An Interview with Ms. Dawn Rosarius
Earlier this year, Dawn Rosarius was officially named to the Senior Executive Service and became the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command's Principal Assistant for Acquisition, overseeing program management and acquisition strategies for the command's medical product development and procurement programs. Having served on Fort Detrick for the past 25 years, Rosarius knows the USAMRMC, and the Army post, quite well.
With a background in engineering and technology management, Rosarius' resume is heavy in program management and analytics. Her leadership roles within the USAMRMC include serving as Director of Materiel Acquisition at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency; Director of Plans, Programs, Analysis and Evaluation, USAMRMC; and Civilian Deputy to the Principal Assistant for Acquisition, USAMRMC. Most recently, Rosarius served as the Acting PAA for USAMRMC, before accepting the role permanently this past January.
As part of its mission to support and sustain the health of our nation's Warfighters, the USAMRMC is tasked with providing effective medical solutions to our military forces as quickly as possible — and Rosarius takes this responsibility very seriously.
"We are all here for a greater purpose, a noble mission — to serve the Army and take care of our Warfighters, and our teams," said Rosarius, during her recent promotion ceremony.
Her sincerity speaks volumes, and her history with the USAMRMC is well known and respected. In light of this, our meeting prior to her recent promotion ceremony was very enlightening, as she provided a great deal of insight regarding her new role, her goals for the future, and the changes that lie ahead for the USAMRMC and Army Medicine. Although the mission may stay the same, the way the command accomplishes this task will likely change.
JS: Can you please tell me your thoughts on being named to the Senior Executive Service, and on your new PAA role?
DR: I'm actually very humbled and excited for this new role. There are so many great people at USAMRMC, and so many great solutions we're developing for the Warfighter, in support of their health and for saving their lives. It brings me great joy to continue to work with the team here, and also to be in a leadership role to help them be successful. This will also involve my additional responsibilities as the new Milestone Decision Authority for the command.
JS: As the PAA, what are some of your goals for the command going forward?
DR: Some of my goals, that I hope to accomplish as a team, include looking at the full lifecycle of the product, not just the developmental piece. We've spent many great years working with developmental products, and we're finally getting these products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and ready for fielding. Now, we need to take that next step and look closely at the entire sustainment and fielding process, to get these critical products out to our Warfighters as quickly as possible.
JS: What are some things that we can do better?
DR: One area that we need to improve upon is the sustainment side of things. We are working to enhance this part of the process, especially as the command is separated under the Army Materiel Command and the Army Futures Command. We will need to synchronize ourselves effectively with the new Army Medical Logistics Command, AMC, to ensure that the medical products we field can be sustained without issues. I think we can also improve our Strategic Communications regarding the value of medical product development and program management within the medical community, and the value of medical research, development and acquisition throughout the Army.
By improving in this, we will position ourselves to communicate more effectively, and sync with the rest of the Army and the Defense Health Agency to ensure we're aligned with other Army and Department of Defense project managers. Also, on the financial side, we plan to align more closely to the Army and the DOD. We have done things a certain way for quite a long time, and this has worked very well while we were under MEDCOM [U.S. Army Medical Command]. However, I'm not sure it will continue to work for us when we move under the Army Futures Command — or in the future, when we move under the Defense Health Agency. Our goal is to ensure that the way we do business is aligned to other similar organizations, so everyone can understand our command and our mission. Even right now, there are some people within USAMRMC who may not know what a project manager is, or does. We need to make sure that this and other aspects of our business are very clear, so that everyone can coordinate better with us, so we are successful in providing our products to the Warfighter.
JS: On that note, what are your thoughts on the products we create for our Warfighters?
DR: I think we've done a tremendous job in this area. Of course, there are always a lot of speed bumps and hurdles to overcome in getting a product to the Warfighter, when we go through both the FDA process and the acquisition process. But I believe our team, especially in the past five years, has done an excellent job at working through this. We have received great cooperation from the FDA, especially recently with the passing of Public Law 115-92 that allows us to prioritize review of the programs we need to get to the field quickly, which is really helping us support the Warfighter mission. Also, our project managers have taken the lead, in trying to get more products FDA approved and into the field more quickly — all with the ultimate goal of saving lives and improving Warfighter readiness.
JS: What are your thoughts on USAMRMC's upcoming move under the Army Futures Command, and how may this help us in our mission going forward?
DR: I think being a part of a new organization is always exciting, because it can present us with many new opportunities for success. The Army Futures Command is a nascent organization, so we can use this occasion to educate leadership and staff on our mission, ensuring they understand and support us from the start. I'm not quite sure that they fully understand the medical aspect of our role. We can help to guide them early on, and show them the great success we've had so far. We will assist them in understanding our mission fully, so we can quickly garner their support in everything we do for our Warfighters.
