforce the importance of using prudent business judgment.

Contributed by Craig Kaufman and Tony White in collaboration with Timothy Hoff, Valerie Hunter, and Phyllis Roberts.
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Title Annotation:Spotlight on DAU Learning Resources
Publication:Defense AT & L
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:675
Previous Article:Business wire (Jan. 17, 2006): ESI contracting courses earn equivalency authorization from Defense Acquisition University.
Next Article:Air Force Personnel Center news release (Feb. 3, 2006): Air Force begins testing civilian self-service system.
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