The Lectern: VA takes on the contracting workforce challenge
A number of agencies, recognizing the need to repopulate the contracting workforce, have begun various kinds of hiring and internship programs. I spoke recently with Efrain Fernandez, Ken Buck, and Ford Heard, senior contracting officials at VA -- Efrain and Ken being old friends, while Ford is a new recruit to my 60s rock trivia team to challenge our Kennedy School students -- about the new program that VA will be launching with a class of 30 new recruits in September out of the agency's new Center for Acquisition Innovation. (The Center itself has a great name that sends all sorts of good signals.)
The VA program takes on two of the challenges in developing and retaining a new generation of contracting professionals -- connection with the mission and good job assignments. During the year that new interns spend at the Center for Acquisition Innovation, they will spend time visiting VA hospitals and cemeteries to gain a better appreciation for the veterans they are serving. And the center itself has been given actual contracting responsibility, buying some of the agency's strategic sourcing commodities, purchasing for national emergencies, and undertaking research studies for VA. So the interns will be on teams that are actually purchasing these products and services -- all interesting stuff that gives the interns assignments other than small purchases.
Sounds like the right approach to me.
The application deadline is May 19. The internships are GS-9 positions (which means, unfortunately, that graduating college seniors won't qualify without some relevant work experience. Graduating master's students from the Kennedy School will qualify, but we know from experience it is really, really hard to get them to accept GS-9 positions.)
You can find more information about the internship here.
Posted by Steve Kelman on May 06, 2008 at 12:10 PM