April 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm #96628
It’s my general feeling that acquisition training fails to cover certain areas for professionals.
Among these I think they are:
– Filtering and prioritizing lots of info
– Simple tracking techniques (and associated web tech) to monitor a contract’s status (dashboards, programs better than MS Excel and Project)
What are some other areas you would include on this list?
April 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm #96644
I took a number of contracting classes.
I never felt they did a good job telling the tricks of the trade. More just compliance/check box.
Time with a good CO will teach you all the great ways to get things done.
-For example, I never really got good training on GSA GWACs, schedules, and other procurement vehicles outside the department
April 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm #96642
There is a huge amount of training we are expected to pick up on the job, but what if the other people were not properly trained, don’t want to share knowledge, or are just very busy, then new people never get the right training. I am very glad I work with a great group of people who don’t mind sharing when they have time, but, I am a lucky one. Proper training in our field is not what it should be. Before anyone gets into this field, they need to know they will need outstanding mutil tasking abilities, and be able to understand a contract from the clouds, not just from one spot in time. I see it alot where some people have a hard time understanding Intent, and never asking the hard questions from the customers.
** Contracting people need to learn to “chill” over their contracting work. I just spent 2 days on a contract that got cancelled, and yes I was very frustrated, but I got over it. Then I continued to the next contract. I have seen it where some contracting people really stay upset for days over lost work. New contracting people need to know they may work for weeks (and months) on contracts, which in the end just do not work and will get cancelled. They need to learn that sometimes the wasted time is a learning experience, and not really wasted time. Sometimes what you learned through research actually just saved the Government tons of money and it is a good thing the contract was cancelled. That is our job! If a contract gets cancelled because of something we found (what happened to mine), then GREAT, we did a great job!**
April 3, 2010 at 7:34 pm #96640
Very cool insights Amanda. I hadn’t considered your POV on learning to deal with “lost” work.
April 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm #96638
“Lost work” can be mentally draining if not addressed correctly. We are tuaght to take each contract personally, like it is coming out of our own checkbooks, and make it as “clean” as possible. Everything must be as perfect as possible. The CO and CS calls many people, does tons of great research, looks up every policy needed, then for a number of reasons, the requirement is cancelled with just a 5 minute phone call or a simple e-mail.
It is like taking an artist very best work, and right in front of the artist…..shredding it.
But, I am sure you already know this many times over. 🙂 It happens to all of us.
May 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm #96636
Requirements development, contract management, project/program management, business management, and leadership should be the central pillars of training for the acquisition workforce.
May 9, 2010 at 8:38 pm #96634
I took a plane on Friday with a young professional whose first job out of school was as a Macy’s buyer and now is a buyer at TJ Maxx.
To me, it is interesting how cool those jobs were made to her vs being a government buyer.
I’d also love to see how the training differs.
May 10, 2010 at 12:02 am #96632
Hello Amanda: I entered procurements as a contract specialist in 1979 following graduation from law school. For a brief moment I thought my education and experience clerking for a judge and a law firm involved in contract litigation had prepared me to work for a large federal defense contractor. Was I ever wrong.
Everyone was busy with their own work but helped me from time to time. I started a contract administration certificate program at UCLA extension and it was great. This was way before classes were available on line so I drove from Pomona to Westwood twice a week. In case you’re not familiar with Los Angeles that was 90 minutes or more each way.
I still remember the material from these classes and thought that it helped me greatly. If possible take the classes in person. Certificate programs following the recommendations from
NCMA are 8 classes. I wish I could tell you that there are Open Course Ware (OCW) available on line. Alas, I have not found any. What a shame. Best wishes.
May 10, 2010 at 12:07 am #96630
Major was communications.
I agree it’s all about perception. That’s why I think gov’t procurement should work on rebranding to help change the perception.
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