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Marine Corps product support manager wins DOD award

By Monique Randolph, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command | April 11, 2018


A Marine Corps Systems Command employee received the 2017 Secretary of Defense Product Support Manager Award March 29, at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

Mark E. Smith, product support manager for Towed Artillery Systems, was recognized in the Major Weapon System/Other Weapon System Acquisition Category II and below category. Towed Artillery Systems—located at Picatinny Arsenal—is the program office within Program Executive Officer Land Systems responsible for the joint M777A2 Lightweight 155-mm Howitzer, M119A3 105-mm Howitzer, and the M111A1 Improved Position and Azimuth Determining System.

“I’m honored and humbled by the recognition,” Smith said. “I had a vision, but the people who really made it work were my staff with the support of the program manager, our two program executive officers, as well as Marine Corps, Army and Defense logistics commands. We had immense support for the product support strategy.”

As a product support manager, Smith is responsible for ensuring the Corps has a viable strategy for the sustainment of the M777A2. He is credited with implementing innovative contracting strategies—along with the PM TAS business manager and Army Contracting Command-New Jersey contracting officer—that resulted in $7 million in annual savings for the M777A2 program. The Hybrid Performance-Based Life Cycle Sustainment contract also delivered an operational availability rate exceeding 90 percent for the M777A2 for the Army and Marine Corps combined.

“One of the most important things is tracking the status of the weapon system and seeing what improvements you can make in the areas of availability, readiness and reliability of the system,” Smith said. “As PSMs, we’re charged to look at affordable readiness, so when developing strategies, we have to look for ways of improving readiness while at the same time reducing cost.”

Smith and his team consulted with industry partners and found that the potential for long-term contracts was a powerful incentive for companies, he said. Using an innovative award-term strategy that provides up to 10 years of support means the company can make longer-term investments—such as end-to-end supply chain management—that result in cost savings for the contractor and the government.

“Mark's 20 years of service in the Army prior to his now 15-plus years as a civilian have provided him with the well-rounded perspective, experience and leadership skills required for a PSM,” said Chris Hatch, deputy program manager for Towed Artillery Systems. “He approaches each challenge with the goal of developing solutions that put the warfighter first, and he is recognized as a subject matter expert in sustainment by his peers and leadership.”

The Office of the Secretary of Defense award recognizes PSMs as key leaders in providing the very best product support for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. The award furthers the Defense Acquisition Workforce vision of "creating a high quality, high-performing, agile DAW to achieve technological superiority and protect America's national security."

“We have a fantastic team here,” Smith said. “I’m being selected and honored with the award, but there are a lot of people who make this program a success. I’m grateful to the team for helping to make the M777A2 a successful support story.”