OMB to complete acquisition workforce plan by October

The Obama administration this fall will finish a congressionally mandated plan for strengthening the federal acquisition workforce, an Office of Management and Budget official told lawmakers on Wednesday. OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy has been analyzing data on government spending and on contracting employees' competencies, said Jeffrey Zients, the agency's deputy director for management, during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee that oversees government management and workforce issues. The procurement policy office is working with members of the contracting community to develop an "actionable plan" to address the needs of entry-, mid- and senior-level acquisition workers, Zients said.

"This plan, to be completed in October, will identify near-term recruitment and development needs, recommend changes to our certification programs, and address the planning process that will be required to sustain these efforts," he said.

OMB also is working to establish a better process for evaluating progress and monitoring shifting workforce needs.

Zients recognized the importance of the policy office in providing guidance for acquisition workforce reform and acknowledged that filling the OFPP administrator vacancy, as well as the associate administrator for acquisition workforce programs position created by Congress in the 2008 Defense authorization bill, is crucial.

"I need to fill out the rest of my team," Zients said. "I need to find an administrator, which is a top priority, and I believe I will have an administrator candidate for you to meet in the next couple of months."

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, said OFPP must be granted more power if the administration expects it to lead efforts to reform the understaffed and inadequately trained acquisition workforce.

"OFPP does not have the authority or the resources it needs to effectively lead or enforce governmentwide requirements," he said.

While representatives from the Energy and Homeland Security departments, NASA and the General Services Administration touted their progress on tackling acquisition workforce problems, hearing witnesses all acknowledged significant challenges.

"Rebuilding an experienced, skilled acquisition workforce and rebalancing the multisector workforce will take years of dedicated effort," said Deidre Lee, executive vice president of federal affairs and operations for the Professional Services Council, a contractor association. "We do not need more reviews, competency studies, discussions of who should or should not be in the workforce or arbitrary requirements. We need action, now."

Nancy Kichak, associate director for strategic human resources policy at the Office of Personnel Management, told lawmakers further legislation to improve the hiring process is unnecessary. She said OPM strongly supports the principles embodied in the 2009 Federal Hiring Process Improvement Act, but can move forward while waiting for it to pass.

"We are concerned that mandating good agency practices in legislation may result in agencies losing flexibility and the ability to adapt to change," Kichak said. "We believe we can achieve the intended results of S. 736 by administrative means, by continuing to exercise leadership through our collaboration with OMB and the agencies."

Zients said the most important factor for success in acquisition workforce reform is agency leadership.

"If you try to do it centrally, through command and control, it's not going to work," Zients said. "There's certainly a role for all of us to facilitate and help agency leadership but at the very top of agencies, this has to be a priority."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.