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.
USAASC director details new advanced degree programs
Mastering acquisition The DACM Office and the Naval Postgraduate School realign degree programs to boost technical education of civilians and officers. Earlier this year, I was in beautiful Monterey, California, to help put the final touches to a new effort for the Army Acquisition Workforce at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Starting this fall, the civilians that the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center’s Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office sends to NPS will be pursuing an M.S. in systems and program management. Officers will pursue an M.S. in systems engineering management starting this summer. Previously, the professionals we sent to NPS were seeking an MBA. The new programs that we’re sending our students through—Curriculum 522 for officers and Curriculum 722 for civilians—will focus on getting them greater exposure and training across multiple career fields with added emphasis on critical thinking across domains; however, the curriculum has much of the same content as the previous master’s program. In addition to their master’s degree, civilians in a distance learning program will earn training equivalent to Level III Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training in program management and in engineering, Level II in test and evaluation and at least Level I in contracting. Any time you can get training and education simultaneously, you’ve got a greater opportunity to employ them in the experiential environment. Sailors approach Herrmann Hall. NPS’ new curricula in systems and program management and in systems engineering management for students from the Army Acquisition Workforce support its overall mission as well as the specific needs of Army acquisition professionals to understand the technical aspects of their jobs. (Photo courtesy of NPS) Eligible resident officers completing the 522 degree program also will obtain their Joint Professional Military Education and Level III training in program management, engineering and contracting, plus Level II training in test and evaluation. The impetus behind the change is Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski’s belief that if you want to be a great program manager or a great contracting officer, you have to thoroughly understand the technical acumen that’s needed for both parts of our business. If you’re running a program and haven’t been trained in contracting, when your contracting officer starts reeling off contracting jargon, you’re just going to agree to whatever they say and maybe not make the best choices for a program. And if you’re on the contracting side and you don’t have a solid understanding of engineering and program management, a contractor can overwhelm you with details and you might not make the best decisions for the government. The push for the change began with Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, Ostrowski’s predecessor as the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology and director of the Army Acquisition Corps. This change is about exposing more of our professional workforce to greater technical education. The key word here is “technical.” We’re very confident that throughout their careers, our civilians and our officers have a variety of opportunities to get leadership and management training and experience. But technical training is probably the most difficult to achieve. And so we’re trying to focus a lot of our education programs, NPS being one of them, to increase the number of people that have a greater exposure to technical content. A key component in this change is NPS. The true power that NPS can provide, and needs to focus on providing in the future, is its operational relevance. When you get an MBA or an M.S. in systems and program management, an M.S. in systems engineering management or any other graduate degree from NPS, you should have been exposed to enough experienced operators to flavor it so that a lot of what you’re getting is real-world practical experience that you can apply to DOD. We can send anybody anywhere for a systems engineering degree or an MBA. There are great institutions all over the world. But there are very few accredited institutions that can provide real-world practical operational experience from practitioners who have walked in the shoes you will be walking in as an acquisition professional. The faculty understands the pitfalls that you will face. They’ve worked inside the DOD system. Very few schools of higher education and learning can offer that. That’s the power that NPS has, and that’s the focus it needs to maintain. The faculty’s operational relevance is what sets NPS apart and makes it unique. If NPS strays from that, then it’s forced to compete with every other college and university in America. If it loses track of that niche, NPS will be of less value to us as the sponsor of these programs. Craig A. Spisak, left, the Army DACM, and Professor John T. Dillard, Col., USA (Ret.), NPS senior lecturer in systems acquisition management and technical representative for the new curricula, hold the memorandum of agreement signed by Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski and NPS President Ronald A. Route, Vice Adm., USN (Ret.), on May 18 at the Pentagon. The memorandum cements a partnership to provide relevant education to the Army’s military and civilian acquisition workforce. (Photo courtesy of John