Agencies stalled in tracking training

"Acquisition Workforce: Agencies Need to Better Define and Track the Training of Their Employees"

Until the planned central system for tracking the skills of the federal acquisition workforce is in place, civilian agencies will continue to have problems managing that workforce and properly planning for future program needs, according to a General Accounting Office report released Aug. 28.

Civilian agencies must also expand their definition of their acquisition workforce to ensure that everyone involved in the acquisition process receives the appropriate training, the report states.

The July 29 report for Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, highlights the delays in the Web-based Acquisition Career Management Information System (ACMIS) as a central reason why civilian agencies have not moved forward when it comes to managing the training of their acquisition workforce.

The General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Institute is leading the development and implementation of ACMIS.

The Defense Department does have a centralized, common mechanism to ensure training requirements are being met, although GAO did not attempt to assess the reliability of the system.

Civilian agencies told GAO that they are waiting on the development and implementation of ACMIS — which was started in 1997 and is now expected to be available in September — and view their current management systems as being interim. This has left them relying on various sources of official and unofficial data about the skills of their acquisition workforce, a situation that must improve, according to GAO.

"Continued delays in implementing [ACMIS] will increase the time in which agencies have to use less sophisticated tools for tracking acquisition workforce training," the report states.

DOD also has a much broader definition of what positions are included in the acquisition workforce. Those definitions are generally not reflected in the civilian agencies, even though most of those agencies acknowledge that the acquisition process involves multiple functions and disciplines beyond the traditional contracting office, according to GAO.

GAO recommended that the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Federal Procurement Policy monitor the ACMIS contract to ensure that it is completed on schedule. The agency also recommended that OFPP work with all of the civilian agencies to expand their definition of the acquisition workforce and to make sure all relevant employees receive the training they need.

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