The Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in mid-December, would create a graduate program for aspiring acquisition officials. A second bill, the Federal Acquisition Institute Improvement Act, also introduced by Collins with co-sponsors Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah), would give the institute, whose key mission is to promote career development for the civilian acquisition workforce, more visibility in the White House.
One retired acquisition professional notes specific training needs among the current contracting core:
>> lack of basic knowledge and understanding of contracting fundamentals and regulations;
>> lack of first-line quality assurance reviews and training and mentoring;
>> lack of professional, educated responses to bidders/offerors;
>> lack of post-award knowledge to ensure the customer receives quality and timely products and services; and
>> lack of understanding and acceptance that contractors are also part of the “team” and they deserve respect.
The new acts would create and fund a three-year graduate program for people who want to become federal procurement officials. It would enroll 200 students every year through colleges and universities in the Washington area. The program could expand nationwide.
After one year of academic training, students would spend two years of on-the-job and part-time training with federal agencies. At the conclusion of the program, graduates would receive a master’s degree or the equivalent as well as a federal job.