Acquisition Workforce: Agencies Need to Better Define and Track the Training of Their Employees

GAO-02-737 Published: Jul 29, 2002. Publicly Released: Aug 28, 2002.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights

GAO's continuing reviews of the acquisition workforce, focusing on the Department of Defense (DOD); the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Energy, and Health and Human Services; the General Services Administration; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, indicate that some of the government's largest procurement operations are not run efficiently. GAO found that requirements are not clearly defined, prices and alternatives are not fully considered, or contracts are not adequately overseen. The ongoing technological revolution requires a workforce with new knowledge, skills, and abilities, and the nature of acquisition is changing from routine simple buys toward more complex acquisitions and new business practices. DOD has adopted multidisciplinary and multifunctional definitions of their acquisition workforce, but the civilian agencies have not. DOD and the civilian agencies reviewed have developed specific training requirements for their acquisition workforce and mechanisms to track the training of acquisition personnel. All of the agencies reviewed said they had sufficient funding to provide current required core training for their acquisition workforce, but some expressed concerns about funding training for future requirements and career development, particularly because of budget cuts made recently at the Defense Acquisition University.

Skip to Recommendations


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Federal Procurement Policy In an effort to ensure agencies succeed in defining a multifunctional and multidimensional acquisition workforce, the Administrator of the Office of the Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) should work with all the agencies to determine the appropriateness of further refining the definition of the acquisition workforce and to determine which positions, though not formally included in the acquisition workforce, nonetheless require certain training to ensure their role in the acquisition process is performed efficiently and effectively.
Closed – Implemented
In the its report, GAO noted that DOD and the military services have a more broadly defined acquisition workforce, including functions beyond the traditional contracting function. Having a broader definition is important because it is one method to facilitate agencies' efforts to ensure that training reaches all staff integral to the success of a contact. In an effort to ensure agencies succeed in defining a multifunctional and multidimensional acquisition workforce, GAO recommended that OFPP work with agencies to further refine the definition of the acquisition workforce. In response, the OFPP issued to all civilian agencies a policy letter dated April 15, 2005 that broadens the definition of acquisition workforce and thereby strengthens the workforce through more tailored training and career development, rather than focusing on traditional contracting functions. According to OFPP, it has positioned itself to better create partnerships between program managers and contracting officers to improve how services are acquired. Further, the Acquisition Advisory Council (established by the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003) has established an acquisition workforce working group, which is also addressing the need for and importance of broadened definitions of the workforce.
Office of Federal Procurement Policy The Administrator of OFPP should continue to monitor the Acquisition Career Management Information System contract milestones to ensure that the contractor and Federal Acquisition Institute complete and implement the proposed governmentwide system on schedule.
Closed – Implemented
In September 1997, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFFP) tasked the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) to develop and implement the Acquisition Career Management Information System (ACMIS). ACMIS is to be a federal Web-accessible database that tracks acquisition workforce training and education. In February 2000, GAO reported on delays in developing the systems, and recommended that OFPP take action to ensure that FAI complete and implement the system. Due to the difficulties in obtaining agreement on the requirements for the system, it was not implemented. In December 2001, under OFPP's direction, FAI again contracted for the development of the ACMIS. The system was expected to be operational in October 2002. As of June 2003, GAO had not been able to ascertain the current status of ACMIS. Later, GAO determined that ACMIS was deployed on May 27, 2003. This effectively satisfies GAO's recommendation that OFPP continues to monitor the ACMIS contract milestones to ensure that the contractors and FAI complete and implement the proposed governmentwide system.

Full Report