Back to Basics from the DACM Newsletter

By April 9, 2019March 24th, 2021Talent Management
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What is the difference between an Army acquisition career field and an Army career program?

Army acquisition career fields (ACFs) and Army career programs (CPs) are two very closely related training models, but they can be confusing concepts. Understanding the difference between the two will alleviate confusion within the acquisition and nonacquisition community and increase awareness of additional training opportunities available to the workforce.

Every Department of the Army civilian is aligned under a CP; however, only acquisition-coded civilians and military are assigned an ACF. They both strive to close functional and leadership competency gaps and afford each workforce member the opportunity to pursue their career goals. The Army defines talent management as “a deliberate and coordinated process to optimize leader development practices and align talent with current and future Army requirements to improve the individual or organization.”

Acquisition Career Fields:

The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) responded to the need for increased emphasis on the development of a qualified and professional defense acquisition workforce. It requires the DOD to establish education and training standards, requirements and courses for the civilian and military workforce as mandated by Chapter 87 of Title 10, United States Code, and encompasses the following:

  • Requires acquisition career field certification training through the Defense Acquisition University (DAU).
  • Acquisition Corps memberships (applies to critical acquisition positions (CAPs) and key leadership positions (KLPs)).
  • Tenure agreements (applies to CAPs and KLPs).
  • Assignment-specific training.
  • Continuous learning requirement (every two years).
  • Best-qualified individuals selected for acquisition positions.

Training and development opportunities for ACFs are funded by the Army Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office and the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund. For more information on the Army DACM Office’s centralized training and development opportunities, visit

For more information about the 14 acquisition career fields visit

Army Career Programs:

The objective of career program management, according to Army Regulation 690-50, is to build and sustain an Army Civilian Corps ready for the current and future mission through:

  • Directly or indirectly, and in support of commands, sustaining Army civilians by providing opportunities for training, education, and professional development programs and assignments.
  • Addressing competency gaps, developing and executing gap-closure strategies, and understanding future workforce requirements.
  • Standardizing career ladders and career maps to facilitate the career planning and the continuity of leadership and technical proficiency.
  • Providing organization and system processes to allocate, prioritize and execute Army Civilian Training, Education and Development Systems (ACTEDS) resources.
  • Fostering collaborative, enterprise-wide decision-making and succession planning.
  • Facilitating the employment of comparable forecasting and workforce planning methodologies.

Training and development opportunities for the career programs are funded by the Army G-3/5/7.

For more information about the 31 career programs visit All career program-related question should be sent to the ACT NOW help desk:

Acquisition career fields vs. career programs

Now that we understand the differences, how do they relate? Acquisition career fields and Army career programs provide a basic blueprint for civilians through career maps, leader development programs and training for professional advancement.

So if you’re looking for training dollars, seek out your career program or the Army DACM Office. They’re both here to help!

While you are in an acquisition-coded position, you will receive email notifications from the Army DACM Office and the career program office promoting developmental opportunities specific to each office. Take note of these opportunities, talk with your supervisor, update your individual development plan in the Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System, and take advantage of the professional training resources available to advance your career.

Please remember your Army DACM Office is here for everything acquisition career-related. Our focus is on the 39,000 Army Acquisition Workforce professionals.

This article was published in the July DACM Newsletter.


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