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Phyllis Harden

Legislative & Special Projects, Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel
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Federal Workforce

Reinvest and Rebuild the Federal Acquisition Workforce

Background:

  • About one federal acquisition professional in eight already is eligible to retire, and that will rise to more than half the workforce by 2016. The average retirement eligibility for contracting professionals will increase from 29 percent in FY 2011 to 50 percent in FY 2016. Although the federal agencies have a variety of tools to help recruit and retain older workers, the agencies have not always been aware of the full range of options. Recruitment, retention and training of the government workforce should be a high priority for both government and industry.

AGC Message:

  • An Understaffed Federal Acquisition Workforce Has Put Pressure On An Already Challenging Procurement Environment.The shrinking acquisition workforce is an ongoing problem and will exacerbate as the number of procurements continues to grow. According to the Government Accountability Office, the government bought $400 billion in goods and services in fiscal 2006 with only 20,000 contracting specialists in the workforce.
  • Human Capital Planning Requires Prompt Attention. Agency heads should regularly assessing the current and future needs of their agencies, identify and acknowledge gaps, and take immediate steps to address these gaps through hiring, allocation of resources, and training. This planning should assess the effectiveness of contractor personnel supplementing the acquisition workforce.
  • Identify and Eliminate Obstacles to the Expedient Hiring of New Talent. Establish a government-wide acquisition intern program to attract first-rate entry-level personnel into the acquisition career fields. Concurrently, create incentives to retain qualified, experienced personnel. To address the training needs of the acquisition workforce, the Services Acquisition Reform Act Training Fund should be reauthorized and fully funded. Additionally, OMB should issue guidance directing agencies to assure that funds in agency budgets identified for acquisition workforce training are actually expended for that purpose and require Agency Head approval before such funds are diverted for other uses.
  • The Federal Government Workforce Challenges Will Only Get Worse in the Coming Years. In order for the government to meet its many missions, it will have to do a better job of recruiting, hiring and training new employees. Given that the government’s purchase of goods and services is at an all time high, it is essential that the government acquisition positions be fully staffed. This problem needs to be addressed in the near-term to avoid the negative ripple effects that a strained workforce can have on all facets of contracting.
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