The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) Army Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office is a one-stop shop for everything acquisition career-related. Your Army DACM Office is responsible for ensuring acquisition career development, talent management initiatives, and Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certification (training, education and experience) of the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW). The AAW consists of approximately 37,000 Army acquisition civilian and military leaders and professionals residing in Army staff offices, Army commands, Army service component commands, program executive offices, and direct reporting units.
The Army DACM Office works directly with the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Acquisition), the Undersecretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) (USD AT&L), and the USD AT&L Human Capital Initiatives (HCI) Office to enable acquisition workforce initiatives and to serve as advocates for the AAW.
No time to lose
JPEO-CBD seeks to reduce acquisition lead time through tailored professional training workshops with DAU by Mr. Jeff Megargel “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu As the Trump administration completes its transition, Better Buying Power may be replaced with something different, but the tenets and goals of acquisition reform will remain largely the same. All program executive offices within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) will be seeking ways to reduce administrative lead time while fielding and maintaining the best quality equipment and services possible within resource constraints. The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) has partnered with Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Mission Assistance to sponsor a series of workshops designed specifically to improve acquisition timelines. The curricula are intended for pre-milestone A or B program teams of Acquisition Category (ACAT) III programs but can be tailored to any effort. They focus on understanding contracting and applying that understanding to achieve superior contract vehicles and contractor performance. Other workshops allow credentialed DAU instructors and program teams to immerse themselves in developing exceptional solicitation documentation and finding ways to reduce the administrative burden by eliminating oversight that is appropriate for ACAT I programs but overkill for the ACAT III efforts that make up the bulk of the JPEO-CBD’s portfolio. The JPEO-CBD is in the second year of this program and recently offered the curricula to other PEOs across ASA(ALT). WORKING STEP BY STEPThe JPEO-CBD has partnered with DAU Mission Assistance to conduct tailored workforce development workshops throughout the procurement cycle. (Source: JPEO-CBD) CONTRACTING AS A WEAPON Doug Bryce, joint program executive officer, is convinced that program managers must have more than a fundamental knowledge of contracting in order to influence contracting-related decisions that impact their programs. “Far too often, the program management team throws their input over the wall to the contract team, and 24 months later we have a contract,” Bryce said. “This leads to the ‘contract of the day’ approach. The key is to use the right contract type and incentives for the program.” With this goal in mind, Bryce directed his staff to reach out to DAU to create a “Contracting for Program Managers” workshop that orients newly assigned program management personnel to the art and science of government contracting. The topics include contracting strategies, types of contracts, incentivizing contractor performance, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, and how it is all related to DOD Instruction 5000.02, “Operation of the Defense Acquisition System.” The intent is not to create contracting experts, but to establish a level of understanding that facilitates proactive engagement with the contracting community as the program management team plans acquisition strategies. The JPEO-CBD also has assigned former civil service contracting professionals to each program office. They assist in developing acquisition packages and liaise with their peers in the supporting contracting activities. This enables the program teams to collaborate with contracting subject matter experts who are also fully vested in program acquisition strategies. The result of this collaboration is acquisition packages that require far less rework between the acquisition and contracting shops, as well as procurement strategies that are more tailored to a specific requirement versus one size fits all. The JPEO-CBD also has sponsored several workshops on contract incentives, with a DAU subject matter expert providing a comprehensive review of contract incentives and their appropriate use in acquisition programs. After completion of the workshop, everyone understands the fundamentals of how and when to incentivize contractor performance, when cost or fixed-price incentive contracts are appropriate and, most importantly, how to discuss contract incentives with the contracting professionals during formulation of acquisition and procurement strategies. Bryce requires new start programs to complete a streamlined acquisition strategy development workshop well before milestone A. The workshop brings together program teams, functional staff and user community stakeholders to address major topic areas for development and potential streamlining of their program acquisition strategy. The DAU instructor tailors the workshop to one program and encourages the optimal levels of participation from the stakeholder community. This always includes the contracting officer and specialist, but also can include budget analysts, legal advisers, small business advocates and technical specialists who might only engage for selected topics. As an example, the workshop conducted for the Enhanced Maritime Biological Detection (EMBD) program included participants from the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. Representing the Navy user community, they provided insight concerning the challenges of upgrading a legacy sensor system on a surface platform, including compatibility with other shipboard systems and fielding the systems in line with