By Joan Sable, Army Deputy Director, Acquisition Career Management (DDACM)
On Jan. 29, Hon. Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (USD(A&S)), signed a memo titled “Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce – Functional Area Reassessment.” This memo instructed the USD(A&S) director of human capital initiatives to establish a 60-day joint Functional Area Reassessment Working Group to analyze the current acquisition workforce requirements management approach to ensure that there is a structure in place that supports our future needs. Deputy directors for acquisition career management from all of the services participated in this effort.
At the end of March, the efforts of the working group were presented to Lord. The problem statement presented was as follows:
“Our current workforce requirements development and management process is no longer sustainable as the process appears overly complex and inefficient; the process has not kept pace with reforms in acquisition, specifically the delegation of Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP) oversight to the Services; and the lack of deliberate integration across the associated functional structures inhibits our ability to respond to today’s emerging cross-functional needs (e.g., Software, Cyber, Space, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning).” I know you are thinking, what exactly does this mean? The bottom line is this: Everyone is interested in how defense acquisition ensures that they have a highly trained and certified workforce, and they all want to have a similar focus.
There are more than 20 acquisition-related functional areas, including 14 official acquisition career fields and one career path. Some of these functional areas are acquisition-coded, while others are not but significantly support the acquisition community. What we must understand is that all of these functional areas require training to ensure that they are focused on how to advance the acquisition mission. Trying to wrap our arms around all of this as an acquisition community is a challenge. The Army DACM Office is focused on the 41,000 AAW professionals and may need to also focus on the non-acquisition community.
At the same time, Lord and the service and component acquisition executives are increasingly concerned that the defense acquisition workforce is not getting just-in-time training and more technical training. With the understanding that this problem is becoming extremely challenging as the result of a host of related issues, several steps were recommended:
- Lord will issue updated appointment memorandums to the functional leaders;
- Findings and functional area models will be reviewed with the service acquisition executives for realignment based on their needs and increasing agility;
- A comprehensive assessment of cross-functional competencies will be initiated to inform acquisition career field grouping options;
- Proposed legislative changes to the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) for 2021 will be developed.
I realize this is a whole lot of information, but I leave you with this understanding: Your DACM Office is in the mix on these USD(A&S) discussions and will be sure to partner with senior Army leaders and Army acquisition career management advocate leaders within your organizations to best represent our AAW’s interests and concerns.
This article is published in the April edition of the DACM Newsletter.