Profile: Straight shooter

Deidre Lee, Defense procurement guru, takes on 'Michael Jordan buying'

When it comes to navigating the somewhat esoteric world of federal contracting, Deidre Lee, director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy at the Defense Department, can empathize.

Lee started in the trenches as a DOD procurement officer, and having been on the receiving end of policy letters, she knows firsthand the reaction they can solicit.

"When I was in the field and I would get a policy letter from management, if I read it, I would laugh and ask if these people were crazy," she said. "They understood what they were doing, but I didn't."

Today, Lee tries to ensure the same thing doesn't happen now that she is the one issuing policy memos. She explains her reasoning to her employees, and even if they disagree, they understand why it was done.

On any given day, chances are Lee will not be in her office. She enjoys going out into the field to see what those in the procurement policy arena are doing.

"Much to a lot of peoples' chagrin, I just love to get out there," she said. "Hearing from the people who do this every day is the best way I can help improve policy."

Lee is known throughout DOD for her availability. She'll hand her card or e-mail address out to anyone who asks and will respond when presented with a problem or issue. She encourages employees and contracting officers to come to her with ideas, problems and issues — provided they also offer a solution.

When Lee first assumed a leadership role in defense procurement in 2000, she immediately saw some of the same problems that existed when she was a contracting officer 25 years earlier.

"The certification classes that contracting officers were taking were the exact same ones I had taken," she said. "To improve the way we do things, we really had to take a step back and look at the training, preparation and support we were giving to our contracting people."

Perhaps the biggest issue facing Lee today is Section 803, a policy developed in response to reports that many awards were being made based on only one bid. Congress set up procedures that, in effect, require DOD buyers to get three bids before placing orders for services under multiple-award contracts.

"[Section] 803 is very important because it helps advance the fundamental principle of competition, which gives us the opportunity to earn taxpayers' dollars," she said.

Lee wants to shift DOD away from what she describes as "Michael Jordan buying."

"If someone needs a basketball player and they want one specific person, they're going to solicit Michael Jordan, Dee Lee and you," she said. "The fact is that's not competition. [Section] 803 is helping to resolve this, and I'm disappointed in myself that we needed legislation to get this done."

Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, said Lee has almost single-handedly opened the dialogue between her office and Congress.

"It has really helped in that Congress now has a much better understanding of what her office does," he said. "That's a big plus for DOD. She is exceptionally well regarded around Washington and all of the federal government and does yeoman's work."

DEIDRE LEE FILE

Title: Director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy at the Defense Department since December 2002.

Previous experience: Started career as a DOD contracting officer. She worked through the ranks of NASA for 14 years, first as a procurement officer and eventually as the agency's associate administrator for procurement. She served as the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy from July 1998 to June 2000 before rejoining DOD as a procurement executive.

Education: Holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Central State University, Edmond, Okla., and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma.

Professional awards: She was awarded NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal and Exceptional Achievement Medal. In 1996 and 2001, she was a recipient of the Senior Executive Service Presidential Rank Award. In 1998, she was a Federal 100 award recipient. In March 2001, Lee received the Honorable Elmer B. Staats Award for Accountability.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.