oversight

Acquisition Management: Agencies Can Improve Training on New Initiatives

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-01-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee
               on Technology and Procurement
               Policy, Committee on Government
               Reform, House of Representatives

January 2003
               ACQUISITION
               MANAGEMENT

               Agencies Can Improve
               Training on New
               Initiatives




GAO-03-281
                                               January 2003


                                               ACQUISITION MANAGEMENT

                                               Agencies Can Improve Training on New
Highlights of GAO-03-281, a report to the
Chairman, Subcommittee on Technology
                                               Initiatives
and Procurement Policy, House
Committee on Government Reform




The federal government is                      Industry and government experts alike recognize that training is a critical
dramatically changing the way it               tool in successfully implementing change. To deliver training effectively,
purchases goods and services by                leading organizations typically prioritize initiatives that are most important
relying more on judgment and                   to them, identify those needing training and set requirements, and ensure
initiative versus rigid rules for              that their training reaches the right people. Top leadership supports these
making purchasing decisions.
Congress has enacted a series of
                                               efforts by working to overcome resistance, marshalling resources, and
reforms to help the government                 building commitment to new ways of doing business. This approach, which
adapt to this environment.                     incorporates the six elements that have been identified as key to training
                                               success, helps to ensure that training is well planned rather than left to
GAO was asked to assess strategies             chance.
agencies are using to ensure that
their acquisition workforces are               This approach was not consistently evident at the agencies GAO reviewed.
receiving the training needed to               While agencies had efforts underway to make training available and raise
operate in a changing business                 awareness of major acquisition initiatives, they often did not have an
environment. In doing so, GAO                  identifiable process for assuring that training reached all those who played a
looked at the General Services                 role in successful implementation. For example, DOD and the Army
Administration (GSA), the National
Aeronautics and Space
                                               employed most elements of the approach in implementing training on one
Administration (NASA), and the                 acquisition initiative—performance-based contracting. In particular, they set
Department of Defense (DOD).                   training as a high priority and defined who would be targeted for training.
GAO also looked at the Federal                 But their use of the elements was not evident on another initiative GAO
Aviation Administration (FAA)                  examined. Similarly, the approach taken by GSA and NASA did not fully
because it is exempt from federal              incorporate the key elements GAO identified.
acquisition laws, giving it greater
flexibility and discretion.                    The approach taken by FAA was somewhat different. It created an
                                               organizational focal point to define a process and facilitate the management
                                               of its acquisition workforce, and it employed many of the key elements in its
                                               approach. For example, it created a special council of agency executives to
GAO is recommending that the
                                               establish priorities.
Office of Federal Procurement
Policy develop a policy that calls
on agencies to adopt the elements              Overall, GAO found that certain conditions tended to facilitate or hinder
of the approach used by leading                implementation of the key elements. For example, having a focal point that
organizations; establish a focal               could reach beyond the contracting community helped to ensure that
point that can reach beyond the                training was delivered to the right staff. Civilian agencies have not been
contracting community to set                   supported by an agency that coordinates training on governmentwide
training requirements; and                     initiatives. Procurement executives expressed the view that the Federal
integrate training into planning for           Acquisition Institute should fulfill this role for civilian agencies.
policy implementation.
                                               Key Elements for Acquisition Initiative Training
In response to a draft of this report,
                                                Prioritize initiatives so that the agency is     Tailor training so that staff get the training that
the Office of Federal Procurement               focused on training that is most relevant to its is most appropriate to them
Policy said that it would assess the            mission
current policy framework.                       Demonstrate top level commitment and provide Track training to ensure it reaches the right
                                                resources                                        people at the right time
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-281.
                                                Identify those needing training and set          Measure the effectiveness of training so that
                                                requirements so that training reaches the right  further improvements can be made
To view the full report, including the scope
                                                staff
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Dave Cooper at   Source: GAO.
(202) 512-4841 or cooperd@gao.gov.
Contents


Letter                                                                                              1
                       Results in Brief                                                             2
                       Background                                                                   4
                       Critical Elements for Acquisition Initiative Training                        5
                       Inconsistent Use of Key Elements by Agencies for Training on
                         Initiatives                                                                8
                       Conditions That Facilitate the Use of Key Elements for Acquisition
                         Initiative Training                                                      22
                       Conclusions                                                                24
                       Recommendations for Executive Action                                       24
                       Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                         25

Appendix I             Scope and Methodology                                                      27



Appendix II            Comments from the Department of Defense                                    29



Appendix III           Comments from the National Aeronautics and Space
                       Administration                                                             30



Appendix IV            GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                     33



Related GAO Products                                                                              34



Table
                       Table 1. Key Elements for Acquisition Training and Why They Are
                                Important                                                           6


Figures
                       Figure 1: Assessment of DOD’s Acquisition Training Approach                 9
                       Figure 2: Assessment of GSA’s Acquisition Training Approach                15
                       Figure 3: Assessment of NASA’s Acquisition Training Approach               17



                       Page i                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
Figure 4: Organizational Structure of the Associate Administrator
         for Research and Acquisitions and Participants in the
         Intellectual Capital Investment Plan Council                      20
Figure 5: Assessment of FAA’s Acquisition Training Approach                21




Abbreviations

DOD           Department of Defense
FAA           Federal Aviation Administration
GSA           General Services Administration
NASA          National Aeronautics and Space Administration
OMB           Office of Management and Budget




Page ii                              GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   January 15, 2003

                                   The Honorable Tom Davis
                                   Chairman, Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy
                                   Committee on Government Reform
                                   House of Representatives

                                   Dear Mr. Chairman:

                                   The federal government is dramatically changing the way it purchases
                                   goods and services. As it strives to maximize the value of the $200 billion it
                                   spends annually, it is increasingly emulating the practices of commercial
                                   industry. As a result, rigid rules have given way to practices that rely more
                                   on the judgment and initiative of the individuals that make up the
                                   acquisition workforce. To help the government adapt to this changing
                                   environment, Congress enacted a series of acquisition reform initiatives in
                                   the 1990s. To take full advantage of these and subsequent initiatives and to
                                   spend money wisely, agencies need to train their workforces to ensure
                                   they have the skills necessary to operate in a changing business
                                   environment.

