JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- (Aug. 5, 2016) Newly hired purchasing agents are now serving alongside contracting officers and contract specialists in the Mission and Installation Contracting Command.Approximately 120 purchasing agents across 31 offices in the command are helping provide timely contracting solutions and improving readiness for MICC customers.MICC officials are using purchasing agents in the 1105 career series to assist with the demand for contracting skills needed to meet the Army's acquisition needs. The MICC has a goal to hire 298 purchasing agents across the command."Purchasing agents are proving to be a valuable asset to MICC contracting staffs around the command, allowing contracting officers to work larger dollar and more specialized acquisitions," said Renee Burek, the 1105 program coordinator for the MICC. "They are a critical aspect to the success of the MICC mission."In 2015, MICC officials created the MICC Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston to develop adaptive leaders and products to assist the challenges of an ever-changing contracting environment. Earlier in 2016, the MICC began its 1105 training program to meet contracting workload gaps. Program officials created a three-phase process to train new purchasing agents on standardized minimum requirements. The program also assists contracting offices with the integration of this new career series in their workflow process.Phase I is a foundation course, consisting of Defense Acquisition University Level I courses, an orientation to the 1105 job series and a procurement system familiarization. In Phase II, purchasing agents are introduced to procurement systems and procedures for working on simplified acquisitions valued at $150,000 or less.With most of the newly hired purchasing agents having completed Phases I and II, program officials began Phase III training to include the Purchasing Agent Mission Ready Course. This course focused primarily on service acquisitions above the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000 through $7 million.In Phase III, purchasing agents were taught how to apply the appropriate guidance from governing policies and directives and review a service acquisition package for compliance. The final phase also prepares them to perform market research, define an acquisition strategy, create a request for proposal, evaluate offers, create a commercial service award, and perform other contract administrative functions.Purchasing agents also hear from guest speakers from the Installation Management Command discussing the request for service contract approval process; the Department of Labor on considering the Service Contract Act; and a MICC contracting office demonstrating the Paperless Contract File functionality.Burek said the feedback she has received from students after attending the Phase III Mission Ready Course is that they can effectively and efficiently complete their workload. That sentiment has also been echoed by leaders throughout the field."Our purchasing agents have stepped in and are making big contributions in just a few short months," said Ray Harris, the MICC-Fort Sam Houston director. "They are already proficient with small purchases under the simplified acquisition threshold, which helps greatly with year-end closeout and frees the contracting officers up for the more complex buys. It also gives purchasing agents the foundation to move on to larger procurements soon."Up to this point, Burek said most purchasing agents have completed the necessary building blocks to support the organization's needs and are building upon that foundation."We have been facilitating the program, inspiring collaboration and encouraging effective communication between contracting officers and newly minted purchasing agents," she said. "We continue to oversee any Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act certifications and training, forecast funding for training requirements, track issues and trends for command resolution and conduct one-on-one career development guidance."The MICC Business Management Branch is preparing the fiscal 2017 training schedule. It is updating course materials based on lessons learned and developing a fourth training phase to focus on team building, workload management and contract administration.As of June 2016, 65 percent of the 120 purchasing agents in the command have completed DAU's Level 1 courses. DAU certifies acquisition professionals in the acquisition career field in accordance with the DAWIA, which represents demonstrated competency. Another 30 percent have completed their DAWIA Level II courses. To date, 22 percent of the MICC's purchasing agents hold a Level I certification.For fiscal 2017, newly hired purchasing agents should expect additional course offerings, said Burek, who also guides new employees in the career series and assists them with their career development needs."We welcome feedback from the field to improve the program and training," said Kim Wentrcek, chief of business operations with the MICC Directorate of Contracting Operations. "The key to future success will be all of us working together now, so there is a smoother transition in the future."Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the MICC is made up of more than 1,500 military and civilian members responsible for contracting for Soldiers. In fiscal 2015, the command executed more than 36,000 contract actions valued at more than $5.2 billion across the Army, including $2.25 billion to American small businesses. The command also managed more than 600,000 Government Purchase Card Program transactions in fiscal 2015 valued at an additional $747 million.Editor's note: This is the second article in a series regarding the Mission and Installation Contracting Command Academy and training provided by the academy.