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VA’s Approach to Recapitalizing
the Acquisition Workforce
Breakout Session #414
Lisa Doyle
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
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1
About the Department of
Veterans Affairs
• Second-largest of the 15 Cabinet Departments
• Operates nationwide programs for health care,
financial assistance and burial benefits
• Consists of three major Administrations:
– Veterans Health Administration (80% of budget)
– Veterans Benefits Administration
– National Cemetery Administration
• Serves 70 million eligible veterans and their families
• More than $15B worth of products or services were
bought under contract last year
2
Government-wide Challenge
• The acquisition function is in a state of crisis in all
Federal agencies:
– Reductions in 1980s and hiring freezes in 1990s
– Estimated government-wide retirement eligibility is 29% in
FY2011 and 50% in FY2016
• Acquisition is a mission critical function; contracting is
a single but significant piece
• Two decades of “downsizing”, increased outsourcing
and congressional scrutiny and oversight has strained
an over tasked acquisition workforce
• Workforce has become risk adverse
• Acquisition training demands exceed supply
3
VA Breaking New Ground
• First acquisition academy in a civilian agency to
respond to growing acquisition workforce crisis
– Acquisition has become more complex with greater oversight
– Quality of acquisition function has deteriorated
– Acquisition workforce reduced in size
• Created to train and certify the entire VA Acquisition
Team
–
–
–
–
Contracting Professionals including entry-level interns
Program/Program Managers
Contracting Officer Technical Representatives
Acquisition Leaders
• Competency-Based Program
• Experiential Learning Model
4
Open for Business
• Opened in September 2008, occupying the
first floor of the VAAA building in Frederick,
Maryland
• When fully built out, will occupy 80,000
square feet, 18 classrooms, and work
space for more than 150 employees
5
Making A Meaningful
Difference
• Program includes stakeholder engagement and
value measurement methodologies to ensure
alignment with business needs to satisfy VA mission
• Develop new and existing personnel into trusted
business advisors capable of executing the FAR’s
emphasis on using sound business judgment to
deliver best value solutions
• To empower catalysts for change, transforming the
VA acquisition process from “tactical and reactive”
to “strategically-driven and focused on results”
6
Raising the Bar
• Academy curricula will:
– Satisfy Government-wide professional certification requirements
mandated by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy
• Federal Acquisition Certifications in:
Contracting (FAC-C)
Program/Project Management (FAC-P/PM)
Contracting Officer Technical Representative (FAC-COTR)
– Specialized acquisition tracks in:
• Information Technology
• Construction
• Leasing
• Health Care Supplies/Services
– Include electives such as leadership, communication, writing, to
maintain required professional certifications and currency
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Four Schools
•
Acquisition Internship School
•
•
Contracting Professional School
•
•
FAC-C Certification/Levels 1-3
Program Management School
•
•
•
FAC-C Certification/Levels 1-2
FAC-P/PM Certifications
Contracting Officer Technical
Representative (COTR)
Acquisition Corps Development School
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Acquisition Internship School
9
Internship School Facts
• Currently 56 interns
– Two cohorts simultaneously move through program
– At full capacity, 90 interns in program at various stages
• 3-year program
– Hired under the Federal Career Intern Program
– Excepted service appointments
– Career ladder to GS-12
• Intern demographics
– From over 15 states across US
– More than 53% are veterans
– Many with MBAs or JDs
10
Taking a Holistic Approach
• The intern curriculum consists of a holistic
approach to developing technical, interpersonal,
and leadership skills.
• Includes formal technical classroom training
complemented by Leadership, Skill Building, and
non-classroom activities such as Job Rotations
and Mission Service Work
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Leadership Training
• Formal leadership courses at all three FAC-C levels
• Critical to VA’s succession planning efforts
• Guest leader series
Visiting senior leaders from acquisition,
programmatic, finance, policy, private, and public
sectors share perspectives about their
leadership journey
• Situational leadership opportunities
• Leadership skills are applied and assessed while on
job rotations
12
Skill Building
• Allows interns to apply theoretical concepts in a
realistic and ‘safe’ simulated environment – our
Learning Laboratory
–
–
–
–
–
–
Structured business cases
Hands on real-life scenario-based exercises
Detailed research-based projects
Simulations
Role-play
Learning laboratory where it’s okay to fail in order to learn
and improve skills
• Practical activities prepare and equip interns to
perform successfully in their job rotations and after
program graduation
13
Job Rotation Component
• “Learning by doing” - critical for intern learning at
all levels
• Represents a significant investment from
operational/hosting job rotation organizations for
enhancing our future acquisition
capability/capacity
• Added bench strength to help VA process real
requirements
• Dedicated reach-back support to the interns
during job rotations
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Mission Service Projects
Interns plan and participate in Mission Service
activities to gain a better understanding of VA’s
mission, vision, and core values.
– Veterans Career Boost
– Medical Center Visits
– Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Program
– Veterans History Project with Library of Congress
– Many Others
“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his
widow, and his orphan”
~Abraham Lincoln~
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Reduced Time to Performance
• Accelerated Learning
• Why it Works…
•
Trusted Business Advisor
Competency Proficiency
•
FAC-C Level III Certified
Contracting Professional
•
•
Time
VA Acquisition Intern Program
Traditional Intern Program
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Designed to accelerate
learning curve to be more
productive more quickly
Builds competence and
confidence
Emphasize translating
theory, fundamentals,
and concepts to practical
application
Program evolves from
basic to more complex
acquisition strategies
Inaugural Intern Team Stand
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On the Horizon
• Next intern cohort to starts in August 2010
• Launching a non-resident program using blended
learning approaches to reduce travel expenses
• Develop “feeder” program for severely wounded
veterans
• Open program up to other civilian agencies
In learning you will teach…
and in teaching, you will learn!
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Contracting Professional School
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Contracting Professional School
• Addresses all FAI mandated courses in the FAC-C
curriculum
• Reduced costs
•
Centralized contracts yields quantity discounts and
facility overhead less than individual location rentals
• Implementing elective tracks to meet VA specific
contracting needs
•
Health Care Supplies/Services,
•
IT
•
Construction
•
Leasing
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Contracting Professional School
• Number of Courses Conducted: 193
• Number of Students Trained: 3,316
• Number of Courses Planned FY10: 137
Positive Feedback from Satisfied Customers:
• Average Instructor Rating: 4.6 (out of 5)
• Average Course Rating: 4.2 (out of 5)
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FAC-C Required Courses
FAC-C
Level
FAC-C
Level I
Education/Experience
Requirements
 Bachelors Degree OR 24 semester
hours of college accredited business
related courses
FAC-C
Level II


