VA Shows the Way on Acquisition Training - Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)
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Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA)

 

VA Shows the Way on Acquisition Training

April 14, 2009

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The Lectern
By Steve Kelman

I participated in a panel at the recent National Contract Management Association World Congress presenting the Department of Veterans Affairs newly opened Acquisition Academy, which is through most of the first year of its first class of contracting interns.  I had visited, and blogged about, the Acquisition Academy last fall.  After the panel, which featured the class’ two elected leaders — class president Paschal Dawson and class vice-president Selena Robinson — I am even more impressed.

The internship is a three-year program where the first year is heavy on training (while giving interns field experience awarding contracts).  As I noted after my visit in the fall, the class of 30 or so has no brand-new college grads — all the interns have work experience, generally in business-related areas, often in the private sector.  Many are either veterans themselves or have families in the military, so the level of mission commitment is high — a good start for work as a contracting professional.

A key feature of the training is that students are educated in business skills such as negotiation and market research, as well as general management and leadership skills including team-building and public speaking.  They learn the Federal Acquisition Regulation, but this is not the centerpiece of their training, as it traditionally was in entry-level training for contracting officials in the government.  The reason I was on the panel is that they wanted me to give a bit of perspective on the evolution of the role of the contracting official from regulation-weenie to trusted business advisor.

Read more at FCW.com External link to a non-government website


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