ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Approximately 60 Army Contracting Command-Rock Island employees received certification in a Contracting for Decision Makers (CON 360)-equivalent course during two sessions held here July 23-Aug. 1 and Aug. 13-22.

Holding these sessions locally not only enabled the students to move forth on obtaining their Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level III certifications, it also saved the command the equivalent of sending 60 people on temporary duty for two weeks. It also allowed students to keep up with workload during the summer furloughs, according to Rebecca Peterson, a program specialist in ACC-RI's training and workforce development office.

The office staff secured funding for the classes in late June, and received a couple weeks of administrative coordination, said Peterson. She said students in the first session faced the challenge of addressing workload and pre-class requirements in the one-week turnaround between class sign-up and the start date.

"In addition to wrapping up their normal job duties and ensuring their work priorities were met before class, they also had to complete a pre-classwork writing project and reading assignment," said Peterson.

She added that the biggest challenge to the command was losing its employees to training during furlough in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year.

However, students said they were able to keep up with their workload more easily than they would have had the class been held elsewhere.

"I was grateful to still be able to work and check emails," said Nichole Segura, ACC-RI contract specialist. "Currently I am administering a contract performing in Afghanistan, and every day there is an issue or 'fire' and two weeks without communication would have put myself and my customer in a crunch."

Segura said she has also benefitted by taking the class with other ACC-RI employees, including those she has never met.

"I loved taking class with more ACC-RI employees as this gave me the opportunity to network and socialize with folks I have never seen before," Segura said.

Peterson said that though the entire process of coordinating and executing the sessions was a "whirlwind experience," she is hopeful the training department will be able to hold more of these types of classes locally.

"With limited funding available for training, this was a fiscal win-win, plus it provides outstanding camaraderie and networking for the students," said Peterson. "As students complete their DAWIA training, they keep themselves on track to obtain their required certification levels."