Workforce tops new OFPP chief's priorities
Lesley Field, who begins serving Sept. 3 as acting administrator for federal procurement policy, said intern programs are critical in attracting and keeping people in the acquisition workforce.
“We’re trying to get the message out to people who are coming out of college or changing careers that this is a tremendous field,” she said in a recent interview with Federal Computer Week. It was Field’s first interview as deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. In July she moved from a policy analyst at OFPP to its deputy administrator when Robert Burton retired. Now, with OFPP’s current administrator Paul Denett leaving the job today, Field will be in charge of the governmentwide policy office.
Procurement often isn’t high on people’s lists when it comes choosing careers, Field and other officials in acquisition say. However, “we want to be right there” when they're considering their options, Field said. Officials developed the logo “Be America’s buyer” to convey the career field in a very straightforward way, she said.
OFPP, the Federal Acquisition Institute and the Office of Personnel Management are using the Federal Acquisition Intern Coalition to tell people “that this is a career you grow in,” she said.
One brochure on the FAI’s Web site says employees in procurement can earn a $60,000 annual salary after being in the field for three years. It also says there’s room to grow and explore new interests.
Field said she has been in acquisition since 1990, when she entered an intern program at the Transportation Department. Field said she rotated between several agencies while in the yearlong program, working at the Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration, and those rotations gave her a new perspective on the department’s operations.
“You learn different skills at these places,” she said.
A shifting economy can affect the numbers and types of people looking at the government for job because it offers satability, officials say.
“Our challenge is to make sure, if we get the great people that we hope we can get, that we can keep them,” Field said. “Retention becomes just as important as recruitment and development.”
The rotations between agencies may be a key to keeping those people. People in the public and private sectors and in almost any field can get bored with and tired of their job. She said rotations can reinvigorate employees.
“We are in a very good position to offer that where we can,” she said.
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.