Training

Agencies sign pact to strengthen acquisition training

computer and books

OFPP and GSA will strengthen their commitment to FAI. (Stock image)

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the General Services Administration signed a service-level agreement March 21 to strengthen their cooperation and commitment to the Federal Acquisition Institute.

"GSA is uniquely qualified to provide the day-to-day management of FAI, so this agreement will ensure that FAI is able to meet the needs of the acquisition community in the years ahead," OFPP Administrator Joe Jordan told FCW.

Jordan and acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini agreed to use FAI to deliver training to the civilian acquisition workforce. The agreement is an internal document officially marking the partnership between GSA and OFPP regarding FAI.

The institute has been an important training resource for both agencies since it was established in 1976. Jordan said that in the past year, FAI has increased the quality of its training and expanded the ways in which it delivers that training. Since his confirmation as administrator in 2012, he has stressed the need for improving the acquisition workforce’s skills, as had his predecessor, Dan Gordon.

In an interview, Jordan said he wants to achieve a "mindset shift" among acquisition employees so they will be less concerned about taking risks and begin thinking more innovatively.

"There’s no doubt that over time it seems like our acquisition system has become very risk-averse, and I understand why," Jordan said in an interview with FedScoop. "There’s a lot of robust oversight and that’s good, but I don’t like where that’s taken us in terms of minimizing risk instead of managing risk."

On March 19, Tangherlini told House appropriators that agencies need to find new ways to train their acquisition employees because so many conferences have been canceled. The casualties include the 2013 GSA Expo, where agencies’ employees and even vendors receive a lot of training in numerous areas. GSA recently canceled the SmartPay Conference scheduled for this summer, eliminating an opportunity for feds to learn how to manage their federal credit card purchases.

"I’m worried, though, that we’re going to lose a year of training, so we’re working very hard to make sure training is available via the Web or other means," Tangherlini said.

About the Author

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

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Reader comments

Sun, Mar 24, 2013 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

Is there a monetary commitment with this SLA?Should we not be preparing all acquisition workers (which I include program managers) equally to perform effectively through proper financial investments? We can talk all day about people, but until a financial investment is slated and properly used to educate and develop the acquisition workforce, we will continue to go experience gaps in skill sets and capabilities. Not a silver bullet of course, but educating 1102s on effective and proper practices on how best to execute their missions is important nonetheless. Based on fewer opportunities to attend conferences, classes (in some cases mandatory for certification), and overall training and development, we can expect to go backwards in how we award and manage contracts. Not a particularly welcome prospect.

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