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Accelerated Learning: Recapitalizing the Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Workforce

Accelerated Learning: Recapitalizing the Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Workforce

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Accelerated Learning: Recapitalizing the Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Workforce

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  1. Accelerated Learning: Recapitalizing the Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Workforce November 2009

  2. 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 Services 70 million eligible veterans and their families More than $15B worth of services and/or products were bought under contract last year 2

  3. A Department of Veterans Affairs Crisis Looming retirements of baby boomers Grade creep “Doing more with less” Supervisory Contracting Officers carry full-time workload out of necessity Many have gone years with little to no training or training has been “check-the-box” and it’s NOT WORKING! Significant number of veterans returning from war in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters will require a more competent, innovative, and “solutions-oriented” acquisition workforce 3

  4. We are Not Alone! The acquisition function is in a state of crisis in all Federal agencies: 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 Unintended effects of acquisition reform American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Acquisition training demands exceed supply 4

  5. More 1102’s Required

  6. VA Plowing 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 Opened brick and mortar facility in November 2008 Created to train and certify the entire VA Acquisition Team – a multi-pronged approach Contracting Professionals including entry-level interns Program/Program Managers Contracting Officer Technical Representatives Acquisition Leaders Competency-Based Program 6

  7. Making A Meaningful Difference To develop new and existing/seasoned personnel into trusted business advisors who are capable of executing the FAR’s emphasis on using sound business judgment to deliver best value solutions To become catalysts for change, transforming the VA acquisition process from “tactical and reactive” to “strategically-driven and focused on results” Program includes stakeholder engagement and value measurement methodologies to ensure alignment with business needs to satisfy VA mission 7

  8. Raising the Bar Academy curricula will: Respond to the developmental needs of the entire acquisition workforce (with consideration of competency assessment data to close gaps) Satisfy government-wide professional certification requirements mandated by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Offer specialized acquisition tracks Include electives such as leadership, communication, writing, and other training offerings to allow VA employees to maintain required professional certifications and currency The Academy’s holistic, integrated, and synergistic approach will lead to a world class VA acquisition capability 8

  9. Four Schools Acquisition Internship School FAC-C Certification/Levels 1-2 Contracting Professionals School FAC-C Certification/Levels 1-3 Program Management School FAC-P/PM Certifications Program Management Specialty Fields Acquisition Corps Development School 9

  10. The VA Acquisition AcademyAcquisition Internship School 10

  11. Internship School Facts Currently56 interns Two cohorts move through program together At full capacity, 100 interns in program at various stages A 3-year program Excepted service appointments Career ladder to GS-12 Intern demographics Representation from over 15 states across US More than 53% are veterans Many with MBAs or Juris Doctorates All have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree or 24-semester hours of business credit 2009 Chief Acquisition Officer Council Acquisition Excellence Award 11

  12. Taking a Holistic Approach The intern curriculum consists of a holistic approach to developing technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills through courses in: Technical Contracting VA Transformation Efforts Current News Discussion Forums Leadership Communication Customer Service Team Building Project Management Includes formal technical classroom training complimented by SkillBuilding and Non-Classroom activities, Mission Service Work, and Job Rotations 12

  13. Program Snapshot

  14. Leadership Training • Formal leadership courses at all three FAC-C levels • Critical to VA’s succession planning efforts • Guest leader series • Visiting senior leaders/speakers from acquisition, programmatic, finance, policy, private, and public sectors share perspectives about their leadership journey • Hosted several dozen guest leaders in 2009 • Situational leadership opportunities • Leadership skills are applied, and assessed while on job rotations

  15. What SBLDs Look Like • 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 • These practical activities further prepare and equip interns to perform successfully in their job rotations and after program graduation

  16. Job Rotation Component • “Learning by doing” - critical for intern learning at all levels • Represents a significant investment today from operational/hosting job rotation organizations for enhancing our acquisition capability/capacity in the future • Offers some added bench strength to help VA process real requirements • Dedicated reach-back support to the interns during job rotations

  17. Mission Service Projects Interns plan and participate in Mission Service activities in order to gain a better understanding of VA’s mission, vision and core values. Projects include: Veterans Career Boost Medical Center Visits Homeless Veterans Welcome Home Program Veterans Elementary School Letter Writing Campaign Many Others “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” ~Abraham Lincoln~ 17

  18. Program “Secret Sauce”– Our Experiential Learning Model “Secret Sauce” Non-Classroom Activities and Skill-building Workshops reduce interns’ time to competency Non-Classroom Activities Let Me Try Job Rotations Show Me & Let Me Try Skill-Building Workshops Formal Contracting Courses Formal Leadership Courses Tell Me & Show Me Adult Learning Model = Tell Me  Show Me  Let Me Try 18

  19. Reduced Time to Competency Accelerated Learning Why it Works… Designed to accelerate learning curve to be more productive more quickly Emphasis on translating theory, fundamentals, and concepts to practical application Program evolves from basic to more complex acquisition strategies Trusted Business Advisor FAC-C Level III Certified Contracting Professional Competency Proficiency Time VA Acquisition Intern Program Traditional Intern Program 19

  20. Representative Kudos from the Field “I have been impressed with his work ethic and the quality of his work.  You have really done an excellent job selecting interns if this is representative of group.” “All 3 of your interns are doing a fantastic job. We would take all 3 back at any time during their internship (unless we can figure out how to steal them from you earlier!). You are doing a great job at the Academy based on their performance to date. All three are really top notch.” “She has the attitude, the eagerness, the skills and potential to be one of the top 1102 model employees that any acquisition office would like to have, based on my experience these past months.” “She exhibits an immense understanding of the acquisition process and looks at every opportunity to address different aspects of the process. She rapidly grasps concepts, policies and procedures required for the development, solicitation and award of construction contracts.” 20

  21. On the Horizon Will recruit another intern cohort for June 2010 start Launching a non-resident program using blended learning approaches to reduce travel expenses Considering reducing length of program Development of “feeder” program for severely wounded veterans Open program up to other civilian agencies 21

  22. Contact Information • Lisa Doyle, Chancellor, VA Acquisition Academy • • (202) 461-0646 • Melissa Starinsky, Vice-Chancellor Internship School • • (202) 461-0725 • Joanne Choy, Senior Training Specialist • • (202) 461-0696 Visit us at: 22

  23. QUESTIONS?? 23