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NUWC Division Newport contracting compliance lead applies her skills in the Air Force Reserves

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs | July 7, 2020

NEWPORT, R.I. —

As the contracting compliance lead for Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Policy Branch in the Contracts Department, Allison S. DeSimone interprets and advises on policy for contracting matters. It’s a role she’s quite familiar with, as she also serves as major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, where she serves as a contracting officer and supports 225 personnel, across 14 divisions and six geographically separated units.  

A Division Newport employee since 2013, DeSimone has served in the Air Force since 2007. Currently, she is assigned to the Digital Program Executive Office at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. In her role, she supports acquiring and sustaining air, space, cyber and nuclear C4ISR battle management systems. She develops program acquisition strategies, resolves complex program and contracting issues, and leads senior leader discussions.  DeSimone also serves as an admissions liaison officer for the Air Force Academy.

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in history, DeSimone was commissioned in May 2007 and served more than five years on active duty as a contracting officer. While on active duty she was assigned to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana and Hanscom. She continued as a contracting officer in the Air Force Reserves was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana then again at Hanscom. 

Along with attending Mission Ready Contracting Officer School, Air and Space Basic Course, Squadron Officer School and Air Command Staff College, DeSimone earned an MBA from the American Military University in 2010. She served in Northern Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012.

A resident of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, with her husband and their two young children, DeSimone spend her childhood in Manchester, Connecticut.

Public Affairs Office staff recently asked DeSimone a few questions about her service:

Q: What is a typical weekend of service like? Describe how the type of reservist you are is different.

As an individual mobilization augmentee (IMA) reservist, I do not have the traditional one weekend a month/two weeks a year commitment. Guardsmen and traditional reservists tend to serve in a unit and do their duty together. As an IMA, I am a reservist assigned to an active duty unit, so I work when they work. My duty time commitment is approximately equal to the traditional reservist time commitment (24 half-day periods that can be split in any way that is acceptable to the unit and to my civilian job and a two week annual tour – which cannot be split up). The difference is, I need to work when my unit is working, so all of my duty occurs during the week.

I typically work four full days three times during the year and then my two-week annual tour. I try to work my commitment between the start of the government’s fiscal year on Oct. 1 and the end of my “Reserve Ready” year, May 30. I spread my commitment out during that time so that I can be present and assist my unit when I can contribute most effectively.

I have been a contracting officer for my full career, so while on duty I assist with contract actions, perform reviews, assist rising contracting officers in preparing to meet their warrant boards, and other projects as needed. As an IMA, if deployments increase significantly, I can be activated to support my unit full time until enough active duty contracting officers return home.

In addition to the IMA position, I serve as an academy liaison officer, guiding high school students seeking admission to the Air Force Academy or selection for ROTC. I mentor local students through the arduous process of applying and I interview and evaluate other high school students as part of their application process.

Q: What’s your most notable experience?

While on active duty, I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn. I was a contracting officer supporting the large base support contract. I made very close friends and it was a tremendously fulfilling experience to support the mission.

Q: Why did you sign up for the Reserves?

I made the decision to leave active duty after having my first child. I wanted to put down solid roots for her and my husband and I had lived separately for the majority of our relationship and marriage. Knowing that a likely deployment would mean leaving my daughter and husband behind, was not an acceptable lifestyle for me. Although I put in my separation paperwork, I realized that I was not prepared to say goodbye to the Air Force uniform. I looked at reserve options, and determined that the IMA program would provide me with the flexibility I needed to have the family life I desired, while continuing to serve in the Air Force. I have now been a reservist for longer than I was on active duty, and am so grateful to have had this opportunity.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone interested in reserve duty?

Do your best to not have a break in service, apply early so you have plenty of time to find a position before you separate and be prepared to manage your career. There is support, but being a reservist requires a lot more self-management than being an active duty member. Ask questions, and actively seek out ways you can support your unit.

NUWC Division Newport is a shore command of the U.S. Navy within the Naval Sea Systems Command, which engineers, builds and supports America’s fleet of ships and combat systems. NUWC Newport provides research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support for submarines, autonomous underwater  systems, undersea offensive and defensive weapons systems, and countermeasures associated with undersea warfare.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869.  Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.