Survey: Acquisition employees say they've improved

Employees say they improved in many areas except performance-based contracting

Employees in the federal acquisition workforce say they've improved their proficiency in numerous areas, except regarding performance-based contracting, new report said.

According to the 2008 Acquisition Workforce Competency Survey (AWCS), nine of 17 contracting competencies, such as evaluating contract bids and awarding a contract, increased by a score of at least 0.50 when compared to the same survey conducted in 2007.

The Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) released the survey July 31. Respondents had a choice of choosing responses ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."

The largest increase came in the area of requirements management, the survey said. It increased by 1.05 points compared to 2007, reaching to a score of 4.10, which means respondents "agree" they are proficient in this skill. It means that employees say they are more competent in administering contract requirements, managing vendor relationships and working with contracting officer’s technical representative to monitor contracts.

The areas where employees believe they are least proficient are dispute resolution and termination -- a score of 3.63 -- financial management, 3.67;  and performance-based contracting, at 3.48. Performance-based contracting is the only skill that had no change compared with to 2007.

Based on the survey's definition, to be proficient in performance-based contracting, a contracting officer would have to believe he or she knows when it’s best to use that type of contract and then develop an appropriate work statement. It also includes conducting research to find performance incentives that will clearly measure a contractor’s work, according to the definition.

Financial management, which increased by a score of 0.40 compared with 2007, is handling all financial aspects of contract administration, including authorizing payments, recovering debts, and detecting fraud.

Dispute resolution, which increased by a score of 0.54, means analyzing disputes and negotiating resolutions, or ending a contract.

A total of 4,434 acquisition employees representing 26 agencies participated in the survey, which was conducted by the FAI.

About the Author

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

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