Small business is huge for the Army, but while ‘small business’ was set to become a separate career field, it will now be a career path.
by Ms. Jacqueline M. Hames
In May, Dr. James Galvin, acting director of DOD’s Office of Small Business Programs, announced that the small business career field will instead become an official acquisition career path.
“Small business” as a career field was originally intended to be a distinct, overarching discipline, like program management or contracting, said Sharon Morrow. She serves as the small business liaison for workforce development and the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs at the Army Office of Small Business Programs.
In July 2017, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued the revised “DOD Instruction 5000.66: Defense Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Workforce Education, Training, and Career Development Program,” which effectively froze the current acquisition career fields. While there will be no small business career field for the foreseeable future, there is still a small business career path. A career path is a specialty nested under another core career field, a way of refining an acquisition workforce member’s skills to focus on small business. Think of it as the difference between a college major (such as engineering) and a specialization or minor (civil engineering).
As a result of the revised instruction, Galvin decided that implementing a small business career path under the contracting career field would be the best course of action. This way, professionals on the small business path can retain their acquisition program code and career series while also having a subspecialty code that recognizes their small business duties, Morrow added.
Implementing the career path “easily identifies that we have small business duties” and helps track professional development and workforce numbers, Morrow said. Acquisition workforce members who focus on small business, once referred to as small business specialists, will now be called small business professionals, she explained.
Currently, there are about 160 professionals specializing in small business in the Army Acquisition Workforce, including some active-duty Soldiers. But there is still a great need for small business professionals, who “can add value when they are a part of acquisition planning at an early stage” by bringing small business capability to bear on mission requirements, Morrow said. Small businesses are more agile, responsive and innovative, and they can make decisions more quickly than larger corporate counterparts. Small business professionals in the acquisition workforce should have good business acumen and a depth and breadth of experience in acquisition planning and execution if they want to follow this career path, she said.
All major service components across DOD are working together to create the small business career path, said Giselle Whitfield, proponent officer with the Army Director of Acquisition Career Management Office at the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. An implementation plan for the small business career path is under development, she added, and small business courses are currently available at the Defense Acquisition University. Whitfield encouraged anyone who is interested to take a small business course, as small business knowledge overlaps with many other career fields.
JACQUELINE M. HAMES is a writer and editor with Army AL&T magazine. She holds a B.A. in creative writing from Christopher Newport University. She has more than 10 years of experience writing and editing for the military, with seven of those years spent producing news and feature articles for publication.
DAU Course Catalog, 2018, Small Business Career Path Course DODI 5000.66
This article will be published in the July – September 2018 issue of Army AL&T magazine.
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