deployment schedules. Over several iterations, the program teams have universally praised the workshops for facilitating an immersive environment where the team can work as a team and develop critical thinking skills and ideas that are directly relevant to reducing the administrative burden as they develop and gain approval for ACAT III program acquisition strategies. The lectures cover multiple topics that must be addressed in the acquisition plans, including risk management, affordability, should-cost and supportability. Immediately following the lecture, the teams “murder board” each topic as it relates to their program: Small teams address each topic and document any assumptions, constraints, risk mitigations and proposed solutions on a big sheet of butcher block paper. At the end of the session, each team briefs their findings to the workshop as a whole. The program team members can tear off the page and carry their brainstorming back to their workspaces for refinement and inclusion in formal documentation. DOUBLE TEAMINGThe JPEO-CBD and DAU have developed workshops that empower program teams to accelerate schedules and reduce costs while maintaining high standards of capability delivery. (Source: U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center/chipstudio/iStock) “The workshop is very helpful in breaking down the components of the acquisition strategy into manageable parts,” said Michele Parrish, EMBD team lead. In some cases, the workshops have revealed the need for additional market research or more detailed analysis of data rights provisions. In others, the teams have identified how contracting methodologies can have a major impact upon reducing documentation requirements. For instance, using existing multiple-award contract vehicles often is more efficient than creating a new contract vehicle specific to one requirement. The assumed duration to complete all the steps necessary to award the typical stand-alone single award contract today is 18 to 24 months. But many program teams are unaware that they have access to existing contract vehicles that can reduce procurement schedules by months. They just need this input early enough that it can be incorporated into the acquisition strategy. Workshops can make teams aware of this benefit. NONTRADITIONAL APPROACHES JPEO-CBD’s portfolio contains a number of programs that are suited for procurement within the commercial marketplace, including vaccines and specialized textiles. As a result, the JPEO-CBD has established an other transaction authority (OTA) consortium in procuring vaccines and therapeutic drugs. “Companies that have never participated in a FAR-based procurement are now in line to support multiple Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program requirements,” said Gary Wright, director of the JPEO-CBD Contracting Management Office. The Joint Project Manager for Protection is also using an OTA to work with manufacturers of specialty fabrics and materials. The project office is seeking advanced chemical and biological protection ensembles and design concepts that might be used in handwear, footwear and respiratory protection systems. Companies that produce cutting-edge technologies might not be willing to conform to accounting practices or other regulations that are mandatory for participation in DOD programs. For instance, maintaining a compliant accounting system is extremely expensive, but the revenue that results from a given DOD program may be immaterial in a company’s overall income stream. OTA agreements allow such companies to provide prototypes for the JPEO-CBD programs without having to meet the many regulatory requirements of an arrangement governed by the FAR. To implement and sustain the consortium, the JPEO-CBD created two workshops that enabled potential program teams to leverage OTAs. The training is divided into an introductory workshop that allows program teams to test the waters and an advanced workshop that goes through the detailed process for establishing and managing an OTA program. In January, DAU conducted two basic workshops at U.S. Special Operations Command using the JPEO-CBD sponsored curriculum. One was tailored to the contracting community and the second for the program managers. The OTA training “was perfect to help expand our horizons and develop a full acquisition tool set,” said Col. John Reim, program executive officer for special operations forces – warrior. “… I suspect that you will be hearing more from SOF AT&L [special operations forces acquisition, technology and logistics] in the near future for additional information and lessons learned.” The JPEO-CBD also offers workshops that are focused on developing high-quality solicitation documentation and training government personnel to serve on source selection evaluation boards. The RFP development workshop capitalizes on the work already completed by acquisition teams but blends in the best practices as presented by DAU. The DAU instructors have the benefit of observing program teams across DOD and can offer lessons learned as they lead the team through refinement of its documentation. For instance, despite the best efforts of contracting and program management personnel, some solicitations require multiple amendments following release as a result of industry feedback and questions regarding the documentation. Borrowing from industry practice, the Joint Project Manager for NBC Contamination Avoidance adopted a process in which a senior contracting expert performs a formal crosswalk between the draft solicitation sections, including the Statement of Work (Section C), Instructions to Offerors (Section L) and the Evaluation Criteria (Section M). The emphasis is placed upon ensuring that statements of work reflect performance specifications and that instructions to offerors and evaluation criteria are optimized to ensure that the government procures the right solutions for its acquisition needs. Using this process, the program team corrects the draft documentation before it goes to the contracting activity. Normally, these major sections of a solicitation are prepared by two completely different interests: The acquisition team generates the statement of work and the performance specification, but the contracting officer generates sections L and M—often weeks if not months