Actually, we've been doing this with the Army Materiel Command, for the short time that we've been under the organization. It's been very encouraging to see the support we've received from their leadership from the beginning, and General Perna [AMC commander] has been extremely supportive of our mission! The AMC team understands the role of the project manager, and they understand the mission. It's been very exciting to be a part of this, to watch this new relationship grow stronger. So I'm equally encouraged to see what can come of our relationship with the AFC, as I think this partnership will help us with our mission in support of Service Members throughout the world. And, per the law, when we transition under under DHA, then these relationships with four-star commands will certainly serve as great "stepping stones" to help us.
JS: As you mentioned, the USAMRMC is anticipating a slight separation, as the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency and MEDLOG is slated to remain under the AMC while the rest of the command moves under the AFC. What are your thoughts on this upcoming change?
DR: I feel that any time you break up a lifecycle process, it becomes a little more challenging. But we are going to use this as an opportunity to help us streamline and document our processes better. Having been together as one organization, all of these years, we've seen things work well. But we haven't always done the best job of documenting how the process works — making sure that things are meeting the metrics the way they should — so this is an opportunity to really get it right. Of course, there will be some hiccups along the way, but we can use this change more as a positive than a negative, to make things work better for us as we move forward.
JS: How do you see Army Acquisition changing as we head into the future, and under AFC?
DR: That's a really good question. I really don't think we know the answer to this yet. I think that AFC and ASA(ALT) [Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology)] are still working out the details, and we will follow their lead. For now, we're going to do all we can to streamline things, and show best business practices. I'm really hoping this change will help to speed up the process of getting products to our Warfighters. What they are working on right now should help to speed up the requirements side of things. And we have the new FDA law that I mentioned — this should help to speed up the regulatory side. So, what's left is for us to figure out what acquisition tools are available that can help us speed up the acquisition process. As the Milestone Decision Authority, I will have the opportunity to help with this. Unless more acquisition requirements are added to the process, as Acquisition Category III and IV programs, we will continue to streamline areas to expedite the process. We'll have to wait and see what happens.
JS: For the past six years, you have also served as the Acquisition Career Management Advocate for the Army Medical Department, serving nearly 1000 members of Army Acquisition Workforce. So will your role as USAMRMC PAA affect your role as the AMEDD ACMA?
DR: Yes, this role will change — in light of AMEDD's future as well — but we don't know how just yet. We believe that we will still function as the AMEDD ACMA, and manage all of the military personnel in the AMEDD, as they are unique acquisition staff; but I believe we will only support the AFC medical acquisition workforce. The group that will remain under AMC, the Medical Logistics teams, will be managed by the AMC ACMA. For those throughout MEDCOM, in the Medical Treatment Facilities, we will support these groups until they transition to DHA. We will definitely sustain the mission until everyone is settled under their new ACMAs. We have to update some documentation, and we are already coordinating with the appropriate AMC and DHA teams.
And yes, although I have thoroughly enjoyed this role, I will be relinquishing it to the new Civilian Deputy to the PAA, although this position has yet to be filled. The ACMA position actually falls to the Civilian Deputy, but of course, I will always be here to help with anything needed, and to answer any questions. I plan to stay very engaged in the Acquisition Workforce, and our team will continue to do everything we can to support AMEDD Army Acquisition Workforce growth, and ensure the workforce is up-to-date with any required training and certifications. There will not be a break in ACMA service at any time.
JS: You have a long history serving the USAMRMC, having worked at Fort Detrick for the past 25 years. Do you see this as being an advantage for you in your role as the USAMRMC PAA?
DR: Well, some might say that this history is not always an advantage! But yes, I believe it certainly does help me in my role as the PAA. I understand not only the project management side of the house, but I also understand the logistics side. I'm not an expert in any of it, but I do understand it well enough, and I believe with my leadership skills and my knowledge of the entire command, and our mission, I can reach out and help our teams get to that end goal — as quickly as possible — to deliver critical medical solutions to our Warfighters! And based on my experience and the relationships I've built over the years, I do believe my history with the USAMRMC will help as we split under the two commands, AFC and AMC, to maintain that link between our product managers and the logisticians, for the successful completion of our mission. This always must be our main focus.
With a mission to create, develop, deliver and sustain medical capabilities for Service Members throughout the world, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command was under the umbrella of the U.S. Army Medical Command until October 2018, at which time the USAMRMC began reporting directly to the U.S. Army Materiel Command.