T. Dillard) We’ve had a longstanding relationship with NPS, and we look forward to continuing that through many, many years. NPS will face, as any college or university does, the difficulty of adjusting its curriculum to changing times. But the fact that NPS is a DOD institution allows it to translate our real-world needs into viable education programs. In the future we may have another emerging requirement for our students who go there to understand at the graduate level. And we will need to be able to transmit that requirement to NPS as the sponsor of the programs and have it adapt and adjust the curriculum in real time. We need that kind of responsiveness and partnership. They’re the professionals at educating people. We have to see the world today and into the future to determine what skill sets should be embedded in the NPS curriculum. The 411 on 522 and 722 at NPS Curriculum 522 Systems Engineering Management System Acquisition Audience: Army acquisition officers. Description: An interdisciplinary program combining systems engineering with acquisition management knowledge and skills. Intended to broaden the technical competence of officers with nontechnical backgrounds so that they can manage and lead acquisition programs for complex combat systems. Students learn the systems engineering process, from establishing system requirements through test and evaluation; and how to manage, schedule and budget programs and work with DOD suppliers through contracts to meet program obligations. Requirements: A baccalaureate degree with above-average grades is required. Completion of at least two semesters of college algebra or trigonometry is considered the minimum mathematical preparation. Program start dates: January and July. Program length: Six quarters. Training method: Resident. Degree: Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management. Certification training included: Joint Professional Military Education; Defense Acquisition University equivalencies for Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training for Level III in program management, Level III in engineering, Level III in contracting and Level II in test and evaluation. Curriculum 722 Systems Engineering Management Systems and Program Management Audience: Army acquisition civilians. Description: An interdisciplinary program combining systems engineering with program management knowledge and skills. Intended to broaden the technical capabilities of acquisition workforce members with nontechnical backgrounds so that they can successfully manage and lead programs or projects in support of the defense acquisition system. Students learn the systems engineering process, from establishing system requirements through test and evaluation; and how to manage, schedule and budget programs and work with DOD suppliers through contracts to meet program obligations. Requirements for entry: Candidates for the program must have a baccalaureate degree. This program is available only through the Army DACM Office. Program start date: September. Program length: Eight quarters. Training method: Distance learning. Degree: Master of Science in Systems and Program Management. Certification training included (for civilian students already Level II certified in program management): Defense Acquisition University equivalencies for Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training for Level III in program management, Level III in engineering, Level II in test and evaluation, Level II in production, quality and manufacturing, and Level I in contracting. This article will be published in the July – September 2018 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. Related posts: Advocate for Innovation Building A Better Mirror A different way of doing business Career Navigator: Where is the What?
Acquisition award nominations due June 15
by Susan L. Follett FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 21, 2018)—Nominations for the 2018 Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD(A&S)) Acquisition Awards are now being accepted, providing the Army acquisition community with an opportunity to showcase some of its most noteworthy accomplishments. “These awards are more than just a great way to promote the organizations and individuals who have made important contributions to defense acquisition,” said Craig Spisak, director of the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC). “Nominating people for awards is about talent management—about finding a way to keep the right person in the right job at the right time.” The 2018 USD(A&S) awards program has four categories: The Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Innovation Award recognizes organizations for exceptional outside-the-box thinking and progress in tackling workforce development challenges. The Defense Acquisition Workforce Individual Achievement Award recognizes individuals in each of the 17 acquisition functional disciplines. The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award recognizes civilian and military teams that demonstrate innovation and technical excellence in acquisition to achieve more cost-effective outcomes for the warfighter and the taxpayer. The Flexibility in Contracting Award recognizes DOD civilian and military professionals who have, in their approach to program management and contracting, demonstrated innovation and local adaptation by using the flexibilities and authorities granted by the Federal Acquisition Regulation and DOD Instruction 