The need for additional staff resources is the most frequently cited response to improving government contracting. In recent years, considerable resources have been invested in hiring and educating our biggest asset, human capital. This additional staffing and education has so far met with mixed results. This is because people are only as effective as the experience and education they have received.
Contracting executives frequently mention the need to develop judgment, reasoning, and analytical skills, as well as to obtain real-world experience. These goals can be met through exposure to diverse acquisition and operational scenarios. Three years of varied contracting experience (simplified acquisition, major systems, source selection, and acquisition planning) is better than 10 years of doing the same, simplified, repetitive tasks over and over, yet still moving up the career ladder. When that situation occurs, specialists get up to senior levels but with limited experience and knowledge, inhibiting their ability to assume the leadership responsibilities they were intended to.
This occurs because agencies want to fill their positions, even though most applicants did not have the opportunity to obtain the necessary variety of experience, which may require moving from one position to another.
Many smaller agencies cannot offer internships or rotations to round out their experience because of the limited nature of their acquisition mission. In some cases, the agency or firm has the overall resources, but is not organized to manage professional development.
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