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2024 Defense Acquisition Workforce Writing Awards

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It is with great pride that we recognize the 2024 winners and their written accounts about how they used original ideas and innovative approaches to tackle challenges and implement acquisition flexibilities.  

Winning entries are as follows:  

Category: Innovation in Overcoming Obstacles  

  • “Holiday Subsistence Support Under Austere Conditions,” Lauren Austin, Customer Support Relations, Logistics, Defense Logistics Agency
  • “Data Analytics and the Government Purchase Card Program,” Khanh Do, Program Management, National Guard Bureau
  • “Rising from the Ashes: How to Quarterback an “Impossible” Acquisition Across the Goal Line,” Tracy Ruland, Contracting Officer, Contracting, Defense Logistics Agency
  • “Going Down the Rabbit Hole to Crush a Post-Award Yellow Brick Roadblock,” Courtney Severino, Contracting Officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command  
  • “From Complexity to Clarity: Developing Data-Driven Decision Making,” Major Sam Yoo, United States Army, Professor of Systems Engineering, United States Military Academy

Category: Innovation in Implementing Acquisition Flexibilities 

  • “Machine Learning Operations at the ‘Tip of the Spear,’” Brandi Evans, Program Management, Special Operations Command

Read the winning papers in the Defense Acquisition magazine.

DAU is hosting an award ceremony Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at 1:30 p.m. ET, at Defense Acquisition University’s Fort Belvoir campus. Join to hear more about their innovative approaches and to show your support for acquisition professionals actively striving to improve the acquisition system.  

Click here to view event details and to RSVP. A remote viewing option is also available by clicking the link to RSVP. 

The Defense Acquisition Workforce Writing Awards, established in 2023, encourage curiosity and persistence in overcoming obstacles and promote innovation in defense acquisition. Participants can compete in two categories:



(up to five awards annually at $5,000 for each award recipient) 

Papers should document a firsthand account of the member using independent judgment and an original or engaging idea to overcome an obstacle faced while working within the defense acquisition system. The paper should indicate critical thinking and include diverse perspectives.



(one award annually at $5,000 for the award recipient)

Papers should document approaches to program management that emphasize innovation and local adaptation. These would include the use of simplified acquisition procedures, inherent flexibilities within the Federal Acquisition Regulation, commercial contracting approaches, public-private partnership agreements and practices, cost sharing arrangements, innovative contractor incentive practices, and other innovative implementations of acquisition flexibilities and authorities.


Five award recipients may be selected in the Innovation in Overcoming Obstacles category and one recipient in the Innovation and Implementing Acquisition Flexibilities category. Recipients will receive a $5,000 cash prize. 


All military and civilian members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce are eligible to compete for the 2024 Defense Acquisition Workforce Writing Awards. Contractors and DAU employees are not eligible for this award. 


The submission window has closed. Winners will be announced April 30, 2024. 


Q: The "Call for Papers" memorandum states that the writing awards are open to military and civilian members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce--does this infer that anyone submitting the papers must be in coded acquisition positions? A: Yes. The statutory language § 1743 specifies that the awards are to recognize members of the acquisition workforce. Per policy, the Defense Acquisition Workforce is defined as people on acquisition coded positions. As such, the names of those submitting papers will be checked against the acquisition workforce database. 

Q: Are military members eligible for the cash award?               
A: Yes, military members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce in acquisition coded positions are eligible for the $5,000 cash award. 10 USC 1743 requires the President of DAU to set up a program to issue cash awards up to $5,000 to members of the acquisition workforce, which are defined as people on acquisition coded positions.

Q: Can I submit multiple entries per category?               
A: No, you may only submit one entry per category.

Q: Can I win in both categories? 
A: No. A member of the Acquisition Workforce may receive one award each year.

Q: Does the word count include references?              
A: No. References are not included in the overall word count.

Q: Must the firsthand account in 'Innovation in Overcoming Obstacles' take place within a certain timeframe?             
A: No. The firsthand account could have taken place at any time.

Q: Are co-authors allowed?          
A: No. One author per entry.

Q:  Should my submission follow a certain style?

A: Submissions should comply with plain writing guidelines (as defined in section 3 of the Plain Writing Act of 2010.) For overall style and format, Associated Press (AP) Style is preferred.

Q: Can I certify myself on the DD Form 1910 Public release?          
A: No. Certification must be from an official who has the authority to release your submission with the understanding that the submission may be posted online or published in an acquisition magazine. The official is certifying the command agrees with the release and there are no sensitivities like source selection concerns or classification issues.

Q: Will the essays be judged blindly?       
A: Yes. This will ensure there is no bias during the judging process.



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Submissions for the inaugural Defense Acquisition Workforce Writing Awards are open! Established to encourage persistence in overcoming obstacles and innovation in defense acquisition, learn more at scan.dau.edu/wFuL4MIWD?fc=0

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The Defense Acquisition Workforce Writing Awards are open for your submissions! Focused on two award categories, Innovations in Overcoming Obstacles and in Implementing Acquisition Flexibilities, don’t miss your chance to win a $5,000 cash prize. Learn more about submission requirements at scan.dau.edu/wFuL4MIWD?fc=0

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Submissions for the Defense Acquisition Workforce Writing Awards are open! Award Categories include:

Innovations in Overcoming Obstacles, Innovations in Implementing Acquisition Flexibilities                             
Prize: $5,000                              
Deadline: Feb. 1, 2024 

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