Tia Belton is a contracting officer at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) where she supports the Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS), Undersea Systems Office. She's worked at NAVSEA for 3 years.
Tia arrived at NAVSEA on an external contracting rotation from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Belton states she “loved the work so much that I never left.” At NAVSEA she works on contracts related to the AN/SQQ-89 Surface Ship USW Combat System. The AN/SQQ-89 is an anti-submarine warfare system for surface warships. Additionally, Belton works with the research and development contracts utilized to increase the capabilities of these systems.
With the Department of Defense (DOD) reforming the way it spends, not having transparent rules and procedures about managing contracts or a federal contracting workforce that can effectively apply them could have negative impacts. In recent years, DOD has made an effort to improve the agencies’ management of its contracting officers.
Since a contracting officer is the only Department of the Navy (DON) personnel that can bind DON into a contract, Tia takes her job very seriously. “When I sign my name to a contract I know there may have been reviews at higher levels but ultimately it’s my signature and I’m liable for ensuring the information on the contract is right,” says Tia.
This responsibility can be formidable. “At first, I was very nervous about every piece of paper that crossed my desk but as I’ve learned the programs and developed relationships with the program office staff and legal counsel I have the tools I need to make informed decisions and am confident in my abilities,” says Tia.
The intricacies and complexities of a contract intrigues Tia. “I work with the program office and industry partners every day. With these major weapon systems we’re not just negotiating labor rates. We’re also dealing with production and hardware, and no two systems are alike,” she says.
When asked what advice she would give a potential Navy employee, Tia responded “there’s a new challenge every day. Embrace it. That’s what keeps me here.”