News: Field Keystone assists with E&A HQ policy development
Story by Jo Adail Stephenson
FORT LEE, Va. - Lauren Netherton recently accomplished her last check-the-block Keystone Intern Program requirement with a 4 1/2-week rotation in the Defense Contract Management Agency Engineering and Analysis Executive Directorate.
“It really helped me see the overall Engineering and Analysis role in what we do,” said Netherton, a Colorado State University electrical engineering graduate who works at the DCMA Lockheed Martin Denver office as a systems engineer intern. “At the plant level, we’re the worker bees. We’re going to contractor meetings, doing the nuts and bolts. Now I see the origin of why we do things and how policy is guided.”
Netherton assisted in the development of a draft instruction for the engineering disposition of requests for deviation, or RFD, which is something she will ultimately use as an engineer in the field.
While gaining insight into how E&A policy is developed, Netherton used her experience working with contractors and reviewing specifications to review and check this part of the RFD policy.
She put the RFD checklist and guidance together so it could be reviewed to make sure it’s workable. “They had already made a checklist,” Netherton said. “I had to become familiar with the quality policy they use for nonconforming material. It really is a joint quality and engineering effort.”
She then used real-life situations to test it. “I even contacted my CMO (contract management office), and they sent me some RFDs. I tried the checklist with actual examples to see if it was helpful and useful.”
Netherton continued, “I also get insight into other offices and how they do things or what doesn’t apply to them.” She believes the checklist will be especially beneficial to use with new contracts, new contractors who haven’t had many RFDs and at CMOs who don’t have an established process for handling RFDs.
Netherton also participated in the first planning meeting for the development of the Enterprise Integrated Surveillance Planning policy, which is one of E&A’s priorities for the coming year.
She worked on reviewing and testing the next version of the E&A SE surveillance log, which can be used for SE surveillance – planning surveillance, tracking events, and evaluating whether contractor SE processes are adequate and compliant.
Netherton used her knowledge of working on two different teams at her CMO to test the surveillance log. “I came onto a program in the middle of events and didn’t have any background. Because people were writing things down, keeping track and staying organized, I could research the past logs and catch up and learn from there. It gave me a good feel of what to expect, a gauge of what to look for and the common risks.”
Working in E&A also gave her new insight into “seeing the big picture.”
“Being here has really helped me see we’re basing guidance and policy on the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) and these are our core purposes,” Netherton said. “Sometimes our purpose gets lost when we’re down in the weeds. It’s good to get that agency-goal perspective. Now I see the intentions of the policies and how we’re implementing in the field what has been generated at the agency level.”
“The Keystone program is a critical part of the agency's future, and the sooner headquarters is able to introduce and socialize policy with engineers in the field, the more effectively we will perform as an agency,” said Nathan Scoggin, DCMA Director of Systems Engineering. “We are consistently impressed by the professionalism and intensity brought to headquarters by the Keystones on rotation.”
During her rotation, Netherton took the time to meet the E&A personnel she had interacted with through emails and phone calls. “It’s nice to see the people who are sending us the information. We see all these people’s names on memos, policy and tools. It’s actually helpful to put faces to names.”