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Page 36 6 Education and Training As DOD seeks to move toward greater reliance on the commercial sector for its products and services, its acquisition workforce must be trained, because the success of ICMM will largely depend on a knowledgeable and competent workforce. This increased training effort requires the active participation of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) (USD(AT&L)) and the service acquisition executives. This is particularly important because DOD's acquisition workforce will need to develop the requisite skills to deal effectively in the commercial marketplace. Training should fully support the acquisition process and allow DOD to take full advantage of the entire marketplace. Those involved in the delivery of a training program that emphasizes the commercial marketplace should be held accountable for results. Hearings held on July 17, 2001, by the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, appear to support these efforts. In those hearings, the Director of Defense Procurement (Lee, 2001) acknowledged that DOD training needs should be updated to reflect commercial practices and the unique needs of the commercial sector. While the testimony addresses the specific needs of commercial intellectual property rights, it reflects a broader concern that the changed business environment will require flexibility in laws and regulations for dealing with the commercial sector. This testimony also notes DOD procurement policy makers have had a dialogue with firms that declined to do business with DOD because of intellectual property concerns.
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Page 37 UNDERSTANDING THE COMMERCIAL MARKETPLACE Despite DOD's strong emphasis on the training and education of its military and civilian acquisition personnel, current training does not equip DOD personnel to understand the commercial marketplace. DOD has a well-trained acquisition workforce with a high level of skill in the specialties of traditional defense acquisition, such as FAR-based procurement, engineering, test and evaluation, and logistics. However, it is not taking full advantage of commercial capabilities, because it does not provide training specialized in the commercial sector, most notably in commercial sourcing. It is well positioned to develop and implement a training program that would provide the knowledge and tools to take advantage of the technology, products, and services that exist in the commercial sector. The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) has the management responsibility for all acquisition training within the DOD. DAU campuses are in place across the country. It has been a leader in the development and delivery of technology-based training through distance learning. The Defense Systems Management College (DSMC) is an important component of the DAU. Located in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, the DSMC is responsible for courses leading to level III certification in acquisition management and for post-level III training for program executive officers (PEOs), program managers, and deputy program managers for major programs in terms of military priority and cost. These major programs are usually designated acquisition category (ACAT) 1 or 2, and the training requirements are rooted in law. The DAU trains in excess of 40,000 government personnel each year, and this level of training is expected to continue well into the future. The Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), located at Ft. McNair in Washington, D.C., delivers a 1-year course for senior personnel who are expected to be future leaders in DOD and other government agencies. About one-third of the ICAF student body specializes in acquisition management. Keeping in touch with industry is an important part of the ICAF mission. Each of the students participates in an industry studies program that requires field trips to various private sector companies. This industry studies program can be an important resource for DOD as it seeks to expand its emphasis on ICMM and gain a greater understanding of the commercial industrial base. Finally, DOD has recognized that it is facing a significant challenge posed by the demographic composition of its workforce, including those who work in acquisition. A substantial percentage of the DOD acquisition workforce is eligible to retire, and there are not enough people ready to replace them. In October 2000, DOD issued its final report of the Acquisition 2005 Task Force, “Shaping the Civilian Acquisition Workforce of the Future” (USD(AT&L), 2000), whose recommendations are now in the process of being implemented. The committee strongly endorses the thrust of that report. For the purposes of ICMM, its imple
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Page 38mentation represents an opportunity to bring new blood into the workforce and to develop in them skills that will allow DOD to take advantage of the commercial marketplace. USD(AT&L) and the service acquisition executives need to put in place a comprehensive training program to develop expertise in the defense industrial base. The training program must recognize the changing business environment that exists for DOD and should be aimed at program managers and other acquisition personnel, including contracting officers. It should emphasize the technology as well as the processes, products, and services of the commercial sector. It should also give acquisition personnel new tools that they can use to buy better value for DOD and an improved capability for its operating forces. The essential elements of the training program are described next. A COMMERCIAL ACQUISITION ACADEMY The USD(A&T) could send a strong signal to the acquisition community, and create a strong agent for change, by establishing a commercial acquisition academy within the DAU organization to bolster training and education that emphasize the commercial marketplace. New curricula as yet unfamiliar to DOD will have to be developed and delivered by experts in the commercial sector, whose help and support DOD should enlist in designing a program that meets the needs of both. The curricula should provide tool-based knowledge so that acquisition personnel can buy effectively in the commercial sector under commercial rules while still protecting the interests of DOD and maintaining the necessary accountability to the taxpayer. Training should emphasize commercial best practices through case studies and other practical exercises. This will require integrating courses offered by the commercial acquisition academy with other DAU courses, including those at DSMC. Industry (including firms not doing military business) and business schools should be solicited to help in the development of case studies and to augment the faculty. The DAU also may be able to take advantage of courses in place at commercial companies. Industry associations can play a key role in curriculum development and facilitate participation by commercial companies. All acquisition personnel should be trained in critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making as a prerequisite for level III certification. Post-level III training of PEOs and program management personnel should emphasize business acumen, critical thinking, and problem solving. Case studies, with particular emphasis on the commercial sector, should be the primary teaching tool. Special attention should be paid to benchmarking current commercial practices and using commercial terminology throughout the academy's programs. Differences in terminology between defense and commercial industry complicate the use of commercial suppliers and practices.
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Page 39The curriculum should emphasize industry tours and internships, which let government personnel see how industry operates and bring good ideas back to DOD. Such tours and internships can also be a two-way street where industry people learn more about government. To the extent practicable, commercial personnel should teach DAU courses, particularly those offered at DSMC. ATTRACTING COMMERCIAL SUPPLIERS Program managers and contracting officers need specific training on how to overcome the barriers that discourage commercial firms from doing business with DOD. This training is extremely important and is likely to become more of an issue over the next several years, because DOD lacks capabilities that the commercial sector has to offer. A good first step would be broad-based training on what latitude exists in current law and regulation to procure products and services from commercial companies. This could then be augmented with targeted training on subjects like intellectual property and commercial pricing. This type of training needs to touch the whole workforce so that government deals with private industry on a consistent basis. RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY FOR COMMERCIAL BUYING The DOD Acquisition Research Program should be used to develop additional tools to facilitate commercial buying. This program, which is already in place, should be directed toward the commercial sector and address high-payoff areas such as intellectual property and commercial pricing. The results of acquisition research should be fed into the DAU curricula. DOD needs to fully exploit ways of carrying out market research over the Internet and sharing lessons learned and best practices. The latter can by itself be an effective learning tool and become a way of doing business for all acquisition personnel. In summary, training focused on commercial practices is essential to achieving meaningful progress in ICMM. While training is an essential part of the implementation of ICMM, leadership and constant management attention to the difficult process of cultural change, including attention to clear and implementable policies, metrics, and incentives, are necessary as well. This change requires a somewhat radical approach, like the proposed commercial acquisition academy, because DOD and its acquisition workforce do not understand the commercial sector well enough to realize how it can be used to improve the capability of DOD systems and processes.
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