Officials seek information on departing employees

Officials don’t have any clear evidence of why government acquisition employees leave the contracting community or where they go afterward. However, they will  seek that information.

The Federal Acquisition Institute has been trying to learn where agencies' employees go when they switch jobs. Officials are sorting out the information gathered, and they expect to have preliminary results in a new section of the institute's annual workforce report that's due in late spring, said FAI Director Karen Pica.

To get that information, officials have tracked acquisition employees who leave the procurement community for a new job at another agency. The officials have also taken information from exit interviews done with departing employees, and they’re also trying to talk with employees who’ve left for the private sector, Pica told a Senate subcommittee at a Feb. 14 hearing on the federal acquisition workforce.

“We want to ask them why they left,” Pica said.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia Subcommittee, said a large portion of the workforce is leaving even though they are not eligible for retirement benefits.

FAI’s Annual Report on the Federal Acquisition Workforce for 2006, released in May, found that 80 percent of acquisition employees who left the public sector were not eligible for retirement benefits, while only 20 percent were eligible.

“That’s a growing problem,” Akaka said.

Akaka and Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), the subcommittee’s ranking member, both expressed concern over the state of the acquisition workforce’s training and the impending wave of retirements, which could drain a lot of contracting expertise.


“Poor contract execution and oversight inevitably leads to problems,” Akaka said. Training is paramount as contracts become more complex and agencies rely on contractors to help define contract requirements.

About the Author

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

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