By Daniel P. Elkins
Officials at Fort Sam Houston, TX, have developed an Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Program, offering contracting professionals a structured, detailed road map for career management.
The program was created for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command (MICC) workforce, but officials from the U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) exploring a similar program recognized its value to the broader Army acquisition community. The program is scheduled to launch this spring.
“The Army is committed to replenishing and growing our professional acquisition workforce through the enhancement of career development programs and training opportunities,” said BG Stephen Leisenring, then MICC Commanding General. “Professional development serves as a powerful tool in defending this Nation and provides the processes to acquire needed capabilities.”
The overarching objective of the program is to build a cadre of acquisition workforce members using various tools and developmental opportunities with an eye to future leadership roles, said Wiley Cox, a Procurement Analyst with the MICC Acquisition Workforce Development and Training Branch. He said an assessment of the organization revealed a gap in aligning the workforce with professional development.
“We realized there was a disconnect between individual aspirations and decision makers who can match individuals to opportunities,” said Cox, who drew on his previous Air Force experience as one of the architects of the MICC program. “The Acquisition Workforce Development and Training Team designed a program within the MICC that will develop our future leaders.”
The program, fashioned after the Army Workforce Development Roadmap for the contracting and acquisition career programs, uses a four-phase approach, starting with establishing career development road maps.
“Contracting career field members who elect to participate will now have the unprecedented ability to directly communicate their career aspirations to senior leaders, who will then provide a strategic perspective on individual career paths,” Cox said. “This new avenue of communication will serve to identify future leaders and also arm individuals with recommendations that allow them to maximize their growth potential.”
Members who complete a road map should highlight functional competencies and significant business, professional, and leadership skills. Senior leaders then review the road maps, taking into consideration technical competencies, business acumen, leadership skills, and training and education accomplishments that they want to encourage at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.
The second phase entails completion of a contracting career development plan, consisting of an employee’s present and past experience as well as short- and long-range goals, according to Lorraine Massie, MICC Contract Operations Division Chief. This step also includes an assessment and recommendation by an individual’s supervisor.
Following completion of the road map and submission of a development plan, the third phase entails a review by the Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Board, consisting of a panel of senior leaders who will analyze experiential and educational accomplishments as well as the immediate supervisor’s input using specific criteria and a structured feedback approach to ensure consistency. Cox said the board will provide a recommendation for at least one follow-on assignment, along with training and educational recommendations, in feedback that takes into account individual accomplishments, career goals, and attributes that may lead to continued professional growth and career progression.
The final phase of the Acquisition Workforce Civilian Leadership Development Program is to match developmental opportunities to the employee based on recommendations by the board. This phase also serves as a tool for succession planning, Massie said. Managing the development program at MICC is the Acquisition Workforce Development and Training Team in the Contract Support Plans and Operations Directorate.
Following the launch of the program, officials from the MICC and ACC will continue to work closely to ensure individuals in the non-acquisition workforce are also folded into the career and leadership development process in the near future.
- DANIEL P. ELKINS is Deputy Director of Public Affairs for MICC. He has served more than 23 years in support of public affairs for the Army and the Air Force. Elkins holds a B.S. in communications from Louisiana Tech University and an M.A. in communications from St. Mary’s University.