Employee swap: OFPP contemplates exchange program

Trading employees for short-term projects may broaden careers while providing expertise to a department in need.

Do you ever wish you could trade one of your acquisition experts to another agency in exchange for one who knows more about a specific procurement need you have? 

It may be an option later this year. Officials at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Federal Acquisition Institute plan to launch a talent exchange program. They want to create a way for agencies to share employees with uncommon expertise, so that other agencies can benefit from the broad capabilities. Agency officials need to borrow that experience when they deal with an acquisition in an area where their own contracting officers lack it, said Donna Jenkins, the director of FAI.

Acquisition employees may also welcome the program, as it will allow them to get a change of pace and broaden their resumes without permanently changing jobs, Jenkins said during a panel discussion on the acquisition workforce at the Interagency Resources Management Conference on March 15.

It would offer “opportunities for short stints where you might need help,” she said. In addition, there would be a repository for interested employees to look for possible opportunities to offer expertise.

The idea for the exchange program was born when a senior procurement executive asked FAI if there were any acquisition employees available for a large source selection process at the executive's department, Jenkins said. Since then, OFPP and FAI are have been working with the Federal Acquisition Fellows Coalition to develop and refine the exchange process, and to develop applications and various forms to carry out the program. OFPP sponsors the coalition in order to build the community of new employees and broaden their exposure to the various missions of government agencies.

About the Author

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

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