later. The workshop seeks to complete all major sections in a deliberate and fully integrated environment. The result is less confusion among offerors when they prepare proposals; more realistic cost proposals as offerors are less likely to mitigate risks through management reserves; and better performing programs post-award because the government and the winning offerors have a clearer understanding of what the program really needs to provide the capability to the warfighter. After the solicitation is released and before receipt of proposals, the JPEO-CBD’s source selection evaluation boards conduct a practice evaluation of the proposals using the actual solicitation documentation. The source selection workshop (DAU Course WSC 005) covers the roles of each member of the board, drafts practice source-selection decision documentation, and has the team conduct mock debriefs given to unsuccessful offerors. Finally, the JPEO-CBD and DAU are providing the Acquisition Program Transition Workshop (DAU course WSM 011) that brings the government program team and the winning offeror’s program team together to reach a common understanding of the government’s expectations and the contractor’s understanding of how the contract will be managed. According to Ashton Carter, former secretary of defense: “The benefits of this workshop include early alignment of government and industry team organizations, publication of roadmaps to integrated baseline review and other near-term planning events, agreement on management of scope and processes, and resolution of issues including differences in interpretation of contracts and other documents.” Throughout the workshop, DAU instructors leverage best practices they have observed across DOD. In nearly all cases, there are opportunities to improve the quality of deliverables—such as monthly cost reports or administrative processes—simply by demonstrating how a company uses automated tools and skilled employees to accomplish the same tasks on other contracts. There is opportunity for open dialogue that enables the company to demonstrate the value-added aspects of its reporting and to tailor the soft deliverables—e.g., monthly cost reports or government-furnished property inventories—based upon what the contracting officer’s representative can really use. This workshop provides a forum in which the government can meet face to face with its counterparts to emphasize the need to manage program risks and establish an effective methodology to leverage the contractor’s capabilities while meeting the government’s expectations. CONCLUSION Although Better Buying Power may be replaced with new direction for achieving acquisition objectives, the basic tenets will remain the same. The JPEO-CBD has demonstrated that PEOs can tailor DAU expertise to achieve material results at the program level. The key is to leverage the knowledge resident at DAU to tailor training for each program team depending upon where it is in the acquisition cycle, and then conduct the workshops in an immersive environment where teams can concentrate on producing quality results in collaboration with functional staff and technical experts. The JPEO-CBD is planning a full calendar in FY18, including workshops for all PEOs across ASA(ALT). It is the JPEO-CBD’s desire to conduct multiple iterations of the training in the five geographic areas where the PEOs are concentrated. The Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support already has requested a streamlined acquisition strategy development workshop in the Warren, Michigan, area this summer. Some of the curricula, including the OTA workshops, are appropriate for any agency within DOD and beyond. For more information, contact the author at email@example.com, or go to https://www.jpeocbd.osd.mil/ or https://www.dau.mil/consulting-services/. JEFF MEGARGEL is a former Marine Corps contracting officer and vice president with Science Applications International Corp. He is currently supporting the JPEO-CBD Contracting Management Office as an employee of Moss Cape, LLC. He holds an M.S. in contract and acquisition management from the Naval Postgraduate School and specializes in assisting program teams develop contracting strategies. Related links DAU Mission Assistance WSC 005 Source Selection WSM 011 Acquisition Program Transition Workshop This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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A different way of doing business
CERDEC’s talent management initiative incorporates a new, enterprisewide approach to help employees reach their goals while strengthening the organization. by Mr. John S. Willison Two years ago, the U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) faced an unpleasant reality: More than 30 percent of our almost 2,000 government employees were eligible to retire or would be soon. Taking steps to address that challenge proactively, we launched a succession management initiative. But a growing realization that talent management was the key to strengthening the workforce prompted us to expand our focus. It is easy—and common—for an organization to declare that “people are our most important asset.” It is significantly more challenging and more meaningful for an organization to develop, implement and maintain an enterprise talent management strategy that embodies that claim. The future of the organization, and the foundation of our ability to deliver capabilities never before imagined by Soldiers, are rooted firmly in our ability to attract, develop and retain talent. Over the past two years, CERDEC dedicated significant executive attention and resources to putting in place such a strategy, which we continue to refine. The intent of the talent management initiative is to treat the recruitment and development of our employees as a top priority for CERDEC. Further, we intend to invest in the workforce and maximize the number of qualified employees to fill all positions. We believe the key to this is to have clear, standard qualifications published for all positions and to have career development plans for all employees. These and other tenets of the initiative will guide every aspect of talent management at CERDEC and will serve as the foundation upon which we build a qualified and engaged workforce. DEFINING DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS Two of the key components of our talent management initiative are talent management plans (TMPs) and domains. TMPs detail the requirements of positions, including the duties they entail and the qualifications expected to be successful. These include mandatory technical qualifications; areas of emphasis, such as business acumen, leadership and soft skills; and other requirements, such as acquisition certification, security clearance and financial disclosure. We define the second component, domains, as technical, business or other disciplines that require a certain knowledge, skill set or educational proficiency. These are similar to the Army career programs and acquisition career fields in that they provide CERDEC employees with recommended training, education and experience for each career level (junior, midcareer and senior) within each domain. We categorized the work performed by CERDEC employees into seven technical domains and 10 business domains. (See Figure 1.) ORGANIZING TALENT REQUIREMENTSCERDEC categorized the work performed by its employees into domains focused on a technical skill or business function, which require proficiency in specific subjects. Clearer requirements help managers guide employees to the right experience and education, and make it easier to zero in on the right applicant for a new position. (Graphic courtesy of U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center and CERDEC) The technical domains include cyber, networking, radio frequency and power, with subcategories that further define the work, called technical specialties and capability specialties. Technical specialties are those that are largely common across related organizations or functional areas and are taught in academia; capability specialties are those that are unique to DOD and the Army, and typically specific to an organization or functional area. The business domains include financial and resource management, contracts and acquisition, security and human resources. The business domains have subdomains that further define the work. For example, the two subdomains for financial and resource management are budget operations and financial operations and controls. The domain descriptions, associated career development and staffing plans provide managers and employees access to position requirements and recommended training, education and experience; inform training and development decisions; allow management and human resource divisions to better plan for the investment of time and funds; enhance the skills of our workforce; and better communicate expectations to potential external applicants for positions within CERDEC. In addition to the technical and business domains, we created career development recommendations for those who are or aspire to become supervisors or team leaders. This was done to encourage development of the unique skills necessary for success in such positions early in an employee’s career. It is our intent to ground all human resource efforts in our talent management initiative, including recruiting, career development and performance management. MEASURES OF PROGRESS After two years of hard work, we are beginning to realize the fruits of the talent management initiative. For example, we are using the TMPs and domain definitions to complete a comprehensive review of the job descriptions of all 2,000 employees, with the goal of ensuring that the duties therein accurately reflect the work assigned and, most importantly, include the proper domain designation. The domain designation is critical to the next step, which involves revising Individual Development Plans to include the domain-specific training and development opportunities recommended by the teams of subject matter experts and outlined in the domain career development plans. The next step is a review and validation of employee performance plans to ensure that CERDEC is measuring employees against defined expectations that represent the duties appropriate to the position’s assigned domain. While it is too early to assess the full impact of this initiative, some key outcomes associated with these steps include the ability for all employees to assess their progress in developing themselves, compared with the comprehensive development plan for their position’s assigned domain, as well as for any positions to which they aspire; the ability for supervisors to make more informed recommendations about employee development; CERDEC’s ability to make more informed and cost-effective investments in training and development; and the ability to more effectively communicate job requirements and development opportunities to applicants and prospective employees. (See Figure 2) STEPS TO A STRONGER WORKFORCETwo years into its talent management initiative, CERDEC is seeing a number of benefits at all levels of the organization. For example, the TMPs and domain definitions have allowed for a comprehensive review of job descriptions. Now CERDEC is applying this newly developed framework to refine employees’ Individual Development Plans, then to review and validate employee performance plans. (Graphic courtesy of CERDEC) The latter area is where we have realized the most value since the inception of this effort. Specifically, the existence of a talent management plan and a complementary career development plan for the positions we have recruited to fill has resulted in clearly written staffing plans. Those, in turn, have generated better referral lists, according to CERDEC supervisors who have filled the positions. We have also received positive feedback from employee focus groups, specifically about the perceived value of defined career development guidance being readily available to all employees so they don’t have to rely exclusively on a supervisor or mentor. Rather, they can chart their own path toward their career goals, guided by the plans now available to them. We believe these early results are indicative of the initiative’s positive long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain talent. In addition to making the talent management plans and career development plans available to employees, we finalized and approved a Workforce Career Development Program Handbook, which outlines the overall intent and the roles and