NCMA’s Government Contract Management Symposium (GCMS) is an annual training event held in the Washington, DC, metro area, providing training for contracting professionals in both government and industry.

We recently spoke with this year’s GCMS host, Maj. Gen. Cameron G. Holt (USAF), to discuss what to expect next month at the 2019 GCMS.

Contract Management

What caused you to say “yes” to be this year’s host for NCMA’s 2019 GCMS?

Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt 

Three reasons: 

  • First and foremost, I love our contracting community. I always have, yet in many ways we have undervalued our own knowledge and the direct positive impact we can have on the various missions we enable. 
  • Second, the National Defense Strategy has alerted us all that we have returned to era of “Great Power Competition” against very sophisticated adversaries operating against America and her allies across all the instruments of national power…not just military. The stakes could not be higher. 
  • Third, I would love to see NCMA successfully spark a new era of networking across the broader contracting community in ways that drive change and share exciting business innovations that allow us to “hack” the Cold War acquisition and contracting system we still must operate within to meet the gathering threats to our way of life.

CM 

This year’s GCMS theme is “Driving the Future of Acquisition—Focus on What Works.” What do you mean when you say we’ll be focusing “on what works”?

CH 

A lot of great work is already being done, like with AI and big data—that’s available now to accomplish the vital missions that must get done as rapidly as possible to serve our mission in an era of Great Power Competition. We need to think differently about everything—from workforce development to simplified and streamlined rulesets and measuring what matters, not simply for the sake of better contracting but to outperform America’s adversaries. For the Air Force, I call this “Mission-Focused Business Leadership.” NCMA can be the catalyst that drives government-industry cooperation and collaboration toward optimizing the value and outcomes that contracting drives into the mission.

 CM 

Those attending GCMS come from agencies across government as well as industry. How does your concept of “Mission-Focused Business Leadership” apply to them?

CH 

The military is extremely focused on mission, and I argue that’s more important in today’s threat environment than ever before. Agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, and others are also focused on the defense and well-being of our nation: “the mission.” 

Industry, of course, supports this mission through individual contracts, but also has an important role in developing and securing our supply chains and contributing to a robust industrial base that supports defense as well as our economic wellbeing. We all must recognize and respond to this threat using a “whole of government” approach—the lines of competition span all the instruments of national power (diplomacy, information, military and economics). The Air Force does not see American industry as the enemy; we see them as the “good guys”! …albeit with differing incentives and objectives. 

Mission-Focused Business Leadership intentionally drives more understanding and alignment between Air Force and industry needs and outcomes and it significantly lowers the barriers to entry into the defense market.

CM 

NCMA has invited Palmer Luckey, founder of Anduril Industries and creator of Oculus VR, as a keynote speaker at the 2019 GCMS. What do you expect him to bring to the conversation on “driving the future of acquisition”?

CH 

I’ve known Palmer for just a little while now, but we have become fast friends with a common purpose. He is someone who sees the big picture. He will help our audience understand the “why”—why this matters so much, and why this matters so much right now. He is uniquely able to see beyond the “group think” that our adversaries would love us all to buy into—that somehow America and the Department of Defense are “bad” and everyone one else in the world is “good.” 

Palmer has a unique background and a story of enormous professional courage to tell. After initially buying into the group think himself amongst friends and colleagues in Silicon Valley, he subsequently developed a firsthand understanding of our adversaries’ capabilities and motivations. He is urging all American companies, especially our most advanced and innovative in Silicon Valley, to help radically modernize our defense and information technologies, preserve our competitive advantage, and speed-up our acquisition processes. 

He is a patriot and an innovator whom I am pleased to partner with.

 CM 

Overall, what do you hope our GCMS audience will take away from the two days they’ll spend with you?

CH 

I hope they’ll think! We’re designing two days of challenging presentations and discussions to drive them to think about how they can contribute to the future of acquisition—and ultimately to the missions we all must achieve if we are to protect our nation and our children’s freedoms well into this and the next century. I want them to understand the “why” as protecting our way of life against those who wish to subjugate and silence. I want them to understand the “what” as redoubling our efforts to become experts in contracting and collaborate as partners in new, impactful ways for the sake of the missions we serve. Then, I want them to go back home with a new commitment to lead and show everyone around them the “how”—that is, how we will do things differently from that day forward. CM

For more information on this year’s GCMS, visit: www.ncmahq.org/gcms2019.