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Leadership commitment and strategic approach to career-long learning distinguish first: USD (AT & L) Workforce Development Award winners.

On Nov. 16, 2004, Michael W. Wynne, acting under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, presided over the first annual Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition Technology & Logistics) Learning and Workforce Development Award competition, which was held in conjunction with the PEO SYSCOM Conference (Defense AT & L, January-February 2005, 94).

Announced by Wynne in May 2004, the Workforce Development Award is designed to encourage AT & L field organizations to promote career-long workforce learning and development in accordance with USD (AT & L) Goal No. 7, Motivated, Agile Workforce; and to recognize organizations that meet the challenge by developing comprehensive and innovative programs. Best practices identified through the program are shared with other defense AT & L organizations.

Congratulating the winners, Wynne stressed the importance of field organizations' providing world-class development to create superbly trained, well-disciplined communities focused on providing responsive products and services to the warfighter.

"AT & L's success is all about people," he said. "The Workforce Development Award is a critical component of my vision [of] an agile, motivated workforce. I am determined to create an environment where we can maintain a world-class AT & L workforce."

At Wynne's request, the Defense Acquisition University organized the competition. Twenty-two field organizations submitted award applications. A panel of seven educators and professionals from academia, industry, and corporate learning institutions (see sidebar) evaluated the applications for their scope and innovation to include mentoring, continuous learning, career counseling, job rotation and shadowing, executive coaching, leadership development, and succession planning.


Wynne said that the judges had identified threads of continuity: leadership commitment; a strategic approach to career-long learning; a strong leadership development program; and allocation of resources--both time and dollars--to training and development.

"We must ensure that all of our field organizations are world-class learning organizations," Wynne said. "Today we are recognizing some of our best learning organizations."

Gold Winner: United States Air Force, Air Armament Center (AAC), Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The Air Armament Center develops, tests, acquires, and sustains integrated air armament and provides expeditionary combat support. AAC is responsible for development, acquisition, testing, deployment, and sustainment of all air delivery weapons.


AAC has recently implemented several new and innovative workforce development initiatives to support their strategic objective to "Create and Enable the Workforce":

* Air Armament Academy (A3). A3's mission is to "sharpen the minds of those who forge the sword." The curriculum focuses on workforce knowledge gaps identified by AAC senior leaders as they execute their mission. Each member of the AAC senior leadership team serves as an A3 faculty member. AAC senior leaders have presented over 300 courses to more than 5,000 personnel.

* Knowledge Now Community of Practice (CoP) for A3. This CoP has transformed training administration from manual to fully automated.

* Leadership Enhancement and Preparation (LEAP) Program. This formal mentoring program is designed to facilitate the development of civilian employees.

* Defense Acquisition University Satellite Program. Partnering with DAU, AAC developed the Eglin Learning Organization (ELO). With many DAU courses taught at AAC, program savings are estimated at $3 million annually.

* Organizational Health Center (OHC). OHC provides executive coaching, organizational consulting, and change management specialist services.

* Training Days/Training Weeks Policy. Every month has designated training days, and every other month contains a designated training week. Training received by AAC personnel has increased by more than 50 percent. These initiatives, along with active internship programs, job rotation, job shadowing, career counseling, supervisor/leadership development, and succession planning, are transforming AAC's culture into one of a learning organization.

Silver Winner: United States Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

NAVFAC manages the planning, design, construction, contingency engineering, real estate, environmental, and public works support for U.S. Navy shore facilities around the world. It provides the U.S. Navy forces with operating, expeditionary, support and training bases.

In August 2000, NAVFAC established its Community Management Directorate to oversee all workforce career management programs for the acquisition career fields under its command:

* Human Capital Strategic Planning Process. NAVFAC, working with USD (AT & L), implemented a six-step planning process to appropriately shape its workforce and also develop an audit trail from its strategic plan to its workforce development programs. By using this process to identify appropriate workforce numbers and skills, resources can be best aligned and heavily invested on a strategic basis for the optimal value in intern, education, training, and job rotation programs.


* Establishment of Facilities Engineering Career Field. NAVFAC spearheaded the establishment of the facilities engineering acquisition career field. NAVFAC worked with USD (AT & L) and DAU to field Level I and Level II certification courses. Work is ongoing on the Level III certification course.

* College Credit Bank Transcript Service. By law, anyone assigned to the contracting career field must have 24 semester credits of business education. Many courses at DAU and the Naval Facilities Acquisition Center for Training carry American Council on Education recommendation for credits. Excelsior College consolidates these and other regionally accredited college level academic credits onto a single official transcript. This has helped NAVFAC employees meet their 24-semester-hour requirement and saved $591,000 in 2003. NAVFAC also makes extensive use of internships, in-house training, continuous learning, and leadership development to diligently ensure each employee recognizes his or her value to the command, the Navy, and the Department of Defense.

Bronze Winner: United States Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI), Orlando, Fla.

PEO STRI provides life cycle management of interoperable training, testing, and simulation solutions for soldiers' readiness and the defense community. PEO STRI is responsible for all major test instrumentation and, when requested, provides technical programmatic support to joint and Army agencies.

Because of the complexity of its mission in terms of requisite leadership, technical competence, communication, and geographical challenges, PEO STRI uses an integrated approach to training and career development activities:

* Total Employee Development. This paperless administrative process has reduced the use of DD Form 1556s from 2,100 a year to 50. The entire request, approval, and scheduling process is electronic and can be accessed by the manager, supervisor, or employee anytime and anywhere in the continental United States.

* The Employee Development Plan (EDP). This database catalogs employees' skills, education, certification levels, and relevant program experiences. The EDP assists PEO STRI in bridging the gap between current and future skill requirements, and supports succession planning to enable knowledge of current competencies to feed future needs. This program ensures that PEO STRI consistently retains, promotes, and hires the best and brightest talent possible.

* Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Course. The LEAD course assists project directors and team leaders to develop knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to effectively supervise and lead military and civilian personnel. The course also stresses professional and personal ethics and values.

* Creativity Day Camp. This program challenges managers, supervisors, and team leaders to think outside the box, learn how to establish friendly working relationships with subordinates, and learn how to encourage improvement.


Additionally, PEO STRI's workforce development program includes aggressive use of internships, job rotation, counseling, and job shadowing.

Significant Return on Investment

In closing, Wynne said, "The leadership commitment to employee development is evident. The time and energy you have placed in creating innovative workforce development programs will reap a significant return on your investment.... I have great confidence in the future of the AT & L community. Without a doubt, our people will have the right skills, in the right place, at the right time, with the right resources, doing the right things [and] smartly supporting the warfighter."

Guidelines for the 2005 Workforce Development Awards competition are posted on the DAU Web site at <>.

RELATED ARTICLE: 2004 USD (AT & L) Workforce Development Award Judges

1. Karen Barley, president and cofounder, Corporate University Enterprise, Inc.


2. Jeanne C. Meister, vice president market development, Accenture Learning


3. Sarah B. Mills, executive coach


4. Rear Adm. Leonard Vincent, USN (ret.), vice president, CACI International


5. Dr. Robert Ainsley, director, e-Learning and Technology Center, DAU


6. Dr. Christopher Hardy, deputy director, policy planning & leadership support, DAU


7. Dr. Russell Vacante, director, sector leadership, DAU


Vacante is director, sector leadership at the Defense Acquisition University and formerly served as DAU's director of performance-based logistics. His undergraduate and graduate degrees are from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
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Title Annotation:Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition Technology and Logistics)
Author:Vacante, Russell A.
Publication:Defense AT & L
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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