January 5, 2012 at 1:08 am #148812
If money and time were no object:
Then you just won the lottery, so please stop reading and go enjoy your millions!
Seriously, budget constraints, lack of leadership support, and lack of time due to workload and staff shortages are always common issues for both federal procurement personnel, and industry. But, if they were not impediments:
1) What kind of training would you like to take?
2) What issues do you have with current training offerings, either with federal or commercial vendors?
3) What would be your recommendation to improve training the federal acquisition workforce?
4) How could these offering be provided so that budgets and time are not factors?
January 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm #148830
John van SantenParticipant
1) a HBS-method using real acquisitions as case studies; having students make key determinations (as the IPT did) and role playing to a conclusion against a provided skilled team representing the contractor – looking only at the end result of the negotiation (don’t care how we got there; was the result similar to the real world result?)
2) mixed classes of skills, backgrounds, and motivation; government personnel have to role-play the contractor side (often without any real-world experience in private industry); presenters inject their bias (or are required to) during the process and the end-result is less important than everyone gets there the way the course intended. Too few dissections of real acquistions and too many contrived role-plays. Not enough opportunities to train (what if airline pilots only saw a simulator once a year or so?), not much done online with an AI/KMS (sorry DAU, you try VERY hard). Commercial vendors have to mimic DAU/FAI courses or the variations would kill common understanding, so it’s more of the same.
3) Can partake in real procurements via a backchannel offered by agency Acquisition Services USG-only social network (whose contents may or may not be incorporated as the KO sees fit); AI/KMS simulations based on a wide-variety of real procurements to test your (contracting) wits against (DAU used to have a contracting question of the week, but it wasn’t updated very often and was often arcane) whenever one wants; the full-range of acquisition responsibilites should be modeled (FAC-P/PM and FAC-COR are much less developed than FAC-C in training materials, role-playing, online training, simulations, etc).
4) more work online. Aircraft simuators are hyper-realistic; contracting, program management, COR training can and should be also; No reason not to shadow actual procurements and advise (crowsourcing SMEs).
January 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm #148828
John – Do you think a mixture of more relevant training would be more effective? By that I mean some of the materials are required to follow certain guidelines, and not deviate from the prescribed curriculum for learning (i.e. FAC P/PM curriculum). Also, these types of courses need to be standardized, to the degree that generalized concepts and learning takes place across the students. Tis is especially true of less experienced personnel.
I agree with the need for more online training, in addition to better quality training. Perhaps combine the concept of “Ask a Professor” for online courses, similar to DAU’s ACC?
The use of the Acquisition 2.0 environment (wiki, facebook, perhaps even something on GSA.Interact.Gov) might be a way to increase crow sharing and knowledge transfer.
January 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm #148826
John van SantenParticipant
I believe that person with a BSEE from the University of California, Berkeley took different classes than a person with a BSEE from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but they both took classes covering the same fundamentals (Ohm’s Law, calculus, physics…). In the sense that the expectations for USG contracting personnel are not widely understood and demand is not pervasive, I believe that there certification for FAC-C/DAWIA is the best model – five standard core courses, same content by all vendors, including DAU/FAI, one or two electives, requirment for so-many continuous learning units annully. I wish that tracking was centralized, so that training pedigrees were traceable and applicable in any agency or defense organization a person ended up working in. My suggestions were (not clearly stated) to be voluntary “love-of-learning” training – to use the academic coursework and apply it to realworld simulation and/or advise realworld procurements (crowdsourcing). The learning comes from the actual procurement proceeding, where a DAU/FAI liason translates actual procurment actions into documented form that participants can follow and can be easily added to an Artificial Intellegence (AI)/Knowledge Management System (KMS) as an online simulation, where the crowdsourced ideas are stored as possible variants but the actual IDP/KO actions are also stored (as ‘the Golden Path”), culminating in the actual result (length of the procurement, the milestones, outputs at each stage, the award, even the management of the contract (corrective actions and termination) – the details need to be masked to prevent identification of the guilty, but this would be a joint effort between agency Acquisition Services and FAI/DAU to develop based on actual procurements – the agency would suffer no increase in workload to allow realtime participation or in creation of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) case-study/simulation.
