OFFICERS IN THE ARMY ACQUISITION WORKFORCE

Commissioned and Noncommissioned officers make up five percent of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Military professionals strive to meet the needs of the Soldier throughout the full spectrum of operations by incorporating technical solutions to respond to the rapidly evolving threat environment. Officers ensure the delivery of quality capabilities, providing the right product or service to the right place, at the right time to ensure the Army is equipped for the 21st century. Officers work with joint and international partners as well as those in industry and academia, to develop, acquire, deliver, sustain and safely dispose of weapons systems and provide contracting services to Soldiers in all military operations. They work closely with these partners to continually improve Army capabilities and ensure their interoperability. The final responsibility is to the American public: Officers in the Army Acquisition Workforce are in Functional Area (FA) 51 either A (Program Management) or C (Contracting). The Army Acquisition FA 51 must be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and work to continuously achieve the highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency in business decisions while maintaining strict adherence to acquisition ethics policies, regulations and laws.  

Military Eligible Acquisition Career Field Military Specialties 

The Army Acquisition Workforce is composed of approximately 32,000 civilian and military professionals who support the various phases of the acquisition life cycle. Below is a representation of what acquisition career fields the military are eligible for. 

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT

Program Management focuses on the management of materiel systems or services across all phases of life-cycle management. In accordance with Acquisition Reform Initiatives, the goal for officers in Area of Concentration (AOC) assignments in Program Management (A) is to gain a wide range of experiences leading up to their colonel/O-6 Centralized Selection List (CSL)/Key Billet Program Management assignment, which could include experience in science and technology, test and evaluation, and contracting as career timelines allow. Officers coordinate with their career manager to ensure future assignments offer opportunities to gain experience in these functionalities. The life-cycle phases include planning and refining the initial requirements, development, and maturation of technology through a disciplined engineering process, producing and deploying a materiel capability, supporting a fielded capability in the operational force, and disposal.  FA 51 officers assigned to AOC A positions will primarily perform program management duties and may experience information technology, test and evaluation, systems planning research, development, and engineering—science and technology management related work. AOC A’s primary responsibilities include the government’s management of program cost, schedule, performance, risk, and test and evaluation. Other AOC A responsibilities include managing supply chains, and science and technology projects. Officers coordinate with warfighters and Army Capabilities Managers (the warfighter’s representative) to assist in determining requirements. Throughout the life cycle, AOC A officers manage the efforts of the government and industry partners. A position normally includes assignments in a Program Executive Office (PEO), which is the government organization responsible for managing Army systems. Management of information technology (IT) programs is unique in their cost, schedule and performance due to rapid changes in science and technology. Program management of IT-based solutions is often times knowledge management of the collaboration between laboratories, academia, and Soldiers. Other AOC A positions include test and evaluation activities with the task of ensuring material and technology-based solutions adequately address operational effectiveness, suitability, and safety criteria.

CONTRACTING

Contracting focuses on providing contracting support worldwide to expeditionary operations throughout the entire spectrum of military operations. These military professionals lead contracting teams, contracting efforts for installations, military construction and weapon systems procurement. They execute contract awards and contract administration, and provide industrial management and oversight at contractor facilities worldwide. Officers coordinate the appropriate contracting action with the supported warfighter or program manager to address requiring activity needs. These military professionals are responsible for making determinations on contract awards and supporting the development of acquisition plans and instructions. Area of Concentration Assignments (AOC in Contracting (C) may include contracting support to the warfighter; assisting contract support planning at all levels of Army operations; and systems and service contracting in major purchasing commands. Contracting positions are located within Army Corps of Engineers, the Defense Contract Management Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency, among others. Duties may include determining best contract types and agreements; negotiating contract terms and conditions; obligating funds; awarding contracts; leading post-award actions; monitoring performance and production; providing contract surveillance; performing risk analysis; and advising warfighters, program managers and industry. An acquisition officer assigned to a Contracting position is required to earn and maintain DAWIA certification standards specific to that acquisition functional area.

51 EXPERIMENTAL Test PILOT (xP) Program

Limited to Experimental Test Pilots only.

What is an XP?

  • An experienced officer
  • A proficient aviator
  • A technical writer
  • An articulate briefer

The delivery to the field of a useful piece of aviation equipment depends on the XP’s ability to relate its performance in test to the mission of the aircraft.
The experimental test pilot program exists to flight-test new and emerging technologies designed to enhance the Army warfighting capability, ensuring a U.S. technical advantage over her adversaries. Organic to the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC), the Aviation Flight Test Directorate (AFTD) is located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama and is the main proponent for aircraft and aviation systems testing. Army XPs also test out of Ft. Eustis, Virginia; the NASA Ames Research Center, California; and Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, as well as through an exchange program with the British in England.

XPs are selected from Active Army aviation officers and warrant officers. Due to the high technical nature of flight testing and working directly with design engineers, a college background in engineering, mathematics, or science is highly desired. Selected personnel will attend, arguably, the best technical program in the world—the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School for 12 months at Patuxent River, Maryland.

What does an XP do? 