                                   Our recent work on purchase cards highlighted what can happen when
                                   training is ill-planned. The use of purchase cards was greatly expanded in
                                   order to simplify small procurements, and many more people were
                                   provided with the authority to make purchases on the government’s
                                   behalf. Yet, at some Department of Defense (DOD) locations we reviewed,
                                   the expanded authority was not accompanied by appropriate training
                                   which, when coupled with poor internal controls and inadequate guidance,
                                   left DOD vulnerable to fraudulent, wasteful, or abusive purchases.1

                                   Because training is a critical element in achieving change, you asked us to
                                   assess the strategies agencies use to ensure that their workforces are
                                   receiving the training necessary to implement acquisition initiatives. To do
                                   this, we (1) identified elements of an approach to training that are critical
                                   to training on acquisition initiatives, (2) assessed the extent that agencies’


                                   1
                                    U.S. General Accounting Office, Control Weaknesses Leave Army Vulnerable to Potential
                                   Fraud and Abuse, GAO-02-863T (Washington, D.C.: July 17, 2002) and U.S. General
                                   Accounting Office, Control Weaknesses Leave Army Vulnerable to Fraud, Waste, and
                                   Abuse, GAO-02-844T (Washington, D.C.: July 17, 2002). Further purchase card testimony
                                   and report titles are at the back of this report.



                                   Page 1                                     GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                   strategies used these elements, and (3) identified conditions that facilitate
                   or hinder the use of the key elements in their approach to training on
                   acquisition initiatives. Our review focused on the General Services
                   Administration (GSA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
                   (NASA), and DOD. Together, these agencies represented 76 percent2 of
                   total contract dollars obligated in fiscal year 2001. We examined whether
                   agencies’ strategies for translating acquisition initiatives into training
                   incorporated the key elements. To gain an understanding of the process,
                   we examined how DOD, GSA, and NASA applied their approaches to
                   implementing a specific initiative, performance-based service contracting.3
                   In addition, at DOD we looked at another initiative, the use of commercial
                   and nondevelopmental items, because this initiative directly affects how
                   DOD acquires weapon systems. We also looked at the Federal Aviation
                   Administration (FAA) approach to training its workforce because its
                   acquisition management system is exempt from all federal acquisition
                   regulation and laws, giving it greater flexibility and discretion. We did not
                   assess the effectiveness of the training provided by the agencies we
                   reviewed. Further details on our objectives, scope, and methodology can
                   be found in appendix I.


                   Training is recognized by industry and government experts alike as a
Results in Brief   critical tool in successfully introducing, implementing, and reacting to
                   change. The critical elements important to acquisition initiative training
                   include (1) prioritizing the acquisition initiatives most important to the
                   agency, (2) securing top-level commitment and resources, (3) identifying
                   those who need training on specific initiatives, (4) tailoring training to
                   meet the needs of the workforce, (5) tracking training to ensure it reaches
                   the right people, and (6) measuring the effectiveness of training. Agencies
                   that do not focus their attention on these critical elements risk having an
                   acquisition workforce that is ill equipped to implement new processes.
                   The probability of success is higher if training is well planned rather than
                   left to chance.




                   2
                    As reported in the Federal Procurement Data System for fiscal year 2001. Excludes
                   construction dollars.
                   3
                    Under performance-based service contracting, the agency identifies the results it wants,
                   and the contractor decides on the best means to achieve the agency’s objective. See U.S.
                   General Accounting Office, Guidance Needed for Using Performance-Based Service
                   Contracting, GAO-02-1049 (Washington, D.C.: September 2002).




                   Page 2                                        GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
Our assessment of the strategies used by DOD, GSA, and NASA to train
their acquisition workforces on initiatives found that the agencies
generally lacked a well-defined process that fully incorporates all six
elements. Agencies had efforts underway to make training available and
raise awareness of major acquisition initiatives, but too often they did not
have an identifiable process for ensuring that training on significant
acquisition initiatives reached those who played a role in successful
implementation of the initiative.

DOD did not have an institutionalized approach that was applied
consistently. DOD and the Army employed most elements in implementing
one acquisition initiative—performance-based service contracting. For
example, it set training as a high priority in its policy implementation
directive and targeted training to the appropriate program, technical,
financial, and other personnel. However, the use of the elements was not
evident on another initiative we examined. Over the past year, DOD has
moved toward a process that gives the Defense Acquisition University a
greater role in training on new initiatives. GSA and NASA identified
performance-based contracting as an important initiative and made
training available through classroom and online learning opportunities.
However, many of the key elements were absent or not fully addressed in
their approach to training on new initiatives.

FAA’s approach was somewhat different than the other agencies we
reviewed. The Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisition
created an organizational focal point to define a process and facilitate the
management of their acquisition workforce. FAA employed many of the
key elements in its approach, principally by creating a special council of
agency executives within its acquisition and research organization to
establish priorities and target resources to acquisition initiatives it
assessed as a high priority.

Certain conditions tended to facilitate or hinder use of an approach that
incorporates the key elements. First, the presence of an organizational
focal point that could reach beyond the contracting community allowed
training to be targeted to staff in a range of career fields that are integral to
the success of an initiative, such as program, technical, and financial
personnel. Second, integrating training into the planning for policy
implementation supported an approach incorporating the key elements.
Finally, civilian agencies, unlike DOD, are not supported by a training
organization that develops or coordinates training resources on
governmentwide initiatives. The Federal Acquisition Institute, which is



Page 3                                  GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
             charged with supporting the civilian acquisition workforce, has not been
             engaged in training on acquisition initiatives.

             We make recommendations on specific steps that the Office of Federal
             Procurement Policy can take to facilitate a sound management approach
             to training on acquisition initiatives.


             For decades the federal government has been struggling with ways to
Background   make the acquisition process more efficient. During the 1990s, Congress
             enacted two key pieces of acquisition legislation that affected training: the
             Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act in 1990 for DOD and the
             Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 for civilian agencies. Both were enacted to
             improve the management of the acquisition workforce.

             In July 2002 GAO reported4 on agency efforts to define and train their
             workforces to meet the requirements of the Defense Acquisition
             Workforce Improvement Act and the Clinger-Cohen Act. Our report
             addressed the training requirements in these acts, that is, the training
             requirements employees must meet to qualify for specific workforce
             positions. Such training normally occurs during the first few years of an
             employee’s career. This report addresses another important element in
             successfully moving towards a changing business environment: training
             the relevant members of the workforce who have an integral role in the
             successful implementation of specific acquisition initiatives. The relevant
             workforce can include those in the contracting community, such as
             contracting officers and contracting officer technical representatives, as
             well as those outside the contracting community, such as program and
             financial managers.

             The Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act recognized
             acquisition as a multidisciplinary career field comprised of 11 functional
             areas, such as program management; engineering; procurement, including
             contracting issues; and logistics. In response to the act’s requirements,
             DOD set education, training, and experience requirements for the
             functional areas and established the Defense Acquisition University to
             provide its acquisition workforce with the professional development and




             4
              U.S. General Accounting Office, Agencies Need to Better Define and Track the Training
             of their Employees, GAO-02-737 (Washington, D.C.: July 2002).