FAC-C
Level III


OFPP Mandated Curriculum














CON 100 Shaping Smart Business Arrangements
CON 110 Mission Support Planning
CON 111 Mission Strategy Execution
CON 112 Mission Performance Assessment
CON 120 Mission Focused Contracting
1 Elective
Bachelors Degree OR 24 semester
CON 214 Business Decisions for Contracting
hours of college accredited
CON 215 Intermediate Contracting for Mission Support
business related courses
CON 216 Legal Considerations in Contracting
2 years of contracting work
CON 217 Cost Analysis and Negotiation Techniques
experience
CON 218 Advanced Contracting for Mission Support
2 electives
Plus all Level I training
Bachelors Degree AND 24
CON 353 Advanced Business Solutions for Mission Support
semester hours of college accredited
(classroom)
business related courses
 2 electives
4 years of contracting work
 Plus all Level I and Level II training
experience
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Program Management School
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Why is it important?
• Mandated by OMB
• Deputy Secretary priority
– Primary objective to improve the quality of service we
deliver to our veterans.
– Key to this initiative is innovative and improved Program
and Project Management (P/PM).
– Create a consistent P/PM knowledge base across VA.
– Funding committed for all the required P/PM training in
2010 to cover tuition and travel.
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The Plan for Change
• Change will require a three cornered
approach to Acquisition
• The Process defines how we oversee
and align accountabilities and
authorities of Acquisition
Process
• The Structure defines the
reporting matrix we use to
manage the Process
• Competency Development
Structure
defines the tools and
guidelines we provide
and enrich in each individual in the
Acquisition Structure
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Competency
Development
The Plan for Change
Enterprise
PMAS
Acquisition
Governance
Board/
Staffing
Plans
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Acquisition
Academy
Who Needs to be
Trained/Certified?
Role
Program Manager
Integrates multiple projects and
defines required projects to
deliver a business objective
Project Manager
–Deals with defined scope and
begin/end date
–Determines and plans for:
• Cost- Budget for their
project
• Determines requirements for
specific scope
• Schedule- establish, track
and adjust as project
progresses
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Responsibility Level
Certification
Level
Programs
> $10M
SENIOR
[4+ years of
experience]
Large, complex
projects and small
programs
MID
[2 years of
experience]
$1M - $10M
Small, non-complex
projects
<$1M
ENTRY
[1 year of
experience]
Program Management
Curriculum
• FAC-P/PM Boot Camps (Entry, Mid, or Senior
P/PM level) for entire inventory
• Training is application-based COTS training –
• Courses include:
• Program/Project Management – 4 days
• EVM and Cost Estimating – 4 days
• Leadership – 3 days
• Acquisition – 4 days
• Each participant will create an action plan to implement
back on the job
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Program Management
Curriculum
• Capstone (5 days at level that corresponds to level
of Boot Camp training, 3 to 4 months post training)
• Simulates VA and commercial/Government best and worst
practice scenarios presented for individual and group work
• Provides practical application of learning and
competencies in lower risk setting
• Impact Monitoring
• Track implementation of action plans generated in Boot
Camp
• Track specific program improvement plan implementations
• Stakeholder engagement to obtain feedback on program
impacts
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Acquisition Corps
Development School
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Purpose of Acquisition Corps
• Develop and implement a professional development
program for VA acquisition executives
• Ensure a holistic and integrate approach to developing
leadership competencies
• To increase bench strength to support succession
planning for critical and senior level positions
• To reinforce a learning environment across the
enterprise
• To enhance retention of high performers by feeding
their desire to excel
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Contact Information
Lisa Doyle, Chancellor, VA Acquisition Academy
– [email protected]
– (202) 461-0646
Visit us at:
http://www.acquisitionacademy.va.gov/index.asp
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QUESTIONS??
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