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Defense Acquisition University
Acquisition is a Team Sport
Written by: Elizabeth Bryant, Professor of Contract Management
February 08, 2019
Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition professionals share many hurdles along the path to mission success – complex processes, manpower shortages, multiple approval layers, tight timelines, and conflicting direction. Simultaneously, there is the challenge that has always existed but rings more loudly than ever before – to move more quickly, to be more agile, to think outside the box: Middle Tier of Acquisition vs DOD 5000 series, traditional FAR-based contracting vs Other Transaction Authority, etc. They also face the day-to-day tension of balancing project planning & execution workload with a concurrent goal of continuous learning about acquisition and leadership.
How can any individual program manager or contracting officer find their way successfully and swiftly from requirements definition to contract award through execution? All too often, the schedule elongates as acquisition professionals try to single-handedly, yet heroically, roll that rock up the hill.
Let’s consider a solitary program manager trying to determine the best path of Middle Tier of Acquisition versus DoDI 5000.02. That’s quite the challenge for one person to tackle – new concepts, lots of research, comparing one path to the other. Would that program manager or contracting officer make those decisions in a vacuum?
Obviously, the answer is no. So what other voices would they have in the room? Would they be the right voices or the same voices that they always hear? Well, the traditional acquisition answer is, “It depends,” but what if they purposefully targeted different voices? What if they assembled their team from the beginning with broad functional representation, would synergy emerge in the form of better options, decisions, and execution?
Imagine such a synergistic approach – the Multi-Functional Team (MFT)! This means bringing in subject matter experts from multiple acquisition career fields at the inception of Requirements Definition, not late in the process. Their team would consist of representatives from Program Management, Contracting, Engineering, Systems Engineering, Test & Evaluation, Financial Management, Logistics, Requirements Management, Configuration Management, and every possible stakeholder to include senior leadership. In this scenario, every functional area would provide feedback and input as part of the requirements development and definition and every idea would be openly considered and debated. As synergy builds, acquisition strategies become more innovative and schedules accelerate. By enlisting multi-functional teams to innovate and break new acquisition ground, DOD programs could leverage novel strategies and execute leaner schedules.
Acquisition is indeed a team sport and to be innovative, we need to gather a well-rounded team that helps all of us meet DOD’s ultimate goal – mission success today, not tomorrow.
If you are interested in multi-functionalism learning opportunities, think a refresher in key acquisition skill areas could boost your performance or just want to learn more about innovative acquisition methodologies and outside-the-box thinking, our ACQ 405 - Executive Refresher Course - can help you in a peer-to-peer learning environment with a broad team of functional counterparts. The course is also a concise problem-solving skills tune-up for GS-14/15 (or equivalent) civilians and military O-5s/O-6s who are Level III certified in any acquisition field and have not recently attended acquisition training. This course provides senior acquisition professionals with DOD best practices and lessons learned, current policy, new trends and opportunities to talk with peers across the Services and DOD Agencies about their acquisition challenges.
During the 8.5-day course, participants will not only receive functional updates from DAU instructors, but they will also engage in discussions with guests from DOD, Congress, GAO, and industry. These facilitated discussions include contemporary management and leadership topics such as Partnering with Industry, Risk and Opportunity Management, Human Capital Management, Governance, Time Management and Leading Change. By the end of the course, students should be able to integrate the classroom content they learn with additional strategies their peers have shared, enabling them to perform better in their roles as acquisition leaders.
For more information, go to
, select "Training Courses" and then "ACQ 405.” In addition, you may contact Roberta Tomasini, the ACQ 405 Course Manager, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 703-805-3764.