             Page 4                                      GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                         training required to meet the standards for certification in specific
                         acquisition career fields.

                         Civilian agencies, under the Clinger-Cohen Act, are required, in
                         consultation with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, to establish
                         education, training, and experience requirements for their acquisition
                         workforces. In implementing the provisions of the Clinger-Cohen act, the
                         Office of Federal Procurement Policy issued policy letter 97-01, which
                         defined the acquisition workforce to include contracting and purchasing
                         specialists, contracting officers, contracting officer representatives, and
                         contracting officer technical representatives, as well as other positions “in
                         which significant acquisition-related functions are performed.” The act
                         creating the Office Of Federal Procurement Policy5 was amended to
                         establish the Federal Acquisition Institute, which, under the direction of
                         the Office Of Federal Procurement Policy, was to promote the
                         development and training of the acquisition workforce. The Federal
                         Acquisition Institute was charged with developing the core curriculum
                         needed to train the acquisition workforces of civilian agencies. The
                         Procurement Executives Council, an interagency body of procurement
                         executives, chartered a working group to provide advice and guidance to
                         the acquisition institute in developing its educational and career
                         management programs.



Critical Elements for
Acquisition Initiative
Training

                         Leading private and public organizations realize that their people largely
                         determine their capacity for success. Our past reviews show that the
                         training methods applied by leading commercial firms on new practices
                         are the result of a focused, institutionally driven approach. This approach
                         recognizes that workforces are the key to successfully implementing
                         change and that training is a critical element in the process.



                         5
                          The Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act, P.L. 93-400, codified in 41U.S.C.§401 et seq.
                         The act created the Office Of Federal Procurement Policy within the Office of Management
                         and Budget to provide governmentwide leadership to agencies in procurement matters.




                         Page 5                                        GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                                                In 1999,6 we reported on how leading commercial organizations train their
                                                acquisition workforces on changing practices and how DOD would benefit
                                                from employing this approach to commercial best practices. We have also
                                                reported on how high performing organizations develop and manage their
                                                workforces. (A list of these GAO products is at the back of this report.)
                                                Based on this information, we identified and developed some key elements
                                                of an approach to training the relevant workforce on acquisition initiatives
                                                that we believe are crucial to successful implementation of acquisition
                                                initiatives. These elements and their importance are summarized in table 1.

Table 1. Key Elements for Acquisition Training and Why They Are Important

Key Element                                         Importance
Prioritize initiatives most important to an         Focuses on those acquisition initiatives that are most relevant to accomplishing the
agency                                              agency’s mission
Demonstrate top-level commitment and                Emphasizes to managers, trainers, and implementers the importance of the initiative
provide resources                                   and the necessary support to sustain reform efforts
Identify those needing training and set             Targets training to those who are integral to the success of an initiative
training requirements
Tailor training to meet the needs of the            Recognizes that acquisition staff with different functions or at different levels may need
workforce                                           customized training
Track training to ensure it reaches the right       Increases the chances of having the right people with the right skills available when
people at the right time                            needed to implement acquisition initiatives
Measure the effectiveness of training               Links training to agency results, demonstrates improved individual and organization
                                                    performance, and provides feedback for adjusting or redefining acquisition initiative
                                                    training
                                                Source: GAO.


                                                We list prioritizing initiatives first because it sets the stage for employing
                                                the other elements. Prioritizing initiatives signals an agency’s top-level
                                                commitment and allows it to concentrate its resources on initiatives
                                                deemed important to meeting its goals and missions and encourages it to
                                                better define the target population that needs training on a specific
                                                initiative. In conjunction with setting priorities, one of the most important
                                                elements is the demonstrated commitment of leaders to change. Top
                                                leadership involvement in making improvements is critical to overcoming
                                                an organization’s natural resistance to change, marshalling the resources
                                                needed, and building an agencywide commitment to new ways of doing
                                                business. Our 1999 report found, in general, that leading commercial firms
                                                committed to and adopted seven or fewer key practices at any given time.



                                                6
                                                 U.S. General Accounting Office, DOD Training Can Do More to Help Weapon System
                                                Programs Implement Best Practice, GAO/NSIAD-99-206 (Washington, D.C.: August 1999).




                                                Page 6                                            GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
One firm adopted only one or two, which enabled it to concentrate and
target its resources to those employees most in need of training.

Identifying those who need in-depth training on a specific initiative is
important because not all members of the workforce need training on
every initiative and providing that level of training would be an inefficient
use of resources. While awareness training (i.e., letting the workforce
know of impending change) may be appropriate for the workforce in
general, agencies need to identify those members of the workforce who
are relevant to the success of an initiative for in-depth training. Training
requirements need to be set and appropriately tailored to target the
various groups involved in implementing change. As we noted in our 1999
report, the commercial companies with whom we spoke did not leave it to
chance that those needing training will avail themselves of the
opportunity.

In July 2002 we reported on the progress agencies were making in tracking
the career education and continuous learning requirements of their
acquisition employees. We reported that DOD and the military services use
a centralized information system that is automatically updated with
training and personnel data. Civilian agencies currently use less
sophisticated programs to collect and maintain information on education,
training, and continuing education, commonly relying on spreadsheets for
tracking training. As of November 2002, a Web-based management
information system to track training was being piloted by several federal
agencies. A system to track the training received by those integral to the
success of an acquisition initiative is important to ensure that the right
people are getting the right training.

Because training strategies interact with other strategies and factors in
attempting to change people and organizations, it is difficult to isolate the
performance improvements resulting from training and development
efforts. High-performing organizations, however, recognize the importance
of assessing the results achieved from their training investments to
determine whether they improved organizational and individual
performance. It is important for agencies to have some way of measuring
the results of acquisition training and the amounts of resources expended.
As part of a balanced approach, agency assessments of acquisition training
efforts would consider feedback from customers, employees, and
organizational results.

Officials of the Procurement Executives Council, the Office of Federal
Procurement Policy, the Director of the Federal Acquisition Institute, and


Page 7                                 GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                        others agreed that the elements we focused on embody sound,
                        fundamental management principles. Officials believe implementing these
                        elements by blending them into initiative training efforts, rather than
                        leaving training to chance, can help agencies ensure that their relevant
                        workforces have the skills to contribute to the success of acquisition
                        initiatives.


