Back-to-Basics for the Defense Acquisition Workforce

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On September 2, 2020, the Honorable Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, published a memorandum that affects the entire Defense acquisition workforce. The memo, “Back-to-Basics for the Defense Acquisition Workforce”, provides direction to improve the Defense acquisition workforce’s agility by streamlining the functional area framework and prioritizing limited training resources. The Army DACM Office will advocate on behalf of the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) and will provide updates as they become available.


Entire Defense acquisition workforce.


The Back-to-Basics Acquisition Workforce Framework (BtB) reforms how to equip the acquisition workforce – creating a lean enterprise training requirement that increases opportunity for the workforce to get job-relevant training at the point of need and more targeted development training.

Changes to Career Fields:

  • The current acquisition career field structure will be streamlined to six functional areas that represent the “basics” of acquisition, focusing on those who develop, acquire, and sustain operational capability, and merit our highest investment priority given limited training and development resources.
    • Those six areas are: Business Financial Management/Cost Estimating, Contracting, Engineering, Life Cycle Logistics, Program Management, and Test and Evaluation.
  • Each of the six functional area is represented by a Defense-level Functional Leader; each Service will designate a counterpart

Changes in Certification Training:

  • Conversion from the resource-intensive and extensive three-level enterprise certification model to a leaner certification structure that is intended to cover “core” competencies within each respective functional area.
  • Employees and supervisors will need to prioritize job-relevant training needs that may not be prescribed through the new certification construct, but rather through specialized training and credentials.
  • The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) has already started deploying high priority and job-relevant credentials which will facilitate planned training to meet mission and job specific local needs.


  • Back-to-Basics was implemented in February 2022.


  • Prioritize and use limited training resources for the workforce that helps develop, acquire, and sustain operational capability.
  • Pivot to a mindset of prioritizing workforce needs and aligning use of reduced funding to those priorities.
  • With BtB, the acquisition workforce will receive the training they need, in relevant time, for their job.
  • Supervisors will tailor plan training for their acquisition personnel to meet real needs of their mission, and they will spend more time “doing” and getting job experience.
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Functional Areas

Click on the Functional Area below for detailed transition information.

Acquisition professionals in the Program Management career field are concerned with all functions of a program management office to accomplish program objectives for the development, production, deployment, and sustainment of systems to meet the user’s operational needs.

The ETM workforce has a vital role in developing, fielding, and sustaining defense systems and ensuring DoD products are delivered on time, perform as expected, and are cost-effective. The role requires developing and implementing solutions with an integrated technical approach across the total life-cycle to satisfy stakeholder needs and expedite transition of technology to the user, practicing early production planning and systematically examining producibility.

The Life Cycle Logistics functional area spans the system life cycle, encompassing acquisition and sustainment activities, and includes professionals responsible for planning, developing, implementing, and overseeing effective and affordable product-support strategies for weapons, materiel, or information systems.

The DoD Business Career Field is comprised of two tracks: Business Financial Management (BUS-FM) and Business Cost Estimating (BUS-CE). As advisors to acquisition decision makers, professionals within this functional area are responsible for financial planning, formulation and budgeting, budget analysis and execution, and cost estimating for a variety of programs within the DoD.

The Contracting workforce is vital to accomplishing the DoD’s mission by negotiating the best deal for the warfighter while demonstrating prudent stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Contracting professionals instill fairness and integrity in the acquisition process and serve as an overall business advisor to DoD acquisition teams.

T&E is a critical part of the DoD acquisition process. T&E professionals develop, optimize, execute and evaluate the testing of system performance, interoperability, reliability, maintainability and cybersecurity. They offer unbiased information to support and inform design improvements, production and fielding decisions.

Below is the proposed disposition of the current 14 acquisition career fields under the BtB construct.


For the most up to date DAU Credential information, please visit the DAU Credential webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions


Questions regarding Back-to-Basics may be sent via the Workforce Management Inquiry portal in the CAMP system at


Career Navigator
Back-to-Basics puts the power of training in the hands of the employee.

Read the article Power to the People to learn more.

From the DACM: Seismic Changes
Back-to-Basics puts defense acquisition workforce in a whole new world. Dramatic, necessary changes are coming. 

Read the article Seismic Changes to learn more.