responsibilities of all involved. The handbook, combined with the more detailed TMPs and domain documents, will help our employees take actionable steps in their career pursuits and better understand the philosophy behind this effort. The handbook will also encourage the evolution of our culture to fully embrace talent management. ANTICIPATED BENEFITS We have already seen a benefit in streamlining, standardizing and communicating our recruitment actions. We anticipate similar benefits in our performance management practices, particularly with regard to greater consistency in plans, ease in measuring performance outcomes and the perception of greater parity in performance evaluations and employee recognition as grounded in measurable objectives. Shifting to a more enterprise-based approach to planning and executing training will allow us to ensure that all training aligns with the domain career development plans, is the best and most cost-effective available to meet the targeted need, and is scheduled so as to capitalize on economies of scale, thereby maximizing the return on our investment in employees. Concurrent with this effort, we initiated a centerwide climate survey, using the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, with the goal of applying the feedback from the survey to assess and enhance employee engagement at CERDEC. The feedback we received from employees has validated the importance of some of the very things that served as the impetus for this effort, particularly the need to place our employees at the center of our focus through a viable, enterprisewide, enduring talent management strategy. We will continue to use this survey to inform decisions about our workforce and refine our talent management strategy. INITIAL FEEDBACK: POSITIVEThe author describes the new talent management initiative to employees. In focus groups, employees have rated the first phases of the initiative positively, noting that organizationwide guidance about the requirements of each job gives employees a way to manage their careers without having to rely entirely on a supervisor or mentor. (Photo courtesy of CERDEC) CONCLUSION When my career with the Army started almost 31 years ago, I would have appreciated having a clearly defined set of career paths and decision points on which to base my own plans. The input from our survey and employee focus groups demonstrates that our employees are seeking the very same thing, and we are now able to provide that information as an enterprise. I am confident that our team’s hard work will dramatically improve the effectiveness of our organization’s recruitment and retention efforts. With that, CERDEC will be able to demonstrate consistently that our people truly are our most important asset. For more information, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @STCDDir. MR. JOHN S. WILLISON, a member of the Senior Executive Service since 2011, is director of CERDEC’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, where he leads more than 750 civilian, military and contractor scientists, engineers and support staff. Willison earned his M.S. in software engineering from Monmouth University and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Lafayette College. He also completed the Harvard Senior Executive Fellows program and recently became a certified executive coach, completing George Mason University’s Leadership Coaching for Organizational Well-Being program. This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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AcqDemo and upcoming improvements significantly empower acquisition organizations and their teams to focus on contributing to successful execution of the acquisition mission. by Mr. Jerold A. Lee The most significant changes to the Department of Defense Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project (AcqDemo) since its inception will be coming in 2018. “These additions and improvements in AcqDemo are the result of a deliberative (over two years) process undertaken by the AcqDemo office in collaboration with participating organizations in all of the services,” said René Thomas-Rizzo, director of Human Capital Initiatives in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)). For those who are participating in AcqDemo, the new provisions will be welcome news. For organizations considering joining AcqDemo, the new provisions may just close the deal. “These changes position AcqDemo for the future and for growth,” Thomas-Rizzo said. The proposed changes, which are being finalized within DOD, are wide-ranging. They affect everything from reducing the number of “contribution factors” in the Contribution-Based Compensation and Appraisal System (CCAS) from six to three, to new direct-hire authorities, which include an internship program. ACQDEMO 101 Created by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 1996 fiscal year, designed in 1998 and implemented with the publication of the Federal Register notice on Jan. 8, 1999, AcqDemo has been updated several times over the years. But those amendments were minor compared with those anticipated for FY18. AcqDemo is an acquisition-based alternative human resource (HR) management pay and personnel system that provides managers and organizations with increased flexibility in recruitment, staffing, classification, performance management, compensation and employee development. The purpose of the project is to enhance the quality, professionalism and management of the DOD acquisition workforce through improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness and agility of the human resource management system. AcqDemo not only provides a system that retains, recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions, but also supports their personal and professional growth as acquisition specialists and professionals. In addition, the demonstration project provides managers, at the lowest practical level, the authority, control and flexibility they need to achieve effective workforce management, quality acquisition processes and superior products. Part of retention and motivation is, of course, compensation, and AcqDemo ties compensation of the workforce directly to individuals’ contributions to their organization’s mission. This is in stark contrast to the