                        DOD, GSA, and NASA generally lack an approach for training on
Inconsistent Use of     acquisition initiatives that fully incorporates the six key elements. The
Key Elements by         agencies we reviewed varied in the extent they used the critical elements
                        for training on acquisition initiatives, and none had fully implemented all
Agencies for Training   six. Most of the elements were evident in DOD’s implementation of one
on Initiatives          initiative—performance-based services contracting—but the approach
                        was not consistently applied. DOD has modified its approach over the past
                        year by expanding the role of the Defense Acquisition University, and the
                        revised process incorporates more of the elements. GSA and NASA relied
                        on making training available to staff without a formal system for clearly
                        defining priorities, identifying which staff need training, or easily tracking
                        who has been trained.

                        The FAA created the Intellectual Capital Investment Plan Council to meet
                        the development needs of staff in its research and acquisition organization.
                        FAA’s approach differs significantly from that used by other agencies, and
                        its method employs most of the key elements we identified.

                        While there was variance among the four agencies on most of the key
                        elements, agencies used similar approaches to evaluating the effectiveness
                        of training. Agencies generally relied on post-course student-generated
                        evaluations that measure the extent to which the training met learners’
                        expectations, was relevant to their work, and would help them do a better
                        job in the future. For the most part, they did not obtain feedback from
                        customers or assess organizational results.


DOD’s Approach to       In DOD, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and
Acquisition Workforce   Logistics has control over all aspects of the acquisition workforce.7 From
Training                this position, the Under Secretary can prioritize initiatives and target
                        training to staff in a wide range of career fields and organizations. Within


                        7
                            10 U.S.C.§1702




                        Page 8                                 GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
the Under Secretary’s office, the Acquisition Initiatives organization plays
a critical role in policy development.8 While the organizational framework
is conducive to using the key elements, we found that results were
inconsistent, demonstrating that the approach has not been
institutionalized. DOD’s implementation of one initiative we reviewed—
performance-based service acquisition—largely addressed the key
elements. However, for another initiative—use of commercial and
nondevelopmental items—most elements were not fully addressed. Our
assessment of DOD’s approach is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Assessment of DOD’s Acquisition Training Approach




8
 This office is being merged with another organization and reorganized. As of December
2002, the structure and functional responsibilities of this office were not available.




Page 9                                      GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
Key elements present in
implementing
performance-based service
contracting

                            DOD as well as the Office Of Federal Procurement Policy recognized that
                            performance-based service contracting offered an approach for improving
                            the government’s purchases of services. However, performance-based
                            contracting represents a fundamental change in how the government
                            acquires services. Before such contracting, the government commonly
                            specified the tasks it wanted performed. With performance-based
                            contracting, the government identifies the results it wants and the
                            contractor decides upon the best means to achieve the agency’s
                            objectives. Performance-based service acquisition requires that program,
                            technical, contracting, and other staff work together to carefully define the
                            desired results.

                            Recognizing this, the Under Secretary issued a policy memorandum setting
                            goals for the use of performance-based service contracting.9 The Under
                            Secretary directed that within one year organizations were to train the
                            relevant workforce in performance-based contracting. Thus, the Under
                            Secretary linked training to the policy implementation process. The policy
                            memorandum noted that training resources were available in the form of
                            Web-based and on-site training courses specifically developed for DOD by
                            commercial firms and that the DOD Change Management Center would, as
                            requested, present real-time “how to” training sessions on writing
                            performance-based service contract statements of work.




                            9
                             The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established greater use of performance-
                            based contracts as one of several governmentwide reforms to be highlighted by the
                            President in the fiscal year 2002 budget. OMB created a goal of awarding not less than 20
                            percent of contracts over $25,000 using performance-based methods for fiscal year 2002.
                            See OMB Memorandum M-01-15.




                            Page 10                                       GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
The Army mirrored DOD’s process. The Army Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued memoranda linking
policy and training and sending a signal to trainers and implementers
about the importance of the initiative. The letters to major commands
defined the core workforce as contracting officers, contracting officer
representatives, program managers, and others.

In response to this top-level direction, Army components undertook
efforts to get relevant staff trained on performance-based contracting. At
the Army Communication–Electronics Command, for example, the
commanding general instructed each component to identify and train the
relevant workforce on performance-based service contracting and to
report progress quarterly. All contracting officers in the command’s
acquisition organization were required to become current in performance-
based service contracting because, according to officials, the organization
provides contracting services based on a team concept to many different
groups. According to command officials, the command also recognized
that the success of performance-based contracting depended to a large
extent on training relevant staff in various functional areas outside the
contracting function, such as program management and logistics. Other
command components, such as the Software Engineering Center, were
required to identify those important to developing and monitoring a
performance-based contract, such as engineers, requirements setters, and
program managers. Training of these staff was mandatory and training
progress reported on a quarterly basis to the command. In training staff,
the command relied heavily on the on-line Web-based course developed by
the National Association of Purchasing Managers/National Contract
Management Association. The command also made onsite training courses
available and employed a number of other training techniques such as
Web-based knowledge centers, e-mails, and brief presentations by subject
matter experts.




Page 11                              GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
Some key elements not
evident in DOD’s training on
commercial and non-
developmental items




                               Expanding the use of commercial and nondevelopmental items is a
                               complex issue. It requires that program and technical staff be
                               knowledgeable about the standards used in the commercial market and
                               have the skill to conduct market research on what is available in the
                               commercial market place. Contracting officers need an understanding of
                               commercial pricing practices. The absence of a well thought out and
                               carefully targeted approach to training on this complex initiative leaves it
                               too much to chance that the right people are benefiting from the training
                               offered on this issue.

                               DOD has repeatedly recognized the importance of acquiring commercial
                               items to leverage the massive technology investment of the private sector
                               and exploit the potential for reduced development times, faster insertion
                               of new technologies, and lower life cycle costs. For example, in a June
                               2000 memorandum, the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and
                               Logistics emphasized the importance of this initiative and suggested that
                               training acquisition staff in various functional areas would be necessary
                               for its successful implementation. The Under Secretary’s memorandum
                               suggested training program managers in market research and training
                               contracting and financial management personnel in commercial buying
                               practices. However, in making these suggestions, the document does not
                               provide a listing of what training courses are available nor does it set
                               training requirements. Other policy documents on commercial and
                               nondevelopmental items do not set training requirements.




