VA's Acquisition Academy gets excellence award
The academy plans to open its classes to all agencies
- By Matthew Weigelt
- Jul 08, 2009
The Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy’s Internship School has received an award from the Chief Acquisition Officers Council for being a model of innovation.
The CAO Council awarded the Fredrick, Md.-based school its 2009
Team Acquisition Excellence Award in June. The award recognizes teams
that have taken successful innovative approaches in acquisition
management. The council says the school has a pioneering style of
teaching and differs from most traditional acquisition intern programs
because of its holistic approach that emphasizes leadership,
interpersonal and communication skills.
In an interview today, Lisa Doyle, the academy’s chancellor, said
the school’s mission is to make its students into acquisition
professionals who are “trusted business advisers sought out by their
peers and by their customers.”
The school is preparing the next generation of acquisition and business leaders for the VA, she said.
The school teaches its students to look at acquisition through
unique lenses. The Federal Acquisition Regulation “is a very empowering
document,” said Melissa Starinsky, vice chancellor of the intern
school, adding that the FAR allows acquisition officials to think more
creatively than many people realize.
If a strategy isn’t addressed in the FAR or prohibited by law, it “is a permissible exercise of authority,” according to FAR Part 1.
Starinsky said acquisition employees need to be risk managers in
order to use that authority appropriately and the acquisition field is
fraught with risks.
“VA’s acquisition professionals must have the requisite judgment and
skills to deliver the best value to the taxpayer and to our nation’s
veterans,” Doyle said. In doing that, “the program is a success.”
Doyle plans to open the program to all agencies in the near future.
Although she wouldn’t give a specific date, the school now is preparing
for the expansion. “We’re ready,” she said, adding, “We know other
agencies are in need.”
The school currently has six classrooms and is building 10 more
rooms. The 2009 fall semester begins Aug. 3 with 30 students, 17 of
The council also awarded a 2009 Acquisition Excellence Award to
Alvera Reichert, a senior contracting officer at the U.S. Agency for
International Development. Based in Baghdad, Reichert created an
acquisition and assistance office to get needed materials for
development programs. She also directed the office's operations
while managing two construction contracts valued at more than $3
Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.