General Schedule (GS) system, which compensates employees more on the basis of longevity and performance. For those employees in defense acquisition organizations participating in AcqDemo, the system is more beneficial than the General Schedule in large part because of the flexibility to compensate employees based on the value of their contributions to the mission. “The General Schedule is very rigid in terms of [career] progression,” said Sandra Brock, deputy director of the Army AcqDemo Program, which manages the Army’s implementation and sustainment of AcqDemo. “Salary increases in the General Schedule are given for performance (quality step increases) and longevity. By virtue of longevity, every year—or two years or three years, depending on your step in the General Schedule—you get a step increase as long as you’re doing well,” said Brock. And when a GS employee is at the top step of the grade, there is no available step increase. That is not the case with AcqDemo, because of its salary “broadbands,” each of which is a grouping of grades. The AcqDemo broadbands increase the maximum salary, as shown in a comparison of the 2017 GS and the AcqDemo pay tables. (See Figure 1.) MORE ROOM TO ADVANCEA comparison of the 2017 GS and AcqDemo pay tables illustrates the greater flexibility afforded by the AcqDemo broadbands, which increase the maximum salary for a given position. The General Schedule, by comparison, creates rigidity in career progression. (Graphics by U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center and Jerold A. Lee, Army AcqDemo Program) The General Schedule has 15 grades, GS-1 to GS-15, with 10 salary “steps” in each. Progression from one GS grade to the next, with each grade progression requiring a “promotion,” can depend on a lot of variables. For example, a job may be classified as a GS-6 slot, based on its position description, and the organization can’t just change the job to GS-7. Contrast that to AcqDemo, which uses position requirement documents instead of position descriptions. Instead of hundreds of different position labels, AcqDemo has three career paths; instead of 15 pay grades, it has three or four broadband levels in each career path. The greatest flexibility of AcqDemo is in the broader pay bands. If that same GS-6 were in the NK II broadband, for example, the manager could increase compensation based on an employee’s contribution results through the CCAS pay pool panel process. The flexibility of AcqDemo is also in the ability to shape the workforce to meet “required skills and knowledge,” as the original Federal Register notice in 1999 noted. “The current personnel system [GS] is unable to adapt the workforce rapidly to changing needs. This demonstration project provides more flexibility to shape workforce capability and size as needed,” Brock said. The system provides for three types of appointments: permanent; temporary limited, not to exceed two years; and modified term, up to five years with the possibility for a one-year extension for a total of six years. A CONTRIBUTION-BASED SYSTEM Contribution-based compensation starts with the premise that pay should be based on an employee’s contributions to the organization’s mission. So the measurement isn’t only whether the employee accomplished specific tasks. Rather, it’s about what the individual’s efforts contributed to the mission. “For the AcqDemo community,” Brock said, “it’s how well did you contribute to the mission of the organization? Then, based on that and the value of the position, are you appropriately compensated?” For participating AcqDemo organizations, perhaps the most significant upcoming change is streamlining the contribution factors from six to three. (See Figure 2.) The contribution factors are the criteria that employees and supervisors use to enumerate and evaluate annual contributions. HALF AS MANY FACTORSAmong the changes coming to AcqDemo in FY18, perhaps the most significant is the streamlining of AcqDemo contribution factors, the criteria that define and help measure an employee’s yearly contributions to the successful execution of the organization’s mission. In a significant change in authority, the FY17 NDAA moved AcqDemo from under the auspices of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to the secretary of defense. The significance of that, said Steve Edsall, AcqDemo deputy program manager, is that “along with authority and accountability, it provides DOD more flexibility to implement improvements to AcqDemo.” AcqDemo Program Manager Scott Wortman agreed. “It’s significant because, rather than having to go through DOD and then OPM, now the secretary of defense has the authority to make the changes. However, we’ve shared with and leveraged OPM expertise.” The upcoming changes have been reviewed by OPM. “OPM’s input was helpful and incorporated,” Edsall said. In addition to the major change from six to three factors, there are many other improvements and new features. The most significant anticipated changes are in the categories of recruitment and staffing, pay administration and employee development. RECRUITMENT AND STAFFING Direct-hire authorities—Hiring managers in participating organizations will have the option of making on-the-spot tentative job offers to candidates at recruiting events when using a noncompetitive or direct hiring authority. That includes on-the-spot offers to qualified candidates who have a degree required by OPM or DOD standards covering acquisition positions, or qualified candidates in direct support of acquisition positions in a critical acquisition career field. Direct-hire authorities also include hiring veteran candidates for acquisition positions in a critical acquisition career field in the business and technical management professional career path or the technical management support path. Additionally, hiring managers will have authority to make direct-hire appointments of acquisition student interns. Managers can offer intern positions to recent graduates in a critical career field. Managers also will be able to offer acquisition intern appointments to undergraduates who have not yet completed their studies in a field directly linked to an acquisition position’s requirements for one of the critical career fields. “We call this our version of the Pathways [federal