DOD wants boost to acquisition workforce fund
The Defense Department requested $274.2 million for its acquisition workforce fund in the fiscal 2013 budget proposal, money that would help the department in its efforts to save money and buy smarter.
The Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund had $106 million in fiscal 2012, so the 2013 request would be a $168.2 million increase.
In an overview of their budget proposal, officials wrote that the funding is critical to increasing the size of the workforce and improving the workers’ training. They need the training to purchase and negotiate contracts with good business sense.
“Ultimately, it is the quality of the workforce that determines the quality of our acquisition outcomes,” officials wrote. The budget was released Feb. 13.
The fund gives DOD the capacity it needs in both personnel and skills to get the best value when it spends money, which includes enough oversight of contractors’ performance.
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The management aspect of contracting, which comes after awarding a contract, has become an important area in recent years. It's a straightforward way to save money, officials say.
To do that, defense officials have focused on the workforce—another theme throughout the government over the past three years—by aligning the employees’ skills and employee numbers in key areas, such as contracting, managing the acquisition and auditing. Officials also said the training they’re offering their employees has increased. DOD now has 19,000 resident training seats and 100,000 online training seats annually.
Nonetheless, the problems are still at the surface and very visible to officials. One big one is that more than a third of the workforce is eligible for full retirement or will be soon -- 17 percent now, another 19 percent within five years.
The growth in the size of DOD’s workforce declined by 32 percent from fiscal 2010 to 2011, and the loss of workers went up by 32 percent over that same period.
Federal officials at DOD and in civilian agencies have been beefing up their acquisition offices to counter what happened in the 2000s. Between 2001 and 2008, the government’s spending nearly doubled while the acquisition workforce remained essentially flat. The administration has said the lag in building the workforce led to wasteful approaches to contracting and imbalance with the relationship between government and industry. Officials have pushed the rebalancing of that relationship through insourcing.
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.