                               DOD and the Services make available numerous training aids on
                               commercials items acquisitions developed by DOD and commercial firms,


                               Page 12                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                              including guidebooks, Web-based knowledge centers, and distance
                              learning courses on market research, and have incorporated information
                              into the curriculum for career development (i.e., certification training).
                              However, beyond career development training, acquisition staff must seek
                              out this training. For example, Army Communication and Electronics
                              Command officials said that while they have a commercial items
                              knowledge center, training is not targeted to specific communities, such as
                              contracting or program management staff, and is not mandatory. Unlike
                              the approach for performance-based service contracting, the command
                              does not specifically identify who needs training on commercial and
                              nondevelopmental items.

The Defense Acquisition       DOD officials told us that they adopted GAO recommendations contained
University is taking a more   in our 1999 report in the plans for restructuring the Defense Acquisition
active role in training on    University. To improve its ability to train the work force on best practices,
initiatives                   DOD revised its continuous learning program, which provides training
                              opportunities to staff who have completed career management training.10

                              Officials from the Acquisition Initiatives office (recently merged into a new
                              organization named the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy
                              office) believe that the continuous learning approach will be an effective
                              way to provide training on reform initiatives. They pointed out that many
                              of the career and continuous learning courses on reform initiatives are
                              interchangeable and can be used for career-level training as well as
                              continuous learning.

                              DOD also told us that it now has an outreach and communication template
                              to aid in identifying the audience that needs to be aware of an initiative
                              and recently brought in experts to help determine specific methods of
                              delivery (e.g., e-mail message, handbook, hands-on training, Web-based
                              training) to those audiences. According to acquisition office officials, DOD
                              is also developing a process to leverage continuous learning modules
                              created by the Services, industry, the Defense Procurement and
                              Acquisition Policy office, and the Defense Acquisition University to ensure
                              that there is no duplication of effort and to look for cost-sharing
                              opportunities. Under the restructuring, the University will receive specific
                              requirements to develop continuous learning modules through input from
                              the Curriculum Development Support Center and the advisors for each of



                              10
                                Staff who have completed career management training are required to take a certain
                              number of hours of training each year.




                              Page 13                                     GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                        the acquisition career fields. According to DOD, these requirements will be
                        prioritized and sent to a decision board called the Career Management
                        Overarching Integrated Process Team led by the Director, Acquisition
                        Education, Training and Career Development. Implementation of this
                        process began in 2002.

                        This process more clearly links initiatives to training and sets priorities.
                        However, other elements are not fully addressed. In particular, the process
                        does not address whether the continuous learning modules would include
                        the kind of in-depth training associated with introducing significant
                        changes or how those needing in-depth training, as opposed to awareness
                        training, would be identified. The process also does not identify what
                        organizations would identify who needs this type of training and set
                        training requirements for specific initiatives.



GSA’s Approach to       GSA has made efforts to improve awareness of acquisition initiatives. It
Acquisition Workforce   established the Office of Acquisition Workforce Transformation in 2001 to
Training                develop new training options and assess the skills of GSA’s acquisition
                        workforce. It also expanded the use of Web-based tools to make training
                        more accessible. However, as shown in figure 2, many of the elements we
                        identified are not evident in GSA’s approach to training on acquisition
                        initiatives. Instead, GSA has relied on making training available to staff
                        without a system for clearly defining priorities, identifying which staff
                        need training, or easily tracking who has been trained.




                        Page 14                               GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
Figure 2: Assessment of GSA’s Acquisition Training Approach




GSA’s acquisition organization does not have a centralized process to
systematically prioritize acquisition initiatives. Officials in GSA’s Federal
Technology Service stated that training based in regional offices is
prioritized by the individual GSA services, relying on their own
interpretations of acquisition regulations and administration policy.
Officials said they emphasized performance-based service contracting
because of the goals established by the administration. Implementation of
these policies was left to GSA’s major components.

Presently, GSA does not have a process to identify professionals who need
training on specific initiatives. Moreover, the headquarters acquisition
organization has authority only over those included in GSA’s definition of
its acquisition workforce: those professionals who hold warrants
authorizing them to purchase goods and services, contracting officers,
contracting officer technical representatives, property disposal
professionals, and purchasing and procurement personnel. Technical,
financial, or other professionals who may also be relevant to the
successful implementation of acquisition initiatives are not included.



Page 15                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                        In the case of performance-based service contracting, Federal Technology
                        Service officials said they relied on supervisors to ensure that staff
                        involved with performance-based service contracting received training.
                        However, the Federal Technology Service encouraged contracting and
                        other technical staff to take training. In some cases they offered tailored
                        training and were aware of customized training needs for information
                        technology staff. The training was not made mandatory for staff in
                        particular fields or roles.




                        GSA, however, does not have a system to track who has received training
                        on acquisition initiatives. Regional officials said that an in-depth personnel
                        file review would have to be conducted to acquire data on acquisition
                        initiative training. The agency is currently participating in a
                        governmentwide system pilot for the Acquisition Career Management
                        Information System, which will monitor standardized training and
                        certification information on the GSA acquisition workforce as well as be
                        available to support other agencies. While the system will track the GSA
                        acquisition workforce and its accomplishments, plans do not call for
                        tracking relevant professionals outside GSA’s currently defined acquisition
                        workforce.

                        GSA is currently altering the way in which it will evaluate and educate its
                        acquisition workforce. The Office of Acquisition Workforce
                        Transformation plans to pilot a new assessment and training program
                        beginning in January 2003. While the program is intended to help GSA take
                        a more focused approach to acquisition workforce training, particularly
                        career development training, it is too early to assess the new program or to
                        tell whether it will help GSA improve the way in which it approaches
                        training on acquisition initiatives or measures the effectiveness of training.


NASA’s Approach to      NASA also has made efforts to educate staff about initiatives such as
Acquisition Workforce   performance-based contracting. Additionally, officials believed that top-
Training                level commitment was evident and added that there was sufficient funding
                        for acquisition initiative training. However, a well developed approach to




                        Page 16                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
acquisition workforce training, incorporating the elements identified by
GAO, is lacking, as shown in figure 3.

Figure 3: Assessment of NASA’s Acquisition Training Approach




Although NASA does not have a formal system for prioritizing acquisition
initiatives, the agency does take action, such as through Web-based
communications and training, to inform and educate the acquisition
workforce about acquisition initiatives it perceives as important to the
agency’s mission. For example, to raise employee awareness and agency
implementation of performance-based service contracting, NASA
headquarters offered an initial orientation to employees at headquarters,
Goddard Space Center, and other centers. It embedded performance-
based service contracting in existing courses and formed a training
committee to identify the center’s training needs. Moreover, the desire for
improving implementation of performance-based contracting led NASA
management to initiate an internal review led by an Office of Procurement
team in 1999. The review recommended changes in the performance-based
service contracting training system such as identifying training that can be
customized.



