A highly skilled, trained, and experienced workforce is critical for the Department of Defense (DoD) to realize its acquisition reform goals. Accordingly, industry, Congress, and DoD have supported efforts to improve the acquisition workforce. In Pathways to Transformation, NDIA advocated for improved workforce planning, making the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund (DAWDF) permanent, and authorities to retain retirement-eligible, critical acquisition civil service employees. Each iteration of the Better Buying Power series also places a major focus on the acquisition workforce.
Moving forward, there are significant challenges pertaining to the acquisition workforce. According to USD (AT&L) Human Capital Initiatives data, 51.5% of the acquisition workforce is retirement eligible or within 10 years of retirement eligibility. As these experienced personnel retire, younger personnel will replace them, who have entered the workforce at a time when the Department has been focused on compliance and cost cutting, rather than innovation. Unfortuanately, too often there is a “check the box” mentality within the acquisition workforce, driving behavior that deviates from top-level policy goals. Thus, it is critical for the Department to pursue policies and remove barriers to incentivize and enable the acquisition workforce to leverage its knowledge, skills, and experience in making decisions. Congress should also provide the Department with the resources necessary to train and educate its workforce.