WE TALK A LOT ABOUT THE ACQUISITION WORKFORCE. HERE’S WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT
Discussions about how to improve, empower, challenge, engage, compel, propel, or impel the federal acquisition workforce have been around as long as there’s been an acquisition workforce. Already, there are new proposals for the Biden Administration targeted to this crucial, but incredibly diverse, sector of government. Stop the madness. A 2017 Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) study found that there were between 12,400 and 13,000 civilian agency contracting officers in the 1102 series. There are at least a third more inside DOD. That’s well over 20,000 professionals, and that’s just counting people with the “contracting officer” designation. There are tens of thousands of additional workers that comprise the total “acquisition workforce.” Talk about “boiling the ocean”. There is just no way that success is ever going to come by pushing across all fronts at once. In order to have even a chance at (fill in your verb here) any of the acquisition workforce, efforts to do so must be focused. They must even be limited to one or two sectors at a time. Few successful organizations try to reinvent themselves all at once. Most take an incremental, even compartmentalized, approach. So, too, must efforts made at creating the type of acquisition workforce people in both government and industry envision. Whether the effort starts with those primarily involved in weapons systems, services, or commercial item acquisition there needs to be an acknowledgement that change will start somewhere and that other sectors will be addressed on a specific timeline. This phased approach is essentially just what GSA did in consolidating the Multiple Award Schedules. It all got done, and done reasonably well, but it didn’t happen all at once.