hiring] program,” Wortman said, “which we think will provide improved benefit for the acquisition community.” He added that this major improvement will enable participating organizations to “make direct offers and bring [candidates] in, and put them into a program to advance them in their careers.” “Direct-hire authority doesn’t apply to the administrative support career path, which accounts for only 2 percent of the AcqDemo workforce,” Wortman said. MASTERING THE FINER POINTSHR personnel—in the foreground, Gerard Calvin, HR specialist, and in the background from left, Willie Barber, lead HR specialist; Tammy Knox, supervisory HR specialist; and Lorraine Kamaal, HR specialist—receive updated training in Army AcqDemo policy, processes and procedures at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in May. The four are with the Army Acquisition Workforce Hiring Cell of the Civilian Human Resources Agency, Northeast Region. (Photo by Catherine DeRan, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center) Scholastic achievement appointment— This modification of the existing scholastic achievement appointment makes it available to a wider range of candidates. Rule of many—When there are 25 or fewer candidates for a position, the hiring manager, who knows the subject matter better than HR personnel, will have the option of reviewing all the candidates to find the skills needed. “It gets the pool of candidates to the supervisor much faster, and then the supervisor has complete control of identifying the best candidates,” Wortman said. Voluntary Emeritus Program—This, too, expands an existing part of AcqDemo, opening it up to military and civilian retirees who supported the acquisition workforce but were not in positions that fell under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act. Expanded supervisory and managerial probationary periods—This expanded requirement provides adequate probationary periods for current managers with significant responsibility for major programs. “It gives the organization—and the manager—more time to assess that the candidate can do the job,” Wortman said. If the increased level of responsibility doesn’t work out, the organization can move the new manager back to the previous supervisory or nonsupervisory role. Reduction in force—In the event of a reduction in force (RIF), Wortman said, “we are moving from a longevity-based system of determining our RIF list to using performance as a primary factor.” Although performance has been part of AcqDemo from the beginning, it has never been measured the way that contributions have. This provision changes that, adding a different dimension, and makes CCAS compliant with 10 U.S. Code, Section 1597(f). Expanded detail and temporary promotion authority—This enables managers to fill open positions at a higher level of responsibility with existing employees beyond the current 120-day limit, to as much as one year within a 24-month period. For example, if an employee’s supervisor is on extended leave, that employee in a lower broadband level may be temporarily promoted to a higher level of responsibility, with a higher salary, for six months. At the end of that period, if circumstances require it, that employee could again be temporarily promoted for another six months within the 24-month period. SPREADING THE WORDNAVSEA employees converting to AcqDemo ask questions while attending a program overview at the Washington Navy Yard in July 2016. (Photo courtesy of NAVSEA Public Affairs) PAY ADMINISTRATION Compensation strategy—Participating organizations will have to look at their compensation strategy deliberately, based on “how the market is doing locally, the value of the position to the organization,” Wortman said. “We have cost controls now, but this expectation is adding a level of increased compensation strategy to what we’re doing. It’s really trying to bring more discipline to the program.” Promotions—This provision clarifies whether a move from the GS to an AcqDemo position constitutes a promotion or a reassignment (lateral move). For the purposes of AcqDemo, a permanent or temporary promotion action occurs when a non-AcqDemo federal employee or an AcqDemo employee is selected under competitive or merit promotion procedures for an AcqDemo position in a broadband level with a referenced GS grade or level of work in a higher broadband level than would be appropriate for the federal employee’s current GS grade or the AcqDemo employee’s current broadband level, or a previously held position on a permanent basis in the competitive service. Accelerated compensation for developmental positions (ACDP)—This new provision enables managers to accelerate compensation based on contribution and performance. “It gives managers flexibility at two points during the year. For example, at the midpoint of the appraisal cycle,” Edsall said, “the manager can say [to the employee], ‘OK, we think you’re ready to move to a higher level of contribution,’ because we are a contribution-based system. At that point, they [the manager] can approve a pay raise—up to 10 percent for each midpoint or annual appraisal—within the broadband levels of the developmental position.” So, at two points each year, employees are evaluated for their progress, and a manager is able to give pay raises commensurate with the employee’s level of contribution. In addition, ACDP employees are eligible for the CCAS rating and CCAS payouts (both salary increase and award). This can be used in conjunction with the direct-hire intern program, which makes it much more flexible than Pathways. Supervisory and team lead cash differentials—“This is a big one,” Edsall said. Local commanders can use the differentials as an additional tool to incentivize and compensate supervisors and team leaders as defined by the OPM General Schedule Supervisory Guide or Leader Grade Evaluation Guide in such situations where salary inequities exist between the supervisor’s and nonsupervisory subordinates’ basic pay; when supervisory or team leader positions are extremely difficult to fill; or when the organizational level and scope, difficulty and value of position warrant additional compensation. Based on their needs, organizations can offer incentives to candidates for team lead or supervisory positions with a 5 or 10 percent pay boost