OFPP redefines acquisition workforce -- again

Procurement officials continue to expand the definition of who is included in the federal acquisition workforce as they introduce new policies on training.

Contracting officers’ technical representatives (COTRs) are the latest addition. They act as liaisons between contracting officers and project or program managers. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy will soon issue a memo about certifying such employees, said Robert Burton, deputy administrator of OFPP.

OFPP’s aim is “acquisition workforce ‘professionalization.’ That word is very important,” he said during a panel discussion today at Input’s FedFocus 2008.

Officials have released few details about the content of the upcoming memo, but they are expected to specify fewer requirements and offer more flexibility than they did for the certification of contracting officers.

The memo will require training for COTRs as officials bring them into the acquisition workforce.

OFPP issued certification training requirements for contracting officers in 2005, and in April, Paul Denett, OFPP administrator, released a similar memo requiring certification for managers.

During the panel discussion, Burton said COTRs and program managers would not have considered themselves part of the procurement process in the past.

“Today, they would recognize that they are,” he said.

OFPP is now emphasizing their role. “We’ve never done this before,” Burton said after the discussion.

In his April memo on certification for managers, Denett wrote, “A strong partnership…requires a common understanding of how to meet the government’s needs through acquisitions.”

The FedFocus panel also said the use of agency-specific contracts is growing as agencies move away from multiple-agency and governmentwide acquisition contracts.

For example, GWACs’ market share slid from 10 percent of the government’s technology budget in 2002 to only 6 percent last year, Input’s figures show.

Marcia Madsen, chairwoman of the Acquisition Advisory Panel and a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown, predicted that the General Services Administration’s new Alliant GWAC won’t get as much business as officials have anticipated.

About the Author

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

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