Analyst: Acquisition workforce needs retooling

Federal officials need to create a single employment series for government acquisition employees that matches the structure of the workforce to the nature of the work, a former procurement official said last week.

The acquisition series should encompass program management, contracting officers and a new function called requirements management, which, in essence, would be an expanded version of a contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR), said David Litman, a member of the board of directors at the Federal Acquisition Innovation and Reform Institute.

Folding all the players into one series would build a team mentality among members of the acquisition workforce, Litman wrote in a paper titled “A Call to Restructure the Acquisition Workforce.”

“Contract specialists are included in the 1102 series with their own specialized training and certification programs,” he wrote. “Acquisition program managers have no dedicated series…although they do have their own unique training and certification requirements.”

Meanwhile, COTRs are often plucked reluctantly from the ranks of the technical staff, and the training they receive is of little help in defining contract requirements upfront, wrote Litman, former senior procurement executive at the Transportation Department and former chairman of the Federal Chief Acquisition Officers Council’s Human Capital Working Group.

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, said Litman's approach is on the right track. It emphasizes that acquisition includes more than just signing contracts — it's also about defining requirements before issuing a solicitation and managing the contract after an award, Soloway said.

About the Author

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

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Reader comments

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 Jim Ellison FT Huachuca, AZ

Dear Mr.Matthew Weigelt, RE: Acquisition workforce needs retooling Great article! Recently retiring (2 Jan 09/FT Huachuca, AZ) from civil service, and performing as a COR for the past 14 years, COTR/TPOCs for engineering services task orders was and continues to be challenge for the contracting officers. It would be my pleasure to share some firsthand knowledge! Sincerely Jim Ellison

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