above their current salary, depending on their role. “That’s [calculated] off the base pay,” Wortman said, adding, “The provision is essentially intended for highly technical professional people who could assume a supervisory role, but who might not consider taking on a managerial role with all the extra responsibilities but no extra pay.” This cash differential is not permanent and will be reviewed annually as part of the pay pool panel review process. WELCOME TO ACQDEMOGen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, commander of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), addresses the audience at an AcqDemo town hall meeting in May at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in preparation for the transition of approximately 13,000 AFMC employees to AcqDemo in June. The Air Force represents the single largest segment of AcqDemo’s more than 33,600 participants—47 percent—followed by the Army, at 25 percent; the Navy, at 14 percent; and the Marine Corps, at 5 percent, according to OUSD(AT&L) Human Capital Initiatives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Stacey Geiger) Special act awards of $25,000—The acquisition executives for each of the services have the option under this provision to give “special act” awards to employees of participating AcqDemo organizations of not more than $25,000, an increase over the current $10,000 limit. “If you’re in acquisition and you jump a big hurdle or solve a major enterprise problem, it gives the acquisition executive of the service the ability to say, ‘This person really just saved the day or saved millions of dollars,’ ” and reward them commensurately, Edsall said. “Very high score”—This new provision provides scores in the NH, NJ and NK career paths above the current maximum of 100, 83 and 61, respectively, to a very high score of 115, 95 and 70, so that managers have more flexibility in rewarding contributions. It provides increments for NH of 105, 110 and 115; for NJ of 87, 91 and 95; and for NK of 64, 67 and 70. (See Figure 3.) Performance assessment—Although performance has always been a part of AcqDemo, its design has been contribution-focused. Incorporating a separate performance assessment adds another dimension to employee appraisals for a fuller picture. The same criteria used for evaluating contribution will be used to measure performance. THREE DEGREES OF ‘VERY HIGH’By introducing increments to the very high scores in the evaluation of employees’ contributions, AcqDemo will provide managers more flexibility to reward outstanding contributions. EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT Sabbaticals—This provision expands the existing sabbatical provision, which is open to all eligible employees with seven years of federal civilian service, to require a post-sabbatical service requirement that is three times the length of the sabbatical. For example, if an employee takes a six-month sabbatical, the individual has a service obligation of 18 months. Student intern relocation incentive—This incentive gives local commanders or their designees the option to approve relocation incentives for new student interns and to student interns whose work site is in a different location than their college or university or their permanent residence. “Let’s say, for example, there is a student in college in California pursuing an engineering degree, and it’s a very competitive area for technical talent. If you want to attract them to take a student internship on the East Coast, this relocation incentive will help many decide ‘yes.’ This will not only help with attracting top talent for student internships, but also increase our chances with a follow-up top talent hire after graduation,” Wortman said. Edsall added, “Students typically don’t have much money. So if you tell a student you want them to intern with you but then tell them they have to pay their own way, it’s not likely that they’re going to take the job.” CONCLUSION Significant improvements to the Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project are projected to be implemented in 2018. The design improvements are the result of extensive collaboration among OUSD(AT&L) Human Capital Initiatives, the AcqDemo Program Office and organizations participating in AcqDemo across DOD. The last step in finalizing the improvements is the upcoming Federal Register notice process, which will give the public an opportunity to provide input on the changes. Improvements include streamlining of contribution factors from six to three, providing new direct-hire authorities, adding supervisory and team leader cash differentials, simplifying classification standards, providing accelerated compensation for developmental positions, increasing the amounts for special act monetary awards, expanded detail and temporary promotion periods, and more. Planned streamlining improvements and new features will enhance the value of AcqDemo to organizations and their team members as they contribute to successfully execute the acquisition mission. For more information, contact the Army AcqDemo Program Office at 703-805-4512 (DSN 655). For more information on Army AcqDemo training, contact Sandra Brock at email@example.com. MR. JEROLD A. LEE, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is director of the Army AcqDemo Program, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He holds an M.S. in administration from Central Michigan University and a B.S. in business administration from the University of San Francisco. CONTRIBUTORS: Mr. Scott Wortman, DOD AcqDemo program manager, and Ms. Sandra Brock, Army AcqDemo deputy program director. Army AcqDemo Roadshow The Army AcqDemo Program Office plans to train the acquisition workforce on Federal Register changes via an educational tour that will run from this October through March 2018. The Army AcqDemo team will offer training at regional locations where large populations of the participating Army AcqDemo organizations reside. Details will be available in late summer from command-level pay pool administrators or by contacting Sandra Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is published in the July-September 2017 issue of Army AL&T Magazine. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. 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