GSA system to track worker skills

ACMIS solicitation

The General Services Administration last month awarded a $1.6 million contract to Marasco Newton Group Ltd. to develop the first governmentwide system to track the current skills and future training needs of the federal acquisition workforce.

The Acquisition Career Management Information System (ACMIS) will be a Web-based application that will allow acquisition personnel, such as contracting officers, to update and maintain their own records and would grant different levels of access to that information to agency managers, as well as Congress and the public.

"The information is important to understand what kind of education and training our acquisition workforce needs and to understand what skills and competencies our workforce has to best leverage those people," said David Drabkin, deputy associate administrator of acquisition policy at GSA's Office of Governmentwide Policy.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army have the only known agencywide systems, and other agencies usually collect this type of education, training and certification information in spreadsheets, said John Cochran, senior computer specialist within the Office of Acquisition Policy's governmentwide information systems division.

Working with the Procurement Executives Council, GSA and Marasco Newton will be developing interfaces for any existing agency systems, but "we expect a lot of them to discard what they are doing and go directly to ACMIS," Cochran said.

The ACMIS contract follows the procurement thrust of the past few years toward performance-based service contracts, which the new administration restated in the President's Management Agenda released in August 2001, Drabkin said.

GSA developed the goal for the system -- to have multilevel, Web-based access to a database holding entries on the more than 150,000 civilian and Defense acquisition personnel -- and asked vendors to propose solutions to get to that goal.

"What we bought was an outcome," Drabkin said.

Marasco Newton, which was acquired by SRA International Inc. last month, has more than a decade of experience in building Web applications for government and commercial clients, "but this system, once in production, would be the most far-reaching system that we have developed," said Cyndi Flores, vice president of information technologies at Marasco Newton.

The solution is based on open-source technology developed with subcontractor Development InfoStructure, allowing agencies to access the system from any Web browser and freeing the government from needing to buy multiple licenses, Flores said.

At the kickoff meeting this week, GSA will review the performance metrics that Marasco Newton developed to evaluate the contract's progress. The company will then begin development, including security testing and certification, and subsequently conduct a pilot test with three to five agencies, including GSA.

The result of the pilot will be a fully operational system that GSA will evaluate for four weeks before signing off on it, Cochran said.

The system should be up and running by September, he said, which is a timeframe that should be simple to meet because ACMIS is based on technologies and processes that are in use across the public and private sectors. "We think it's basically a fairly simple task...of providing a Web-based system," he said.

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