While I read Acquisition 2.0, I don’t participate and it is more about philosophy than actual procurements.
January 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm #148824
Great feedback and suggestions. Thank you John.
January 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm #148822
Great suggestions, Jaime and John.
My understanding from talking with FAI leadership is that they are pursuing a model with their FAC-P/PM and FAC-COR certifications that is very similar to John’s UC-Berkely/UIUC analogy. That is, they’re laying out overarching certification requirements and learning objectives that all training vendors must meet to have FAI-compliant material, but that they then allow the individual vendors (universities, in John’s example) to achieve those learning objectives according to their own curricula.
Now as I’m a senior manager at a training vendor, I am admittedly somewhat biased, but one of the problems with the FAC-C certification, in my opinion, is that it is so tightly regulated by DAU/FAI, which leaves little room for curriculum innovation. This commoditization of the curriculum leaves vendors to compete primarily on price in the FAC-C space.
John’s suggestion of using more case-based, HBS-like simulations is a good one, as the classroom is a great “safe environment” to explore, try, make mistakes, and learn. I think a solution where FAI invests in some case or simulation development, which is made mandatory GFI for all vendors to use in their classes, would both create a more standardized curriculum across learning organizations, while still leaving vendors the room to innovate and compete on quality, efficiency, and creativity.
January 11, 2012 at 4:03 am #148820
I’m on the research side for acquisitions and actually do some of the research that supports future training, education programs at NIGP. From a very basic perspective there are a few things that I believe would help anyone that is working in acquisitions.
1) Advanced training in Microsoft Excel – let’s face it…this isn’t taught in college unless you were a science major. Any good contracting officer needs to know how to manipulate massive amounts of data. It is crucial for performing any sort of analysis (e.g. life cycle cost, lease vs. buy). It is also critical tracking and cleansing any kind of spend data, and for analyzing survey data (e.g. customer satisfaction). I’ve met people that can take piles of data and clean it up in a matter of minutes in excel. This one is on my list for this year! Yes it is expensive, but what if we found a few great mentors who were willing to teach new acquisition professionals at one of the annual conference workshops!
2) Ever sat in a worthless meeting? I have. Hands down an acquisition professional MUST be able to facilitate meetings, made decisions, and resolve disputes. Why not do it in a more effective manner? I hate meetings where nothing gets done, where no decisions are made, or where everyone leaves mad in a stalemate. Hands down the best training I have ever had was from the Public Sector Consortium. The class was a 2 day seminar that taught effective Facilitative Leadership skills. Honestly, training like this will be a requirement for anyone that works under me in the future.
These suggestions are basic, but I hope it helps to have a fresh perspective.
January 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm #148818
Candace – Basic is just another word for practical, and these suggestions are interesting. I am a big advocate of automation, and feel that every contracting shop needs to have a current, automated contract solution that can be used for contract formation and administration. Until that day happens, which is not anytime soon, we are stuck with organizations that are using antiquated system for everything, with no standardization, and of course downloading everything to Excel. You can not download data from any federal entity these days that is not in Excel format, and the IGCEs developed that I have seen over the last few years have all been Excel. I do not believe this training will be necessarily more expensive than other training, but perhaps the normal Excel 101 courses offered by many commercial vendors (i.e. Learning Tree) can be tailored to be Excel 101 for Government.
Any manager and future leader should have this facilitation course you mention and leadership training as a mandatory requirement. Can you imagine the hours wasted over the years in worthless meetings?
January 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm #148816
I love leadership and personal development courses!
I would also like some SAS and SQL server training and GIS 🙂
Variety is the spice of life…
January 13, 2012 at 12:50 am #148814
Indeed! What specific personal development courses? You mentioned leadership, but what other personal development course would you like to take or see offered that would be applicable to your position?
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