Meet OMB's new point person on the acquisition workforce

Newhart's senior-level position is central to the administration addressing the acquisition workforce size and training problems.

PHILADELPHIA — Joanie Newhart, a veteran in the government procurement arena, will lead the Office of Management and Budget’s efforts on building up the acquisition workforce. Newhart’s new title is associate administrator for acquisition workforce programs inside OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy; she started her new job on May 10.

Newhart is now the point woman for one of the top priorities of the Obama administration's procurement reform agenda: finding ways to hire and train acquisition employees, especially when agencies are attempting to increase their workforces. Newhart said she is still learning about the other aspects of the job, including working with legislation.

Overall, this position is critical to strengthening the acquisition workforce, Daniel Gordon, administrator of OMB’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said in a recent interview with Federal Computer Week.

Newhart said one of her first tasks will be analyzing agencies’ acquisition workforce development strategic plans—plans she says are probably on her desk waiting for review. Prior to Gordon's arrival at OFPP in November, OFPP officials had instructed agencies to draw up plans to both grow and train their acquisition workforces.


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Following the acquisition workforce priority in President Barack Obama’s March 4, 2009, procurement reform memo, Gordon is working to balance the number of government workers working in federal agencies compared to private-sector employees.

"The  right answer isn't just throwing more numbers into the workforce," Newhart said, as a panelist at the Management of Change conference here, which is hosted by the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council. To improve the workforce though, "we need to look at the problem creatively."

Administration officials are trying to get agencies to think long term about their workforces. In the past, many agencies have only concentrated on filling vacancies in their contracting shops, according to an OFPP memo. Oftentimes agency officials forgot about the broader implications and the effects on related employees, including program managers and contracting officer’s technical representatives, who check up on contractors’ work.

“I’m going to help Daniel Gordon because I totally believe in what he’s doing,” Newhart said. “I think I can make a real difference.”

Newhart has worked in government procurement for 30 years. She has held senior procurement executive positions at several departments, including the Small Business Administration and the Transportation Department. Prior to moving to OFPP, Newhart was a senior adviser on acquisition workforce issues at the General Services Administration.

About the Author

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

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