  • Design and conduct flight testing in numerous and diverse aircraft, both fixed and rotary wing
  • Perform performance and handling qualities assessments
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of aviation systems
  • Develop advanced flight control systems
  • Fly beyond operational aircraft limits

Pilots and Leaders interested in the Experimental Test Pilot Program should review the supporting recruiting brief or information about the available opportunities. Selected personnel will test new and emerging technologies designed to enhance warfighting capability, ensuring that the Army maintains the leading edge of that capability over its enemies around the world. For more details on the program, contact the Acquisition Management Branch. XPs will be assigned a follow on assignments in Area of Concentration (AOC) A.

An acquisition officer assigned to a Test Pilot position is required to earn and maintain DAWIA certification standards specific to that acquisition functional area.

ACCESSIONS

Active Component Officer Accession Process: Human Resources Command (HRC) executes two primary methods of accession into the Army Acquisition Corps. Ideally, officers are accessed into Functional Area (FA) 51 through a semi-annual Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program (VTIP) board at their sixth or seventh year of service. Officers may be accessed before completion of their Key Development assignments through early accessions into the Talent Based Career Alignment (TBCA).  During TBCA or Early Assignment Placement, the Army agrees to place an officer in the FA 51 upon successful completion of a follow-on assignment and key developmental (KD) assignment. Select officers are also accessed through the Experimental Test Pilot Program selection process. Critical to accession as a FA 51 officer is demonstrated, successful leadership performance in the appropriate key developmental position in the grade of captain as outlined in the officer’s basic branch of this Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3. Officers interested in the Army Acquisition Corps are strongly encouraged to read current military personnel messages to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to prepare for the accession processes.

  • S. Army Reserve (USAR) Acquisition Officer Accessions: HRC executes the USAR FA 51 accessions for Active Guard Reserve (AGR), Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) and Troop Program Unit (TPU) officers. AGR officers may request accessions through their current branch career manager using the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program (VTIP) process held throughout the fiscal year (FY) as soon as they are eligible. IMA/TPU officers may request accession through the USAR Acquisition Workforce FA 51 Accession Board held during the FY biannually. Critical to accession as an USAR FA 51 officer is demonstrated, successful leadership performance in the appropriate key developmental position in the grade of captain as outlined in the officer’s basic branch of this Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3.
  • Army National Guard (ARNG) Acquisition Officer Accessions: ARNG Title 10 FA 51 officers assigned to AOC A are accessed by the ARNG Human Capital Management Office (ARNG-HCM) in coordination with the ARNG Acquisition Management Office (ARNG-AMO). ARNG Title 10 FA 51 officers assigned to AOC C are accessed by the ARNG Human Capital Management Office in coordination with the National Guard Bureau (NGB) Joint Staff (NGB-JS) Acquisition ARNG Title 32 FA 51 officers are accessed by their respective State Guard in coordination with the ARNG Acquisition Management Office, which confers or denies Functional Area approval. Critical to accession as an ARNG FA 51 officer is demonstrated, successful leadership performance in the appropriate key developmental position in the grade of captain as outlined in the officer’s basic branch of this DA PAM.

Army National Guard and Army Reserve Information

Army National Guard FA 51 Information: The Army National Guard (ARNG) Acquisition Management Office (AMO) reviews and approves all requests for ARNG personnel to join the Army Acquisition Corps.

Title 10: The Title 10 Active Guard Reserve (AGR) FA 51 program is a full-time program for officers to serve in two areas; Program Management and Contracting. The career timeline parallels that of the Active Component, and ARNG officers can compete for the same Centralized Selection List (CSL) command opportunities.  Critical to selection as a FA 51 officer is demonstrated, successful leadership performance in the appropriate key developmental position in the grade of captain as outlined in the officer’s basic branch of Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3. Officers interested in the Army Acquisition Corps are strongly encouraged to read current military personnel messages to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to prepare for the accession processes.

Title 32: The Title 32 acquisition program is available to both officers and noncommissioned officers in Contracting. Critical to selection as an ARNG 51C officer is demonstrated, successful leadership performance in the appropriate key developmental position in the grade of captain as outlined in the officer’s basic branch of Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3. Officers interested in the Army Acquisition Corps are strongly encouraged to read current military personnel messages to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to prepare for the accession processes. For information about Title 32 Reclassification for officers, visit https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/military-nco/arng-reclassification-program.

Army Reserve FA51 Information:
The Army Reserve FA 51 community is comprised of two different programs:

AGR:   The Active Guard Reserve (AGR) FA 51 program is a full-time program for officers to serve in two areas; Program Management and Contracting. The career timeline parallels that of the Active Component, and USAR officers can compete for the same Centralized Selection List (CSL) command opportunities. Critical to accession as an USAR FA 51 officer is demonstrated, successful leadership performance in the appropriate key developmental position in the grade of captain as outlined in the officer’s basic branch of this Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3. Officers interested in the Army Acquisition Corps are strongly encouraged to read current military personnel messages to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to prepare for the accession processes.

TPU (Troop Program Unit/or traditional drilling units):   The USAR has a FA 51 program for Troop Program Units.  This program is for your traditional drilling USAR Soldier who performs annual training and weekend battle assemblies. The acquisition program is available to both officers and noncommissioned officers in Contracting and officers in Program Management. Some of the supported organizations include the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), Army Contracting Command (ACC) and Program Executive Offices (PEOs). Soldiers are frequently called upon to support these organizations missions at home and abroad. Those interested in the Army Acquisition Corps are strongly encouraged to read current military personnel messages to ensure that sufficient time is allocated to prepare for the accession processes.

Officer Faces of the Force

CAREER RESOURCES

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