Project of the Week – Strategic Partnership on Acquisition Recruitment Coalition

On Nov 4, GovExec featured an article on SPARC http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/dailyfed/1109/11040

Given the criticality and need for more acquisition resources in government and the need for strategic recruitment, retention and training, I thought I’d provide some highlights from the article. Just as background – if you didn’t know already, the federal government spends approximately $530B annually on goods and services. This accounts for millions of transactions ranging from under a hundred dollars to contracts valued in the billions of dollars. Who buys and how they buy couldn’t be more important. According to FAI, the federal acquisition workforce is about 91,000 people. OMB has recently addressed the contracting workforce in two memos: July 29, 2009 “Improving Government Acquisition” and again on Oct 27 “Acquisition Workforce Development Strategic Plan for Civilian Agen… . DoD has also issued its own Insourcing Guidance and has stated it intends to bring 20,000 acquisition professionals by 2015.

Here are the highlights of the Strategic Partnership on Acquisition Recruitment Coaltion (SPARC) from the GovExec article:

The SPARC is a coalition of representatives of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, the Chief Acquisition Officers Council, the Federal Acquisition Institute, the Defense Acquisition University, and the National Contract Management Association. Their mission is to identify and recruit new people for the federal acquisition workforce. They will be working with universities to create or expand curriculums focused on federal contracting. “Using the resources of the 140 NCMA chapters nationwide, SPARC plans to lobby universities and graduate schools that have existing relationships with the Defense Acquisition University or the Federal Acquisition Institute to begin offering courses that are equivalent to a federal Level 1 certification in contracting.

The coalition said it will focus on recruitment rather than selection and will not propose any changes to human resources policy, said Rinkavage, who also serves as director of acquisition services for Catapult Consultants in Arlington, Va.”

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Amanda Blount

I am glad there are some plans for new Acquisition professinals. Something needs to be done and here is why; I am in class right now with many agencies who all work comp time, overtime, etc just to get the job done. These dedicated professionals will eventually become burned out, especially with the big retirement group who are about to turn 60 and above. The people who are taking the hit will only be able to take it for a certain time, and then some will leave the government for better pay and less hours. The ones who are left behind will continue the cycle of becoming burned out with the extra workload, and they too may leave. We have one person in our office who is very dedicated to his job (construction), yet he is overworked and wants to retire early or work somewhere else. I doubt we will lose him, but this mindset is becoming more and more pronounced in more agencies. I saw with the push of the stimulus funds many people who were already overworked, given more work, and impossible deadlines.

We need new people now, and we need to try to keep the people we already have, at least until the new people are trained. It worries me the brain drain which will occur in the next few years and I am glad to see progress is being made to help now, not later.

Eriko Kennedy

Thanks for posting. Agreed that this is critical need and with resources even more constrained as baby boomers retire/demographic trends and retirement obligations….. Having creative and skilled contracting administration and processes will be vital. Glad to hear the coalition is planning strategically. I have been looking for a fit for a while in the federal govt., but find the on-line application process daunting as mid-career professional. The requirements are limited/targeted to those with specific experience, and does not account for growth or breadth of other replicable skills.
So will look into the coalition recruitment processes….