Page 17                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
NASA does not use a defined process to identify personnel who should
receive training on acquisition initiatives and does not mandate training
beyond certification requirements. Instead, NASA relies on its centers to
identify staff who need training. At Goddard, officials said that career
development officers identify procurement professionals who should be
trained, although no one is responsible for identifying other professionals
who may benefit from training on acquisition initiatives. NASA defines its
acquisition workforce as certified procurement professionals and
procurement clerks and does not include in the definition other technical
or program professionals who may be relevant to the implementation of an
acquisition initiative. Officials stated, however, that performance-based
service contracting training is made available to professionals outside the
procurement field; for example, program managers and engineers.

Although NASA received assistance in developing some initial training on
performance-based service contracting from the Navy and the Defense
Acquisition University, it tailored the training to NASA personnel. Goddard
also offered a 5-day performance-based service contracting course tailored
to specific personnel such as administrators and specialists, project and
program managers, and contracting officer technical representatives.
Officials also said that other training is usually customized to be center-
specific.




NASA does not have a centralized system for tracking who has been
trained. Each center is responsible for tracking its own training. At
Goddard, officials use employees’ individual development plans and
center-specific databases to track staff training. Short of a comprehensive
review of personnel records, this system does not allow management
officials to identify relevant, noncertified professionals who have received
training. In the future, the system being piloted by GSA will be available to
NASA to support tracking of training.

NASA makes some effort to go beyond course assessments to evaluate the
effectiveness of training. It reports surveying its program managers to
assess the quality of service provided.


Page 18                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
FAA’s Research and
Acquisitions Organization
Approach to Acquisition
Workforce Training


                            The FAA’s Associate Administrator for Research and Acquisitions has a
                            unique approach for managing its acquisition workforce, one that provides
                            a framework for implementing many of the six key elements. In October
                            1997, the Intellectual Capital Investment Plan Council was created to
                            address the organization’s workforce development needs. Creation of the
                            Council followed enactment of legislation11 that exempted FAA’s new
                            acquisition management system from all federal acquisition regulation and
                            laws. Responsibility for developing and managing this system was vested
                            in the Office of Research and Acquisitions, headed by an associate
                            administrator, as shown in figure 4.




                            11
                              The Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1996,
                            section 348 of P.L. 104-50.




                            Page 19                                     GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
Figure 4: Organizational Structure of the Associate Administrator for Research and
Acquisitions and Participants in the Intellectual Capital Investment Plan Council




The Director of the Office of Business Management heads the council,
which is composed of directors and deputy directors from each of the
offices as well as the Chief Scientist for Human Factors. Each year the
council prepares an investment plan that prioritizes initiatives and
allocates funding for the associate administrator’s workforce planning and
development. The council also provides a focal point to facilitate the
management of workforce development.

In recent years, the council identified and prioritized initiatives that it saw
as important to its research and acquisitions organization, such as an
emphasis on integration of human factors into system design. It did not
prioritize performance-based service contracting as a priority.




Page 20                                  GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
The figure below shows how closely the associate administrator office’s
training approach incorporates the elements critical to acquisition
initiative training that we identified.

Figure 5: Assessment of FAA’s Acquisition Training Approach




One council goal is to “establish investment priorities to support the
required workforce changes.”12 The council gives the research and
acquisitions organization a structure for comprehensively reviewing and
funding acquisition workforce training initiatives.

The acquisition organization targets training to specific groups of
professionals. These groups encompass an array of disciplines, including
scientists, engineers, business managers, financial analysts, and
contracting officers, as well as other critical roles identified by the council.
However, while the organization strongly encourages training, it does not
mandate training on initiatives.


12
     1998 Intellectual Capital Investment Plan.




Page 21                                           GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                             Training is often tailored to staff in different roles or disciplines. For
                             example, when the FAA introduced its new acquisition system, it offered
                             an overview course and later developed courses of different lengths to
                             accommodate different professional needs. Additionally, the organization
                             has developed its own tracking system that allows training coordinators to
                             query it and identify who has received training on specific initiatives.


                             Our discussions with agency officials and the input we received from the
Conditions That              Procurement Executives Council highlighted certain conditions that
Facilitate the Use of        facilitate using the elements in an approach to training on acquisition
                             initiatives. The absence of these conditions may limit the capability of
Key Elements for             agencies to implement acquisition initiatives for the relevant workforce.
Acquisition Initiative       These conditions include:
Training                 •   establishing an organizational focal point with authority over the wide
                             range of personnel who are involved in the acquisition process,
                         •   integrating training into the planning for policy implementation, and
                         •   using the Federal Acquisition Institute to coordinate and facilitate training
                             on governmentwide initiatives.

                             First, having an organizational focal point with the authority to reach
                             beyond the contracting community to other disciplines, such as program
                             managers and requirements setters, facilitates using the six key elements
                             in an approach to training on acquisition initiatives. Implementing some
                             acquisition initiatives draws on staff from a range of functions and career
                             fields. For example, conducting a successful performance-based service
                             acquisition requires careful evaluation of real needs and requirements so
                             that a statement of objectives can be developed that identifies the results
                             or outcomes the agency is trying to realize from a particular acquisition.
                             Participation by those developing the requirement is central to this effort.
                             Thus, successful implementation of performance-based service
                             contracting requires participation by users as well as other program,
                             financial, legal, and related staff.

                             Both FAA and DOD have such a focal point. FAA established the
                             Intellectual Capital Investment Plan Council, which is made up of
                             directors and deputy directors of its acquisition and research programs.
                             Within DOD, the Office of the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology
                             and Logistics has authority for DOD acquisition. Both organizations have
                             authority over the range of career fields that are engaged in the acquisition
                             process.



                             Page 22                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
In contrast, civilian agencies commonly define the acquisition workforce
in terms of contracting personnel. This is true in the case of NASA and
GSA as well as Health and Human Services, an agency we discussed in our
July 2002 report.

While this approach complies with some of the Clinger-Cohen Act’s
requirements, which state that the acquisition workforce should include
contracting and procurement specialists, agencies have not expanded their
definitions to include all positions in which “significant acquisition-related
functions are performed,” as required by the act. Failing to expand the
definition limits the ability of acquisition officials to target training to
personnel outside the contracting function. Our July 2002 report
recommended that the Office of Federal Procurement Policy work with
agencies to further refine the definition of the acquisition workforce.

