NSPS program manager retires after 31 years government service

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gilmartin
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
After successfully implementing a new pay-for-performance personnel system across Electronic Systems Center, Bob Youtt, ESC's National Security Personnel System program manager, is retiring May 2 with 31 years of federal service.

Mr. Youtt began his federal career as an education counselor with the Army at Fort Devens, Mass. in 1977. He came to Hanscom and ESC in 1980, spending the majority of his career in procurement, and eventually rising to the position of deputy director of Contracting before being hand-picked in 2005 to roll out the new personnel system across ESC.

A native of the small upstate New York city of Glens Falls, Mr. Youtt earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts with a focus on chemistry in 1970 from State University of New York Plattsburg, and in 1976, earned a master's degree in counseling, also from SUNY Plattsburg.

With his master's degree in hand, Mr. Youtt became a continuing education counselor at Clinton Community College in Plattsburg N.Y., spending half of each work day on Plattsburg AFB, where he was first exposed to working with the military.

"My Plattsburg experience really opened my eyes about the military," he said. "I had never imagined I would work for the Department of Defense, but after spending some time on base, I began to think of it as a real possibility."

In 1977, Mr. Youtt qualified for federal service by taking the government mid-level exam and landed his job as a GS-09 at Fort Devens. He was quite content in that position, but when he heard of Copper Cap, an Air Force managed intern program to train and recruit Air Force as contract specialists, his interest was piqued. He applied and was accepted, moving to Hanscom in 1980 as a GS-09 trainee, with potential for growth to a GS-12.

"Copper Cap is a great program, and an awesome training experience," he said. "I had many great mentors who really looked out for my best interests, including Brigadier General John Slinkard, Maurice Fowler, Bob Bowes, Bob Langlois, Tim Coravos, Jerry O'Connell, Tom Wells and Bonnie Taylor."

"I owe a good bit of my career to them," he said. "They saw in me what I didn't see in myself. Their encouragement allowed me to grow, and eventually become a GS-15 and deputy director."

As a contracting specialist, Mr. Youtt spent 10 years in ESC's MILSTAR program office and seven years in the Airborne Warning and Control system program office.

"The most exciting thing I ever did was fly a B-2 simulator at a Northrop facility before anyone had even seen the stealth bomber publicly," he said.

His career allowed him to travel, especially while working on AWACS, helping field the NATO, United Kingdom and Japanese versions of the surveillance aircraft.
"I had the opportunity to travel to Tokyo, Brunssum in the Netherlands, and of course, several trips to Boeing headquarters in Seattle," he said.

In 1996, Mr. Youtt was honored for his dedication, winning the Air Force Contracting Officer of the Year award in the civilian category.

His success in program offices brought promotions to GS-14. In 2003, Mr. Youtt was selected as the Contracting Directorate's technical director, the first person to fill that GS-15 position, and a year later, he was selected as the deputy director.

"Serving as deputy allowed me to function at the highest level of acquisition," he said. My focus was on growing our work force, on hiring and training. I realized for the first time in my career that we're just like any other business, with all the challenges a major company faces. It gave me a much broader view of how the Air Force is run as an organization."

Mr. Youtt's career took an unexpected turn in late 2005 when he received a call from Fran Duntz, ESC's executive director, asking if he would be interested in taking on the challenge of implementing NSPS.

"It was a heck of a big challenge, controversial, and not in my area of expertise," he said. "But, I felt that if Mrs. Duntz felt this was the best way for me to spend the last few years of my government career, then I'd do it."

Getting up to speed on the new system, planning an implementation strategy and getting the work force trained took up the majority of Mr. Youtt's first months in the new job. Soon, he was focusing on developing the structure of pay pools and ensuring equity across the center.

"When we implemented NSPS in January 2007, it went very smoothly thanks in large part to Bob's hard work and dedication," Mrs. Duntz said.

Not resting on his laurels, Mr. Youtt will teach one more NSPS course the day before he officially retires.

"I had a great career," he said. "I enjoyed the hands-on contracting in the AWACS program office the most, working with contractors and requirements people. It was fun."

An avid kayaker in the warmer months and a skier in the winter, Mr. Youtt will spend the next few weeks at his second home in Corea, Maine.

"With 10 acres and 1,000 feet of shore line, that ought to keep me busy," he said.

But don't be surprised if you see him around Hanscom in some other capacity.
"I plan on seeking future employment as a contractor or consultant in some niche for a few years, until I retire to Maine for good with my wife Kathleen," he said.

The Hanscom community will have an opportunity to say farewell to Mr. Youtt during his official retirement ceremony at 1:30 p.m. May 29 at the Minuteman Club. All are invited to the ceremony, which will be officiated by Mrs. Duntz.