852 Program

Overview

Section 852 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Public Law No. 110-181, directed the establishment of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund (DAWDF). This fund permits the Department of Defense to recruit and hire, develop and train, and retain its Acquisition workforce. The complete language of the law can be found starting at Page 246 here: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:h4986enr.txt.pdf.

The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) is responsible for identifying the Army’s Section 852 initiatives. There are 3 Categories under the Section 852: Training and Development, Retention, and Recruitment; further stratified by eleven line items.

Line Item 1: Training Enhancement and Capacity Expansion. Initiatives in this line item will provide additional Defense Acquisition University throughput, curriculum development and other learning support to meet previously unmet demand. There is a gap between the Components’ demand for certification and assignment-specific training and the capacity of the Defense Acquisition University to provide training. In addition, the Components have identified Component requirements to improve project management, engineering, business and leadership skills.

Line Item 2: Comprehensive Acquisition Workforce and Student Information System. Initiatives in this line item will provide a single clearinghouse for workforce data, the statutorily mandated workforce management information system, and a commercial best-in-class student information system. The objective is to drive standardization, integrate systems, build transparency, and improve data quality, and ensure a comprehensive workforce analysis capability. This will enable strategic workforce planning and decision making capability. This line item will ensure current, accurate and transparent information is available on the Defense acquisition workforce for acquisition leaders.

Line Item 3: Competency Management and Assessments. Initiatives in this line item will provide a standardized competency management program, validated competency models for all career fields, tools to produce individual development plans, the ability to determine training needs, and support for human capital planning. The Department is committed to an enterprise competency management and workforce assessment capability. This will improve the Department’s ability to appropriately identify workforce skill gaps, requirements, and needed learning assets.

Line Item 4: Workforce Planning Pilot Program. This Air Force pilot initiative is being worked with OPM to develop a human capital architecture that includes interview tools, occupational questionnaires, and job previews. If successful, it has the potential to enable acquisition centers to deploy competency-based tools and create organization specific recruitment and retention strategies. A key outcome will be tailored succession plans that will help acquisition organizations transition from their current state to their forecasted “to be” mission.

Line Item 5: Retention and Recognition Incentives. Initiatives in this line item will retain high performers with critical skills and in key leadership positions and improve retention in positions that are in short supply through incentives and programs designed to make a career in DoD acquisition more attractive. The forecasted loss of corporate knowledge and expertise has the potential to significantly impact the ability of the acquisition workforce to carry out its mission of achieving successful acquisition outcomes. It includes retention bonuses, tuition assistance, and student loan payments.

Line Item 6: Career Broadening and Academic Programs. Initiatives in this line item will provide developmental assignments, rotations, programs at academic institutions, training outside one’s current specialization, and opportunities to acquire joint and interagency experience. The legacy career structure for civilian employees has emphasized depth over breadth, which results in a “silo” framework that inhibits the broader perspective needed to manage complex acquisition programs. A more attractive career structure, which will improve retention in the acquisition workforce, is one that provides breadth of experience, training and education.

Line Item 7: Intern Programs. Initiatives in this line item support recruiting, hiring and developing interns to be better qualified at the point of migration into the acquisition workforce. Hiring is primarily focused on engineering and contracting career fields. Seventy-three percent of the current Defense acquisition workforce are in the Baby Boomer and Traditional generations and 19 percent (20,000 civilians) are eligible for full retirement. At the same time, there are skill and competency areas within the current workforce that have too few people and need to be built up.

Line Item 8: Recruiting Incentives. Initiatives in this line item seek to attract qualified applicants in such critically needed areas as Contracting, Cost Estimating, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), minority applicants, and recent college graduates. This complements other hiring initiatives by enabling DoD to more effectively hire high demand talent in an increasingly competitive labor market.

Line Item 9: Outreach Programs. Initiatives in this line item will deliberately market the DoD acquisition community as an employer of choice. It is a DoD goal to maintain a diverse, capable, and ready civilian and military workforce, which this line item will support. According to the Gallup poll conducted for the Council for Excellence in Government, DoD is one of the most attractive brand names in the federal government. However, the acquisition community needs to be more active in reaching out to prospective employees. A preferred approach is to leverage federal, DoD P&R, and Component programs to improve the supply of quality candidates.

Line Item 10: Journeyman Hiring Programs. Initiatives in this line item will target experienced employees, such as retiring military and seasoned industry candidates. Workforce analysis indicates a need for mid-career hires to complement our intern initiatives and to ensure strong bench strength to fill senior and executive positions as the Baby Boomer and Traditional generations depart the workplace.

Line Item 11: Hiring Expert Knowledge – Highly Qualified Experts (HQE). Initiatives in this line item are to hire temporary employees for up to five years. In many cases, there is a need for people with special expertise who are already at a senior level and are recognized experts in an acquisition field or related discipline. HQEs are hired under a special hiring authority granted by Congress. This line item complements other hiring initiatives.

The Army’s Point of Contact for Section 852 efforts is Mr. Jack Kendall, 703-805-1253, john.f.kendall.civ@mail.mil.