Second, integrating training into implementation plans also facilitates this
approach. Among the cases we examined, DOD’s and the Army’s
implementation of performance-based service contracting included many
of the six key elements. A central feature of this initiative was the
recognition that performance-based service contracting represented a
significant change in the way services were acquired and that training the
relevant workforce would be necessary to define service requirements
effectively. The policy memorandum of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, which set a goal of increasing
performance-based service contracting, established a requirement that the
relevant workforce be trained within a year. This contrasted with the
approach used on expanding the use of commercial and
nondevelopmental items. Although the use of commercial and
nondevelopmental items was emphasized and communicated in
memorandums, an implementation strategy was not formalized and
training requirements were not set.

Finally, civilian agencies have not been supported by an organization that
coordinates training on governmentwide initiatives. The Federal
Acquisition Institute supports civilian agency training of the acquisition
workforce. However, over the last several years the institute has focused
on career management issues. Although involved in awareness training,
such as conferences and lunchtime seminars, officials told us the institute
has not been funded to develop training resources to support the
implementation of new initiatives. Members of the Procurement
Executives Council, in commenting on the key elements we developed,
noted that adequate resources were needed and stated that the Federal



Page 23                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                      Acquisition Institute “should be sufficiently funded to lead
                      governmentwide training efforts on procurement reforms.”

                      While the Office of Federal Procurement Policy provides policy direction
                      to the Federal Acquisition Institute, the institute is located in and receives
                      support from GSA. Recently, GSA began a process of outsourcing the
                      functions of the Federal Acquisition Institute. This restructuring is
                      intended to revitalize and refocus acquisition training within the federal
                      government and to improve the institute's effectiveness in acquisition
                      workforce development and management. The outsourcing process is
                      expected to give the Procurement Executives Council a stronger role in
                      setting priorities for the institute, although no plan or agreement has been
                      developed to define and formalize this role.

                      Leading organizations employ many key elements that provide assurance
Conclusions           that the right people will have the right skills to implement change. Such
                      an approach is not consistently evident at the agencies we reviewed. We
                      believe that it should be. As the government continues to undertake
                      reforms aimed at making itself a more commercial-like buyer, it cannot
                      afford to leave it to chance that people are getting the necessary training
                      to make this transformation. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy,
                      which provides government leadership for agencies on procurement
                      matters, is in a good position to take a proactive role in promoting the key
                      elements across federal agencies and to ensure that civilian agencies have
                      a strong role in setting priorities for the Federal Acquisition Institute. Such
                      actions would be consistent with the emphasis the President’s
                      management agenda places on human capital.


                      We recommend that the Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement
Recommendations for   Policy, develop a policy that calls on agencies to
Executive Action
                  •   establish an approach to training on new acquisition initiatives that
                      includes (1) prioritizing the initiatives most important to the agency,
                      (2) demonstrating top-level commitment and providing necessary
                      resources, (3) identifying those who need training on specific initiatives,
                      (4) tailoring training to meet the needs of the workforce, (5) tracking
                      training to ensure it reaches the right people, and (6) measuring the
                      effectiveness of training;
                  •   establish a focal point that sets training requirements for staff integral to
                      the success of acquisition initiatives, including those outside the
                      contracting community; and




                      Page 24                                 GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                     •   integrate training into the planning for policy implementation.

                         We also recommend that the Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement
                         Policy, define the role of agency procurement executives in setting
                         priorities for the restructured Federal Acquisition Institute.


                         The Office of Federal Procurement Policy provided official oral comments
Agency Comments          on a draft of this report. DOD and NASA provided written comments that
and Our Evaluation       are included in appendixes II and III. Neither FAA nor GSA provided
                         official written or oral comments.

                         The Office of Federal Procurement Policy stated, in response to the
                         report’s first recommendation, that it will review the current policy
                         framework to see whether additional guidance is needed to insure that
                         agencies provide appropriate training to the acquisition workforce. In
                         response to the second recommendation, the Office of Federal
                         Procurement Policy stated that it is closely following the restructuring of
                         the Federal Acquisition Institute and will work with the procurement
                         community to be sure that the Institute will meet the training needs of the
                         acquisition workforce. Given the gaps we identified in agencies’ training
                         approaches, we believe that changes are needed in the current policy
                         framework to incorporate best commercial practices and prepare the
                         workforce for new challenges.

                         DOD agreed that the report’s assessment of its training efforts on the two
                         initiatives is valid. DOD disagreed with the statement that its outreach and
                         communication template does not address how those needing in-depth
                         training, as opposed to awareness training, would be identified. While
                         DOD’s statement may reflect what is intended with the template, the
                         template itself only asks for the identification of the intended audience for
                         outreach efforts without specifically discussing the audience needing
                         different types of training.

                         NASA commented that it was pleased that the report recognized efforts to
                         educate staff about initiatives such as performance based contracting and
                         stated that the articulation for the first time of the “key element” standards
                         will assist federal agencies’ future development of more effective training
                         programs in the vitally important area of acquisition. NASA also stated
                         that it believed that the agency was closer to meeting the high process
                         development standard in the other elements than was recognized in the
                         report and highlighted four areas of activity in support of that statement.



                         Page 25                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
We reviewed NASA’s comments, but we do not believe a change in our
assessment is appropriate since our evaluation indicates that, while
selected initiatives have followed a process that incorporates many of the
key elements, NASA does not have a well-defined, identifiable process that
fully addresses these elements.


As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution of it until 30 days from
the date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to other interested
congressional committees, the secretaries of Defense and Transportation,
and the administrators of General Services Administration, the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Office of Federal
Procurement Policy. We will also make copies available to others upon
request. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on the GAO
Web site at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have questions about this report, please contact me at
(202) 512-4125. Key contributors to this report are listed in appendix IV.

Sincerely yours,




David E. Cooper
Director
Acquisition and Sourcing Management




Page 26                                GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology


                To identify and develop the critical elements important to acquisition
                workforce training that are cited in this report, we conducted an extensive
                review and analysis of past GAO human capital and best practices reports.
                Appendix II provides a comprehensive list of relevant GAO reports we
                evaluated. We also reviewed private-sector studies and commercial
                training organization and federal agency Web sites for information on
                training approaches. Additionally, we consulted with other organizations
                that are engaged in acquisition initiative training issues. We solicited
                comments on the six key elements from the Director, Defense
                Procurement; the Director, Federal Acquisition Institute; the Chairman of
                the Procurement Executives Council’s Acquisition Workforce Committee;
                officials of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy; and GSA’s Deputy
                Associate Administrator for Acquisition Policy. In their comments, these
                officials generally agreed that the six key elements we identified
                represented fundamentally sound management principles.

