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Is the acquisition workforce too small -- or too big?

In response to a recent article, a reader has suggested that the Obama administration is trying to solve the wrong problem in government acquisition.

According to the article, Daniel Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement, is focused on rebuilding the federal acquisition workforce. In fact, the administration has proposed $133 million in fiscal 2011 to hire and train new employees in that field.

But rather than invest millions in hiring and training new acquisition employees, the administration should reduce the number of acquisition systems and contracts that need to be managed, says Steve from Chantilly.

“What the government needs is not more people. It needs better people and systems that support and streamline the acquisition process,” Steve writes. “It doesn't need 800 systems and 300 IDIQ contracts. It needs fewer acquisition resources -- not more.”

What do you say?

Posted on Mar 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM

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Reader comments

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 Randolph AFB, TX

Another option may be to use the current trained workforce more efficiently. My position is acquisition coded to require Level II in the Production, Quality and Manufacturing (PQM) functional area. I am certified at Level III in PQM, Level II in Program Management and Level III in Acquisition (Lifecycle) Logistics with 15+ years of acquisition - sustainment experience. Possibly a better awareness of the whereabouts of the certified individuals may help. The data should be listed by certification not be job title or series because I'm actually classified as a GS-1712-XX Training Specialist. Management would not normally look at a training specialist for such credentials.

Thu, Dec 30, 2010 Bob Maryland

The acquisition workforce needs to concentrate on purchasing quality goods and services. Quality is worth paying for and is often neglected in purchasing because it is difficult to define and defend quality based decisions.

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 Jim

The problem is not that the acquisition workforce is too small or too big - but that it is too small and too big at the wrong levels. Too big at the top in policy review areas and 'review and approval' functions; and too small in operations. This happens because we (a) burn out the best operations people; and (b) justify higher grades and more positions for policy and oversight people. Somehow we need to figure out how to reverse that phenomenon.

Tue, Apr 6, 2010 auditor

For Goodness' Sake, please don't decentralize. You are asking for anarchy and duplication of effort. Combine efforts and streamline processes. Plan ahead for segregation of duties. Require rotation and crosstraining of responsibilities. Make "Approvers" actually accountable for knowing what they are signing and what they are buying. Make sure every contract includes penalties for non-compliance and stick to those requirements! If you are assigned to buy an elephant, don't settle for a bottle-nosed dolphin because they are both grayish. That would be a start.

Mon, Apr 5, 2010 Howard DC

How many know just what got us into this mess? With out 30 years in the system then most would be clueless as to what it will take to correct all the "Make the Gov & Gov Acquisition work more like a Corporation" initiatives. Most of our Friends around the Beltway will say “Why hire more people to train when we can provide the Expertise you really need” and continue with business as normal with no intention of making any changes that might restrict their operational flexibility or capability to influence the contracting process. The Institutional knowledge is not readily available to fix this problem and the will to correct it is sporadic at best. – Former CO

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