Pentagon To Expand Its Acquisition Force
By Dana Hedgpeth
That's right. In an amazing turnabout, the Pentagon said it would hire 16 percent more acquisition workers to manage and oversee buying over the next five years. That's the largest increase in many years.
The problem has been that the procurement workforce has been stretched thin as projects have grown more sophisticated.
Shay Assad, the Pentagon's director of defense procurement and acquisition policy, announced new details about the changes one day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was going to reorder the military's weapon priorities.
"We've had the same size workforce, but the workload has gone up three times," Assad said.
In the next five years, Assad said he plans to grow the acquisition workforce from 127,000 to about 147,000. That would bring the Pentagon's acquisition workforce to 1998 levels.
The roughly 20,000 new hires will include 2,500 workers at the Defense Contract Management Agency, which helps oversee contracts; 800 pricing specialists; 600 auditors; 5,500 contracting officers and procurement specialists; 250 acquisition lawyers; and another 11,000 workers who specialize in systems engineering, program management, and logistics. He's also going to convert 2,500 positions now done by contractors to being jobs done by federal government workers.
Assad calls it a "bold step" to addressing the chronic problems of buying expensive weapons systems that too often end up being over budget, late and fail to perform as expected.
Analysts and acquisition specialists say he's going to have a hard time finding such skilled workers, even in a bad economy.
But he's certainly going to give it a try as he sets out to reform a very broken system and as he says, "get the best deal for the taxpayers."
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