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Feds struggle to attract, retain acquisition workers.

Federal procurement policy chief Paul Denett says new initiatives are aimed at retaining acquisition personnel and attracting new ones.

Denett's Office of Federal Procurement Policy conducted the first survey of the acquisition workforce last year. He said the results will guide efforts to train those workers. He spoke at a Feb. 14 hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee's subcommittee on oversight of government Management and the federal workforce.

Denett pointed to his initiatives requiring certification not only of contracting officers, but also program managers and contracting officer technical representatives. His survey found that many of the workers believed they need additional training in such areas as project management, requirements definition, performance-based acquisition, and negotiation.

Denett has also established the SHINE awards to recognize top performers in acquisition.

The survey found that a majority of acquisition personnel plan to retire within the next 10 years. (SAA, 10/26/ 07) Denett has created an internship program to attract new workers.

In recent years the government has been able to hire more acquisition personnel than it has lost, said Karen Pica, director of the Federal Acquisition Institute. But subcommittee chairman Daniel Akaka, D-HI, said, "With every new retiree, the government is losing important institutional knowledge. The government must act aggressively now in analyzing acquisition workforce trends so that a brain drain does not develop."

The subcommittee's ranking Republican, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, said Congress must take the blame for the shortage of acquisition workers, because it ordered cuts in personnel during the 1990s. "The acquisition workforce is overworked and does not have the appropriate training to do the job they have been asked to do," he said.
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Publication:Set-Aside Alert
Date:Feb 22, 2008
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