DACM Corner: Selecting and Developing Acquisition Officers and NCOs

By LTG William N. Phillips

As we continue to build a world-class Acquisition Workforce with military and civilian professionals, we are faced with two equally important requirements: accessing the right skill sets to do the job and advancing career opportunities for the people who work diligently to execute the AL&T mission. All while staying focused on our vital mission to support Soldiers by getting the resources they need into their hands as quickly as possible, a mission in which we cannot fail.

This vital mission is not possible without a robust, highly skilled, and professional AL&T Workforce that includes Acquisition Officers, Noncommissioned Officers, and Army Civilian members. The challenge is accessing and promoting talent to continue to grow our workforce.

Acquisition professionals can take great pride in knowing that they are a vital part of the Army workforce that bears the tremendous responsibility of providing warfighers with the very best weapon systems, materiel support, and advanced technology to maintain the decisive edge on the battlefield. For those not already in the acquisition profession, it just may be the change you need to boost your Army career.

The Acquisition Corps is looking for enthusiastic members who live the Army’s core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. First and foremost, we’re looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. In our line of work, we require transparency and fairness because we are entrusted with public funds and must remain good stewards of taxpayers’ money. We place a high value on teamwork and the willingness to work hard to deliver capability to our Soldiers. Sometimes during negotiations with our industry partners, we must adapt quickly to changing situations and be willing to work with other members of the Army team (e.g., requirements and resourcing) to ensure affordable and executable products meeting Soldier needs. Additionally, we’re looking for a diversity of backgrounds and abilities (military occupational skills, academic degrees, and certifications) to add to the Acquisition Corps, making it more reflective of the Army we serve.

One example of a Soldier who took on the acquisition challenge and brought a new skill set to the Acquisition Corps is SSG Rickie Spivey, a Contracting NCO with the 683rd Contingency Contracting Team in Vicenza, Italy. From 2004 to 2008, Spivey had been serving as an Automated Logistical Specialist.  In 2008, she started looking for a bigger challenge, something that would test her not only physically, but also mentally. She found it in the Acquisition Corps, where she applied for military occupational specialty (MOS) reclassification, was accepted, and was subsequently awarded the 51C MOS, Contracting NCO. In just under a year, Spivey has supported more than 30 contracts, as well as two major missions in Uganda and Gambia. “I want to obtain the most contracting knowledge I can and be confident in sharing that information and knowledge with fellow 51Cs,” according to Spivey. “Not only do I continue to live the Soldier and NCO creed, but I strive each day to be better than the day before and to always exceed my own expectations,” she said.

Spivey is just one of the many Acquisition members who rise to the challenge every day to provide our Soldiers with what they need to help them prevail in every confrontation with the enemy.

Over the next couple of years, the Army will be moving forward to assess a significant number of NCOs and Officers into the Acquisition Corps and in particular, to become Army Contracting Officers. The future of the Army Acquisition Corps is bright, and we’re continuing to look for opportunities to bring into our formations the very best and brightest who are willing to learn acquisition and to work hard to support our Soldiers. 

When selecting Acquisition Corps members, the Army uses the “whole person” concept, evaluating each candidate’s leadership positions held, potential for success, education, performance and recommendations, and completion of key developmental assignments.

For officers, members can be accessed through three methods: the annual Career Field Designation Board, which focuses on Army Competitive Category (ACC) captains in their fifth to seventh year of commissioned service; the Voluntary Incentive Transfer Program, which employs a quarterly panel to access ACC officers from multiyear groups; and through branch transfers for non-ACC officers on a case-by-case basis. For more information on the education, training, and experience requirements for Acquisition Corps officers, please visit the U.S. Army Human Resources Command’s Acquisition Management Branch website (AKO user name and password required) at https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/protect/branches/officer/fs/acquisition/index.htm.

Just like the officers, NCO members are selected from many military specialties for reclassification into the 51C MOS. The reclassification boards are made up of contracting professionals: contracting commanders and contracting battalion and brigade sergeants major. The board evaluates the candidates’ NCO Evaluation Reports, military and civilian education, time in service, and recommendations from senior officers. After selection, the NCO attends initial training at either the U.S. Army Acquisition Center of Excellence at the University of Alabama in Huntsville or the U.S. Air Force Mission Ready Airman Course in San Antonio, TX. NCOs are usually assigned to contracting teams in the U.S. Army Contracting Command. There are great opportunities for NCOs within Army’s Contracting.  NCOs can visit their career counselor or installation contracting office for more information, or visit the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center website at http://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/military-nco/reclassification-information.

Civilian acquisition professionals are hired in all the 14 Acquisition Career Fields to include: Program Management; Facilities Engineering; Quality Assurance; Systems Planning, Research, Development and Engineering; Business – Financial Management/Cost Estimating; Life-cycle Logistics; Information Technology; and Test and Evaluation. Civilians desiring an acquisition career or to continue through the career field, can compete for openings across the Army through announcements posted on USA Jobs (http://www.usajobs.opm.gov) for everything from entry-level intern jobs to journeymen positions and even Senior Executive Service leadership. 

Whether you are a Civilian, Officer, or NCO, if you believe you have the tenacity and drive to become an acquisition professional, then I encourage you to join us and apply.

ACC

SSG Rickie Spivey earned the 51C MOS, Contracting NCO. “I want to obtain the most contracting knowledge I can and be confident in sharing that information and knowledge with fellow 51Cs,” she said. (U.S. Army photo by Larry D. McCaskill, U.S. Army Contracting Command)


  • LTG WILLIAM N. PHILLIPS