Back-to-Basics for the Defense Acquisition Workforce

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On September 2, 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.

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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.


  • Implementation to begin early Fiscal Year 2022 with full operating capability by 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.

Functional Areas

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


Please submit questions to the Army DACM Office via this email address:


Back-to-Basics puts defense acquisition workforce in a whole new world. Dramatic, necessary changes are coming.

On Sept. 2, Hon. Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (USD (A&S)), released a memorandum outlining Back-to-Basics (BTB), the first major reform of the defense acquisition workforce management framework since the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) was enacted in November 1990.