                To assess whether the agencies in this review addressed the key elements
                we identified, we analyzed the degree to which each agency has developed
                a process that uses the elements important to acquisition workforce
                training. Within DOD we conducted a detailed examination of the Army,
                and at the Army, GSA, and NASA we followed the process through at a
                subordinate organization, contacting the Federal Technology Service at
                GSA, Goddard Space Center at NASA, and the Army’s Communications–
                Electronics Command in Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. We assessed FAA’s
                Research and Acquisitions organization because it is exempt from federal
                acquisition regulation and laws and uses a different approach to managing
                its acquisition workforce. Additionally, we reviewed and analyzed a wide
                range of documents, including guidance and policy memoranda, reports,
                fact sheets, course attendance rosters, workforce plans, and human capital
                and workforce studies. We also obtained agency and training information
                from federal and commercial Web sites. We also consulted with numerous
                officials representing the following organizations:

            •   Department of Defense
            •   Department of the Army
            •   Department of the Navy
            •   Department of the Air Force
            •   General Services Administration
            •   National Aeronautics and Space Administration
            •   Federal Aviation Administration
            •   Office of Federal Procurement Policy
            •   Procurement Executives Council
            •   Federal Acquisition Institute


                Page 27                               GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
    Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




•   Defense Acquisition University

    To identify the conditions that facilitate or hamper the implementation of
    the six key elements we identified, we analyzed officials’ comments and
    input on the six elements and incorporated some of this feedback into our
    report. We also analyzed the results of our discussions with agency
    officials and compared this to acquisition workforce information obtained
    from earlier GAO reports and other documents. We did not evaluate the
    effectiveness of agency training programs.

    Our review was conducted from October 2001 through September 2002 in
    accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




    Page 28                               GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
             Appendix II: Comments from the Department
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             of Defense



of Defense




             Page 29                                     GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                            Appendix III: Comments from the National Aeronautics and
Appendix III: Comments from the National
                            Space Administration



Aeronautics and Space Administration

Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in
the report text appear at
the end of this appendix.




See comment 1.




See comment 2.




                                         Page 30                                       GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                 Appendix III: Comments from the National Aeronautics and
                 Space Administration




See comment 3.




See comment 4.




                              Page 31                                       GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
               Appendix III: Comments from the National Aeronautics and
               Space Administration




                          The following are GAO’s comments on the National Aeronautics and Space
                          Administration letter dated December 20, 2002.


                          1. The instruction contains only cursory references to training. It does not
GAO Comments              define, for example, a process to identify and obtain training resources, set
                          training requirements, identify those who need to be trained, track who
                          received training, or monitor the effectiveness of training.

                          2. NASA’s pilot approach is fully consistent with the key elements
                          presented in our report. At an appropriate point in the pilot implementation
                          process, the agency needs to assess what training is suitable for particular
                          staff involved in each initiative.

                          3. While NASA’s attention to performance based contracting was positive,
                          NASA’s review did not measure the effectiveness of training but rather
                          highlighted the frustration expressed by NASA personnel over the absence
                          of high quality training in specific areas.

                          4. The existence of a well thought-out training strategy in these areas is
                          laudable. However, NASA’s strategy does not go far enough in the
                          development of a process that can be applied to acquisition workforce
                          training. Our assessment focused on whether a well-defined process
                          existed for developing a training strategy on all important initiatives.




                            Page 32                                       GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
                  Appendix IV: GAO Contacts and Staff
Appendix IV: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  David Cooper, (202) 512-4125
GAO Contacts      Karen Zuckerstein, (202) 512-6785


                  In addition to those named above, Kimberley Ebner, Ralph Roffo, Jeffrey
Acknowledgments   Rose, Sylvia Schatz, Paul Schearf, and Richard Silveira made key
                  contributions to this report.




                  Page 33                               GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
             Related GAO Products
Related GAO Products


             Acquisition Workforce: Status of Agency Efforts to Address Future
             Needs. GAO-03-55. Washington, D.C.: December 18, 2002.

             Contract Management: Guidance Needed for Using Performance Based
             Service Contracting. GAO-02-1049. Washington, D.C.: September 23, 2002.

             Acquisition Workforce: Agencies Need to Better Define and Track the
             Training of their Employees. GAO-02-737. Washington, D.C.: July 29, 2002.

             Travel Cards: Control Weakness Leave Army Vulnerable to Potential
             Fraud and Abuse. GAO-02-863T. Washington, D.C.: July 17, 2002.

             Purchase Cards: Control Weakness Leave Army Vulnerable to Fraud,
             Waste, and Abuse. GAO-02-844T. Washington, D.C.: July 17, 2002.

             Purchase Cards: Control Weaknesses Leave Army Vulnerable to Fraud,
             Waste, and Abuse. GAO-02-732. Washington, D.C.: June 27, 2002.

             Purchase Cards: Continued Control Weaknesses Leave Two Navy Units
             Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse. GAO-02-506T. Washington, D.C.: March
             13, 2002.

             Purchase Cards: Control Weaknesses Leave Two Navy Units Vulnerable
             to Fraud and Abuse. GAO-02-32. Washington, D.C.: November 30, 2001.

             Human Capital: Attracting and Retaining a High Quality Information
             Technology Workforce. GAO-02-113T. Washington, D.C.: October 4, 2001.

             Human Capital: A Self-Assessment Checklist For Agency Leaders.
             GAO/OCG-00-14G. Washington, D.C.: September 1, 2000.

             Human Capital: Implementing An Effective Workforce Strategy Would
             Help EPA to Achieve Its Strategic Goals. GAO-01-812. Washington, D.C.:
             July 31, 2000.

             Human Capital: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Training at
             Selected Agencies. GAO/T-00-131. Washington, D.C.: May 18, 2000.

             Federal Acquisition: Trends, Reforms, and Challenges. GAO/T-00-7.
             Washington, D.C.: March 16, 2000.




             Page 34                              GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
           Related GAO Products




           Acquisition Reform: GSA and VA Efforts to Improve Training of Their
           Acquisition Workforces. GAO/GGD-00-66. Washington, D.C.: February 18,
           2000.

           Human Capital: Key Principles From Nine Private Sector
           Organizations. GAO/GGD-00-28. Washington, D.C.: January 31, 2000.

           Best Practices: DOD Training Can Do More To Help Weapon System
           Programs Implement Best Practices. GAO/NSIAD-99-206. Washington,
           D.C.: August 16, 1999.




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           Page 35                             GAO-03-281 Acquisition Workforce Training
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Waste, and Abuse in      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs         Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470


                         Jeff Nelligan, managing director, NelliganJ@gao.gov (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs           U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                         Washington, D.C. 20548