DOD, GAO differ on measuring the workforce

GAO said defense officials would benefit by linking training to performance for acquisition employees

Defense Department officials and analysts at the Government Accountability Office disagree on which set of metrics will yield the best perspective of what’s happening with the department's acquisition workforce, according to a new report.

GAO recommended that DOD establish milestones to track how contracting-related certification training for acquisition workers improves their proficiency, abilities and performance.

However, DOD officials said they already have metrics in place. Their measurements give a view of DOD’s workforce, such as its composition and experience.


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DOD officials track the number of civilian and military personnel who handle acquisition work and the number of people the department adds as a result of insourcing federal work from businesses.

They also check on annual increases in the percent of acquisition staff members with levels II and III certification requirements. Finally, they seek to exceed benchmarks in government and industry for the average number of training courses offered in the classroom and online and the average number of follow-up surveys received to measure courses' usefulness.

GAO said those measurements were worthwhile, but they don’t offer information on productivity. DOD’s existing metrics don't show the outcome in terms of employees’ proficiencies or capabilities.

“Without outcome metrics, DOD cannot demonstrate how certification training contributes to improving organizational performance results,” GAO auditors wrote.

Given the scale and value of DOD’s acquisitions and spending, GAO said defense officials would benefit by linking training to performance.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Tue, Jan 18, 2011 William GAO HQ - IT Support - Non-audit

Matthew, I appreciate your article as unbiased and informative; I would think the readers would also appreciate some factual perspective on the scale of the issue, i.e estimates for the number of acquisition staff to the number of contracts, to the number of procurement actions taken each year. Additionally, if GAO states any program savings to be gained by measuring productivity of acquisition staff, that could be relavent too. DOD 'insourcing' of jobs to federal employees is a wholle other issue but if there are funds being saved that way, it's a very important perspective as well. Thank you.

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