I have a colleague that strongly believes that the composition of the current 1102 workload does not justify the size of the current 1102 workforce. His argument goes something like this–once upon a time 1102s did contracting, 1105s did purchasing, and 1106s performed clerical functions in support of 1102s and 1105s. Since the 1990s, there has been a concerted effort to reduce the number of 1105s and 1106s in the Federal workforce. However, the workload for these folks has not gone away–it’s actually increased. As a result, the 1102 workforce began taking on the 1105/1106 workload, so now we have college graduates doing purchasing and clerical work. This has been the experience for many of my students.
If we take a look at the official classification standards of 1102s, 1105s, and 1106s, we begin to see that the argument has merit. Consider how the 1105 series is officially defined (see OPM Position Classification Standard TS-122, March 1993):
This series includes positions that involve supervising or performing work to acquire supplies, services, and construction by purchase, rental, or lease through (a) delivery orders and/or (b) small purchase procedures. The work requires knowledge of policies and procedures for delivery orders and small purchases. This work also requires knowledge of commercial supply sources and common business practices related to sales, prices, discounts, units of measurement, deliveries, stocks, and shipments.
Now consider the definition of 1106 series (see OPM Position Classification Standard TS-119, September 1992):
This series includes positions that involve performing or supervising clerical and technical work that supports the procurement of supplies, services, and/or construction. Procurement clerks and technicians prepare, control, and review procurement documents and reports; verify or abstract information contained in documents and reports; contact vendors to get status of orders and expedite delivery; maintain various procurement files; resolve a variety of shipment, payment, or other discrepancies; or perform other similar work in support of procurement programs and operations. The work requires a practical knowledge of procurement procedures, operations, regulations, and programs.
Lastly, the definition of the 1102 series states (see OPM Position Classification Standard TS-71, September 1983):
This series includes positions that manage, supervise, perform, or develop policies and procedures for professional work involving the procurement of supplies, services, construction, or research and development using formal advertising or negotiation procedures; the evaluation of contract price proposals; and the administration or termination and close out of contracts. The work requires knowledge of the legislation, regulations, and methods used in contracting; and knowledge of business and industry practices, sources of supply, cost factors, and requirements characteristics.
Given these definitions (which I acknowledge are somewhat dated), what percentage of the current 1102 workload is really 1105 or 1106 work? If it is a high percentage, wouldn’t it make more sense to hire more 1105s and 1106s to free up 1102s so they can do 1102 work? Or, should we continue to hire more college graduates as 1102s and assign them unchallenging work?
I can see both sides of this. I’m new to the 1102 field (2 years) and I do a mixture of 1102 and 1105 work, based on the descriptions above. I don’t mind doing the work that would typically fall under the 1105 series as it can *sometimes* be a nice quick easy task to get your mind off of something larger and more complicated. I think that I’ve been blessed, however, that most of my work falls under the 1102 series work, so it doesn’t seem to be overly burdensome for me to take on the “extra” work. If I found myself in a position where most of my work was 1105 work, I would likely be less than satisfied.
Much like everything else in this field, the solution is “it depends.” Depending on the needs of each contracting shop, I could argue that 1105 and 1106’s should be hired. However, not all shops have the workload to support this.
It is analogous to many of my students or clients that have both PM and COR duties, and can not do either one particularly well because of the inability to focus on one and not try and do both. I absolutely agree about the need to separate and partition this work, so it can be matched to the level of skills, education, and capability needed to perform it. 1102s need to be freed up to do their jobs, in the spirit of doing more with less.
Great question. This is exactly the type of issue that we’re trying to target with our upcoming acquisition survey. Send me your top 5 list here: https://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/top-5-challenges-facing-the-government-acquisition-community as we work to put the survey together.
This is a great question and Tracy and others have made some good points. One of Don’s comments really rings a bell with me and that is that the OPM standards might be a bit dated — I think that might be a key point that goes right along with the fact that there has been a sea-change in what agencies typically buy and how they buy.
Back in the day, purchasing products for the Government’s use, typically consisted of products valued at $10,000 or less that 1105’s could handle as purchasing agents as it required little training. Often the items were brand name items and/or products that someone would have little difficulty in determining if what was delivered met the requirements stipulated in the order. At the same time, most GSA schedules were mandatory sources of supply which didn’t present any issues sourcing competition issues to the purchasing office when they were used. So once again, those duties could be assigned to an 1105.
Jump forward to the present time and for most civilian agencies the vast majority of product purchaes are being handled as a collateral duty in program offices by someone who has purchasing authority tied to a Government Purchase Card either directly open market as micro purchases or as order placed under Strategic Sourcing Contracts established by the agency’s contracting offices. The transactions processed under $100,000 or at higher thresholds under mulitiple award GSA Schedules are largely services requirements which either require a more formal competitive SOW or SOO and some form of evaluation plan or a legally defensible and supportable justification for a non-competitve source selection — thus requiring more training and skill than the traditional 1105 had. So the traditional 1105 duties have largely been wiped-out.
In the 1106 world, automation largely has wiped-out much of that workload as well. Duties like preparing and distributing (by bursting the old 10 part, carbon separated purchase order forms and seeing that everyone got ‘their color coded copy’), typing up a bidders mailing list and xeroxing and mailing RFPs to 150 potential bidders and maintaining thousands of bidders on the office’s master bidders mailing list have largely been subplanted by automation. Don’t get me wrong – there are still keyboarding and related duties at all levels of acquisition but not nearly as labor intensive as in the past.
While this helps explain the differences in the environment, it doesn’t answer the basic question of how many 1102s are really needed — that is a tough call. Entry level 1102s for the forseeable future will likely be asked to handle transactions and duties that in part harken back to the good old days and have roots in 1105 and 1106 duties of the past — the trick is bringing them along with appropriate training and mentoring so that their assignments grow into more complex contractual duties as their careers progress.