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Karla Smith Jackson

Senior Procurement Executive, Deputy Chief Acquisition Officer and Assistant Administrator for Procurement

Karla Smith Jackson is the Senior Procurement Executive, Deputy Chief Acquisition Officer, and Assistant Administrator for the Office of Procurement at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In this role, she provides senior executive leadership and oversight of NASA’s procurement functions, policy, and initiatives to an acquisition workforce of over 4,300 personnel.

Ms. Smith Jackson serves on the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) Board of Directors, the world’s leading association in the field of contract management, where she shares responsibility for setting the strategic direction of the organization, ensuring its financial stability, and overseeing the development and delivery of member services and educational programs. She also serves on the Federal Acquisition Institute Board of Directors and on the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council. She is one of only three signatory authorities that can execute procurement policies and procedures on behalf of the United States Federal Government. In addition, she represents NASA’s enterprise procurement organization across the Federal Government, industry, and international organizations. 

A seasoned acquisition professional with over 30 years of extensive experience, Ms. Smith Jackson previously served as the Acting Director for Acquisition at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). As the senior advisor and authority on all aspects of acquisition, contract planning, and management she provided guidance and oversight to programs that successfully integrated a single missile defense system into a layered missile defense capability. From 2016 to 2020, she served as the Director of Contracts at MDA, responsible for all agency contracting actions.

In 1991, Ms. Smith Jackson began her federal service career as an Acquisition Management (AM) intern at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, formerly the Defense Nuclear Agency. After graduation, she joined the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which later became the Missile Defense Agency, as a senior contract specialist. During her tenure at BMDO, Ms. Smith Jackson held several positions, including, Director of Technology, Test, and Targets Contracting and Director of Contract Policy, Pricing, and Review. She then went on to serve as the Director for Acquisition Policy and Legislation in the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In this role, she managed the development and promulgation of Government-wide acquisition regulation and policy and represented DHS on all acquisition legislation decisions. Previous assignments include Chief/Deputy Chief of Contract Operations for the U.S. Coast Guard, Chief of Staff/Executive Officer to the Director of Acquisition at MDA, Chief of Acquisition Operations at the Headquarters of the Defense Logistics Agency, and Deputy Executive Director for Contracts at the Headquarters of the Defense Contract Management Agency.

Ms. Smith Jackson holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University and a Master of Science degree in contract and acquisition management from the Florida Institute of Technology. She also holds a Master of Science degree in national resource strategy with a concentration in acquisition from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Defense Acquisition University). She became a Certified Professional Contracts Manager in 1997 and is Level III–certified in the Contracting (Acquisition) Career Field. She is a graduate of the Department of Defense Executive Leadership Development Program and the Defense Leadership and Management Program.

Ms. Smith Jackson has been featured in numerous publications, such as the NCMA Contract Management Magazine article “A Passion for Innovation,” the Space Foundation’s Space Report, “Procurement Chief Open to New Ways to do Business with NASA,” and the Partnership for Public Service’s article, “Collaborate to Innovate—Four Pillars of Federal Procurement Transformation.” She has also been a guest speaker on the GovCast Podcast episode “New Acquisition Framework Makes NASA’s Procurement Process Thrive.”

Known as a global speaker, Ms. Smith Jackson has spoken at international forums and conventions such as the DefenseIQ’s Space Operations Summit in London, England, and the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been invited to speak on panels such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International Women’s Day panel—Navigating Change in 2023 and Beyond, and the 2022 Federal Acquisition Conference.

As the recipient of numerous awards, Ms. Smith Jackson has received the 2023 Presidential Rank Award, the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, and the OSD Medal for Humanitarian Civilian Service. She was also recognized as one of WashingtonExec’s Top Contract Execs to Watch in 2023.

While holding numerous titles and positions, two of Ms. Jackson’s most important titles are wife to her loving husband and mother to her incredible daughters.

Connect with Ms. Karla Smith Jackson.