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, to increase the efficiency of programs. All nominations must be submitted online at http://asc.army.mil/web/acquisition-awards/ by the close of business on June 15. As the official collection point for Army nominations, USAASC will compile the nominations and submit them to senior leadership, which will then submit the strongest applications to USD(A&S) for consideration. The Secretary of Defense Product Support Manager (PSM) Award is also accepting nominations. This award recognizes the PSM accomplishments and contributions in two categories: Major Defense Acquisition Programs/Major Acquisition Information Systems, Acquisition Category (ACAT) I PSMs; and Major Weapon System/Other Weapon Systems, ACAT II and below PSMs. The deadline for submitting nominations for this award is midnight EDT on June 22. Winners will be announced later this year or early next year. Detailed information on each award and instructions on submitting nominations can be found at https://asc.army.mil/web/acquisition-awards/. “A little bit of recognition is one of our best tools for garnering great performance from the talent of our workforce,” Spisak said. “Recognizing people by nominating them for an award is probably the strongest message that you can send to advocate for those people and to motivate them.” Read through all of the instructions before you begin and make sure you understand all of the deadlines, page limits and information requirements. As you’re writing up the nomination, be specific and concise: What was the challenge? How was it overcome, and what puts that solution head and shoulders above the other nominees? Before you hit send, proofread. Then proofread again. Extra time invested in writing your nomination pays dividends once the winners are announced. Subscribe to Army AL&T News, the premier online news source for the Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (AL&T) Workforce. Related posts: DACM Corner: Growing the Acquisition Workforce New CREW Maintenance University Eliminates Need for Additional Training February 2016 Hot Topics DAU Senior Service College Fellows complete Program Manager’s Course
Career Corner: Three things you need to know if you want that next job
By Scott Greene This marks my fourth column on the civilian Centralized Selection List (CSL) process. Happily, we had our most successful results with the past FY19 board: 12 civilians selected as primaries for product manager positions and three selected for project manager roles. A huge congratulations to all those selected as well as the individuals who were activated off of the alternate list. This upward trend in civilian selection rates has led me to focus on three things: mobility, new “regional preference” rules and a suggestion for those who want to apply for project manager before serving as product manager. First, acquisition leadership wants civilians to be mobile. The intent is not to make civilians more like the military. It is rooted in ensuring that individuals have varying experiences in multiple organizations and locations as they develop. The broader and better rounded your resume looks, the more competitive it makes you (in addition to a strong Senior Rater Potential Evaluations). Don’t be afraid to take jobs outside your region. We recognize the need for alignment with your personal and family priorities. My point is to at least think about it and look for ways to work it into your professional and personal plans. Second, the Acquisition Talent Management Board of Directors, chaired by Lt. Gen. Paul A. Ostrowski, recently voted to change how civilian regional preference will work for CSL moving forward: NEW GUIDANCE: Civilians will no longer be allowed to provide a regional preference IF they have already served at that level previously while as a civilian. If selected, the slating process will still try to accommodate civilians regionally. Any declination by a civilian in this circumstance would be WITH PREJUDICE, and that individual would be ineligible to compete again at that level. Third, competitiveness for being selected as a project manager is much greater if you have previously served as a product manager. While it is not a stated prerequisite, one should be prepared to do product first. I know many GS-15s might view the role as less desirable because it is classified as a GS-14 position; however, try not to look at it that way. Instead, look at it as a centrally selected product manager position. If you are technically a GS-15/NH-04, you won’t lose any pay if you get the product-level positions. Think about your aspirations: If you want to be a project manager, there are certain experiences that make you a more competitive candidate. I look forward to your applications, and best of luck! For more information, visit the CSL website. Project manager announcement: April 16 – June 6 Board dates: Aug. 6-10 Tentative board results: November/December 2018 Product manager announcement: June 11 – July 26 Board dates: Oct. 30 – Nov. 2 Tentative board results: April/May 2019 Spread the word! You can get all the newest acquisition career and workforce information mailed straight to your inbox. Related posts: Program Executive Office Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Shapes Future Contracting Professionals USAASC to Provide Acquisition Career Counseling at AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition Acquisition Education and Training Corner: November 2011 Latest DACM newsletter jam-packed with information