Training challenges addressed during budget cuts
September 25, 2013
In the midst of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, keeping the military and civilian contracting workforce trained and up to speed has been a challenge, according to Army Contracting Command training officials.
The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act requires military contracting professionals, uniformed and civilian, to frequently enroll in various training courses to maintain a certain level of expertise.
"Ensuring members of the command receive the most up-to-date information on required DAWIA training that is also the most advantageous to the mission, student and to the government cost-wise is the biggest challenge we face," said Steven R. Davis, chief, ACC Human Capital G-1 Training Division.
"Our (military occupation specialty) 51C contracting Soldiers are required to take a multitude of distance learning and resident courses, from standardized Army courses to university-level courses, to meet their annual Army DAWIA training requirements," Davis said.
Beverly Hopkins, ACC G-1 Talent Management Division, said acquisition personnel must meet certification standards for their respective career fields. That includes completing 80 hours of continuous learning points every two years by attending relevant acquisition courses.
"In addition to the required courses, the Defense Acquisition University offers a multitude of core-plus training and continuous learning modules," Hopkins said. "The ACC Mobile Training Team offers a contracting officer refresher course and a course on professional skills to enhance workforce knowledge and addresses skill gaps. Next year we will be adding a cost and pricing course."
The ACC Mobile Training Team consists of seven personnel whose mission is travel to various locations to train ACC contracting professionals.
Dealing with the multiple dilemmas, Davis said the ACC training team has marched forward doing its all to ensure all training requirements are met.
Davis said ACC Soldiers attend mandated training courses in addition to standard annual training requirements. Add to that career developmental training courses such as airborne or physical security officer courses and he said you have a complex training matrix to complete.
"Training opportunities are endless for military personnel," Davis said. "If a Soldier can show a relationship between the requested training and their primary or additional duties, then ACC will use the universal training priorities to prioritize which training is approved."
Davis said the recent integration of Expeditionary Contracting Command forces into several of ACC's stateside organizations has helped in the training arena.
"Rather than having training management for Soldiers at a centralized location, that responsibility is now done locally," Davis said. "That often produces less expensive training options not normally seen or thought of by personnel not familiar with their location."
Hopkins said training the civilian contracting workforce within the current budgetary constraints has proved to be difficult.
"It has affected the amount of training we are able to offer," Hopkins said. "It has had a negative impact in many different ways. The furlough days forced us to extend courses to ensure students complete full course requirements. That costs us additional money in travel and in the man-hours to manage it."
Even with less money available, Hopkins said those who need training will get it.
"ACC makes every effort to assist personnel on reaching their respective goals and we will continue monitoring certification and CLP delinquency to ensure no one goes without the training they are required to take."