Tuesday, February 8, 2011

OMB Goes Shopping for a Talented Acquisition Workforce

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has just issued a memorandum to Government HR and acquisition folks advising them how to use the many available special hiring authorities to devise "effective hiring strategies" for attracting "talented individuals" to the acquisition profession. An agency's acquisition workforce is critical to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. The government relies on its acquisition workforce to negotiate and administer contracts for over $500 billion per year. "Talented individuals", the OMB concludes will allow agencies to achieve cost savings, reduce risk in their contracting practices, and improve acquisition and project management. The OMB also believes that agencies should develop strategies to improve the visibility of acquisition jobs, target specific skill sets, and reduce wherever possible, the administrative burden on the agency and the applicant. Anyone that has ever applied for a Government job will appreciate the latter goal.

OMB is also developing new tools to be used in conjunction with the traditional interview. One of the new tools being developed to help agencies build their workforce is a new online applicant assessment tool. This assessment tool will use state-of-the-art Computer Adaptive Testing which adjusts the level of difficulty of questions based on an applicant's previous responses. Animated situational judgment assessments will present applicants with occupation-specific scenarios and ask them to respond. These tools will measure an a applicant's proficiency in a variety of general competencies, such as interpersonal skills, math, reading comprehension, and logical reasoning. These tools, of course, are being developed under contracts awarded by non-talented acquisition workforce personnel at prices far in excess of their intrinsic value and triple the prices available on the open market. Because of poor and sloppy project management practices, the tools will be rolled out 18 months later than expected and will crash everyone's computer. Well, maybe we're a bit sarcastic here but we want to underscore a very important point. The government acquisition corp is loaded with talented and dedicated individuals who work sacrificially to ensure the government is getting the best prices. Attracting talented individuals to the acquisition workforce is not the problem. Retaining them is the problem. While some leave because they feel uncomfortable in the "system", many gain experience and develop expertise and then leave because contractors offer them financial packages they cannot refuse.

Click here if you would like to read the entire OMB strategy (16 pages).

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