Bill would overhaul federal acquisition training

Legislation would promote career development for those working within the civilian acquisition workforce

A bill now in the House and Senate would reorganize the federal acquisition training system and promote career development for those working within the civilian acquisition workforce.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., introduced the Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act, H.R. 1424, in the House. A companion measure, S. 762, was introduced in the Senate by Susan Collins, R- Maine, Daniel Akaka D-Hawaii, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. and Scott Brown, R-Mass.

“In the past decade, federal procurement spending grew by 155 percent while the acquisition personnel managing that spending grew by just 10 percent,” Connolly said in an April 8 statement. “We just don’t have the workforce to manage large, complex contracts and the Federal Acquisition Institute is not meeting our training demands.”

The bill would clear up issues which have left the FAI largely underused, the lawmakers said. Among other things, the proposed legislation would establish a clear line of responsibility and accountability for the institute by requiring FAI to report directly to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. 

The bill also would require all existing civilian agency training programs to follow guidelines issued by OFPP, which would ensure consistent cross-government training standards, the sponsors said. And the bill would mandate the review of FAI curriculum to make sure it covers all certification needs.

“The federal acquisition system is under tremendous stress,” said Collins. “This level of spending requires professionally trained and invested acquisition personnel who can manage these huge expenditures while also guarding against the possibility of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

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Reader comments

Thu, Apr 21, 2011 EAD

Being new to acquisition coming from academia and industry, I have a PhD and thirty odd years research experience, it is clear to me that the role of cost estimation within the acquisition process has to be revisited. Where I am, estimators are treated as unwanted stepchildren and not integrated into program management. The excuse given is that it is a luxury to have estimators devoted to two or three programs throughout their life cycles. Thus, we go with 'x times y' as the level of sophistication and analysis, and operations research and or cost engineering are rejected as time consuming tools. It is very low level analysis and the very sophisticated folk I work with just go along to get along. Hence, if these new bills can impact the level of mathematical and scientific research that cost estimators are responsible for and their integration into program management then these are good bills.

Mon, Apr 18, 2011 AM

Sounds like something the good COs will learn from and the bad ones will say is a waste of time. I don't think that one can necessarily equate experience with doing the right thing. I have come across many COs whose answer is "this is how we have always done it" when shown how their solicitiation is non-compliant.

Wed, Apr 13, 2011 ERic

1) The inane requirement for a degree no matter the level of real world experience has actually caused several contracting officers I know to stop being a contracting specialist and become a higher grade COR with less responsibility. Talk about insane! 2) Managers should not be able to take salary money for awards and training and, if not invested in the employee, reprogram that money towards other requirements. If they don't use the portions of an employees fully burdened salary that are allocated for training or awards, the funds should return to the Treasury. Why this constantly gets overlooked is maddening.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011

As a career acquistion engineer I have benefitted substantially from my DAWIA/DAU courses, as long at they focused on the pre-production part of acquisition; sustainment training is severely lacking. The contracting classes have proved enough information to keep me out of jail (and off the front page of the Washington Post) and a greater appreciation for contracting officers. If the proposed legislation commonizes the entire federal acquisition process it would be worth it even if it were a partial solution.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 CJ

DoD has had the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act - and associated training and certification - in place for several years now. I'm surprised the article didn't mention it much less cite its effectiveness (on ineffectiveness depending on who's asked). IMHO it's been a step in the right direction, and I can only hope the rest of the federal acquisition reforms won't run at cross purposes.

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