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Why contracting officers get no respect (or do they?)

Some federal contracting officers seem to have it better than others.

FCW recently reported on a panel of acquisition officials and experts that said it's tough to recruit new people to the acquisition field. The panelists said contracting officers aren’t what they used to be. Steve Kempf, a GSA acquisition official, said at most agencies contracting officers are seen as less important today than in years passed. The job has less prestige and visibility despite its importance to an agency’s overall success. The officers are simply lower in the food chain.

One reader disagreed completely.

“Contracting Officers are not only important to the mission of these agencies, they have been upgraded from GS-13 to [Senior Executive Service] positions,” wrote ACO, who has worked at SEC, EPA, Labor Department and GPO. Contracting officers are a part of a team that now even includes an agency’s executive staff, ACO added.

“Gimme a break, ACO,” another reader from the Defense Department responded. “You have Contracting Officers that were upgraded from GS-13s to SES positions? Where?" The reader writes there are shortages of people, and interns learn really fast that the acquisition jobs they took aren’t as rosy as the original picture that was painted. Kempf was right on.

In another comment, oracle2world wrote that government purchase cards have always upset contracting officers, because the cards stole the authority that once was only theirs. All of a sudden, there isn’t anything especially magical about the job, oracle2world wrote.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Jun 09, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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