Next up for acquisition workforce: virtual training

gears on diagram

The agency charged with overseeing development of the government's acquisition workforce says mobile apps that urge users to help solve theoretical disease epidemics, fly electronic versions of Coast Guard rescue helicopters and dissect frogs can be an inspiration for federal contracting officers.

The GSA's Federal Acquisition Institute issued a solicitation Jan. 14 through the General Services Administration's Federal Acquisition Service looking for companies to develop "interactive challenge" mobile apps for virtual acquisition training for the federal acquisition workforce.

FAI said the success of other interactive mobile apps -- the Center for Disease Control's "Solve the Outbreak," NASA's "Space Place" suite that includes "Rescue 406," and's biosimulations -- inspired the solicitation.

The Federal Acquisition Institute was established in 1976 under the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act and charged with fostering and promoting the development of a federal acquisition workforce.

The idea of acquisition apps, said FAI's solicitation, is to give federal acquisition workers a place to experiment virtually with techniques and strategies, reinforcing their knowledge of specific projects without having to deal – right away, at least -- with any real-world consequences.

The solicitation noted that virtual environments provide immersive learning experience and "when coupled with tactile feedback, can simulate real life situations and teach learners how to plan and manage potential issues." More traditional training methods "don't always allow for or even encourage unpredicted courses of actions due to fear of the user making a mistake."

It added that the apps could ease the fiscal strain of rising costs for live training.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group