Agencies head back to college to recruit acquisition workers

To expand the acquisition workforce, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget are turning to college students.

A governmentwide effort dubbed the Federal Acquisition Intern Coalition will serve as a one-stop shop for students to learn more about government acquisition. OPM will champion the new initiative at more than 500 college campuses through the support of the Partnership of Public Service.

The main thrust of the coalition, which has been a year in the making, comes in the form of a Web page launched today as part of the Federal Acquisition Institute’s Web site.

Included on the Web page is a fact sheet that shows benefits and salaries for government employees. The sheet can also be customized to include any additional information agencies want potential employees to know.

The coalition comes as a large segment of the federal workforce prepares to retire.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Paul Denett said agencies must not only be proactive in hiring new contracting employees but get involved with teaching.

“You don’t retain [acquisition personnel] by giving them a copy of the [Federal Acquisition Regulation] and having them sit in the corner and learn it,” he said.

Shortages in contracting officers have been blamed for contracting problems after Hurricane Katrina and in Iraq. In April 2007, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said that the government employs half the contracting officers it did in 2001 while handling twice the number of contracts.

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