The Army Acquisition Workforce is our most important asset. Comprising more than 42,000 civilians, officers and noncommissioned officers, the workforce is essential to the successful execution of the acquisition process, providing our Soldiers with the decisive edge needed to dominate the mission today and in the future. Our workforce professionals labor tirelessly each day to equip our Soldiers with the most capable weapon systems and services available in a timely manner, while remaining good stewardsof taxpayer dollars.
My principal military deputy, LTG Bill Phillips, my principal civilian deputy, Mr. Gabe Camarillo, and I are continually amazed by the knowledge, professionalism, dedication and passion that these Army acquisition professionals bring to the mission every day. Our critical mission is to design, develop, deliver and sustain products and services that enable our Soldiers to dominate the battlefield today and tomorrow. Execution of this mission requires acquisition professionals to maintain current and relevant skills and expertise through training, increase experience through diverse career positions, and remain agile and adaptive to the changing acquisition “battlefield,” emerging technologies and fiscal constraints.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) of 1990 requires all acquisition workforce members to be certified. DAWIA was enacted to increase the professionalism of the Defense Acquisition Workforce. Certification requires Defense Acquisition University training specific to each career field; education; and functional experience. For the Army, certification opportunities exist in 14 different acquisition career fields (ACFs) at three different levels depending on the complexity of the position, each with a critically important role in the acquisition process.
LTG Phillips, who also serves as the Army director of acquisition career management, reviews the Army’s attainment of the required DAWIA certification quarterly in a forum made up of general officer and Senior Executive Service civilian leadership. This focus at the highest leadership levels ensures that DAWIA certification is commander’s business, and we have seen a significant increase in the Army’s certification rates since 2008 as a direct result. I applaud each and every Army leader and acquisition employee for the great progress made in achieving certification over the past several years. The Army
Acquisition Workforce leads the services and the Department of Defense with 93 percent of the workforce certified or within the allowable grace period and working toward certification. This is a huge accomplishment and reflects the great work of our acquisition employees and leaders. We must continue to set the standard for DOD.
While DAWIA certification is an important achievement, it cannot be the final goal of our Army Acquisition Workforce. The workforce must continue to take advantage of additional training and educationally broadening opportunities by enrolling in courses and continuous learning opportunities, sometimes in multiple ACFs, to develop secondary acquisition certifications.
The Army has multiple broadening opportunities available to the workforce, including developmental and rotational assignments, acquisition boot camps, acquisition leadership challenge programs at every level, the Competitive Development Group – Army Acquisition Fellowship Program, Advanced Civil Schooling, Training with Industry and Senior Service College Fellowships, to name a few.
Each of these opportunities requires acquisition professionals to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to grow. I strongly encourage acquisition leaders to promote these opportunities to the workforce, and I encourage the Army Acquisition Workforce to take personal initiative and accept the challenge to grow their skill sets and broaden their experiences through these and other opportunities.
Your Individual Development Plan is your tool to map out these opportunities with your supervisor. The big-picture
strategic perspective needed by future Army acquisition leaders is nearly impossible to garner from experience within one specific area. The Soldier and the Army Acquisition Workforce as a whole will benefit as each workforce member broadens his or her acquisition experiences and strives toward a strategic leadership role with these education, training and leadership development opportunities. We achieve better acquisition outcomes with a highly qualified and professional acquisition workforce.
In this environment of fiscal uncertainty and declining budgets, an agile, adaptive and creative workforce is just as critical as one that is skilled and experienced. Acquisition program success, today and in the future, requires creative thinking along with effective and efficient execution. Better Buying Power 2.0 provides initiatives that encourage the Defense Acquisition Workforce to think differently about existing standards and processes.
Oftentimes we propagate processes because of historical success; however, we now operate in a vastly different environment than we did in the past dozen years. As we transition from wartime to sustainment and plan to incorporate emerging technologies to address evolving potential future threats—under great fiscal constraint—the Army Acquisition Workforce must challenge themselves to think creatively to provide the best capability to the Soldier in a timely and affordable manner. As Winston Churchill said, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money; now we have to think.”
To continue to provide the best capability to the Soldier, we must continue to modernize the force, even with declining budgets. We must see to it that ourSoldiers maintain combat overmatch today and in the future.
Ensuring that our Soldiers are equipped for the future battlefield starts with building a strong foundation in our Army Acquisition Workforce. With nearly 31 percent of our civilian ArmyAcquisition Workforce eligible to retire now or within five years, we must fill the pending gap in knowledge and expertise that will result from the retirement of these critical workforce members. It will be a challenge to fill the gap representing the years and depth of experience we will lose with our retirees, but we can
start by hiring a technically educated workforce and offering opportunities for developmental experiences. Ensuring that our experienced acquisition workforce members transfer their knowledge and expertise by mentoring the more junior acquisition professionals will help bridge this gap and position us for the future.
It is important for the Army not only to maintain and grow the acquisition workforce as a whole, but also to grow and develop Army acquisition leaders. I encourage individuals to seize opportunities to understand the bigger picture outside their primary career field. I challenge future leaders to seekopportunities to be mentored. Established mentorship programs foster and cultivate relationships to provide less-experienced workforce members with opportunities to learn critical skill sets from those with more experience.
As acquisition leaders, we must continually encourage and incentivize our workforce to mentor the junior members, sharing experiences and knowledge, to ensure that a strong Army Acquisition Workforce is in place to support the Soldier. Our civilian acquisition workforce often provides the continuity and historical perspective during military rotations, and we must cultivate civilian leadersas well as military leaders in our Army Acquisition Corps.
I appreciate and admire the resilience and the continued passion and dedication that the Army Acquisition Workforce has for our mission to support the Soldier. The work you do on a daily basis makes a difference in the lives of our Soldiers. If you continue to seek opportunities outside your comfort zone, prepare yourself to be leaders and maintain your extraordinary work ethic, we will sustain our reputation as the best-trained acquisition workforce in the Department of Defense.