Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT April-June 2015 Contents has competition at least in all critical
areas or next-generation critical areas?
That’s the kind of thing that we try to
research in our research center here [at
the University of Maryland]. So the sec-
ond question, who do you buy it from, is
[related to], “What do you want for your
And then the third question is, really,
“Who does the buying?” And there’s one
of the biggest problems we have right
now—the experience of the acquisition
workforce. You really want your senior
people, experienced people, knowledge-
able people to be making those decisions.
But unfortunately, we have had an aging
workforce, and they were replaced by
“interns.” In fact, today 55 percent of the
DOD’s acquisition workforce have less
than five years of experience, with few
mentors remaining to help them.
Army AL&T: Do you think that the
Better Buying Power (BBP) initiative of
building the professionalism of the work-
force is really making a difference, or is it
too early to tell?
Gansler: Well, it’s an important initia-
tive—let’s start it that way.
In order to try to address this need, here
in my research center, we’re running a
program on acquisition specialization
for graduate students—case studies and
things like that, which we’re teaching and
getting certified. But even the Defense
Acquisition University is somewhat resis-
tant to the needed change in the sense that
they don’t teach the best practices of the
commercial world, and there are many
areas where commercial best practices
truly are the best. They teach, “Here’s how
we do it,” the 186,000 pages of the Code
of Federal Regulations. And they teach
buying goods and not buying services.
The BBP professionalism initiative is
something we should be doing, because
there aren’t mentors out there nowadays.
One thing we might want to think about
is creating an organization that has some
experienced people who can help as coun-
selors or mentors for the contracting and
acquisition practices. I think that’s a step
we need to take. The world changes. Why
are we teaching the way we used to do it,
instead of recognizing that technology’s
changed, the scenarios have changed, the
threat has changed?
We didn’t have to worry about cybersecu-
rity 15 years ago. And the sort of things
that you could have—automation and
other techniques, robotics, things like
that—we want to make sure we’re taking
full advantage of from the commercial
world or even the global world, and not
just constraining ourselves to the way we
used to do it.
Army AL&T: Who would be the best
entity to take up that responsibility for
providing experienced counsel, then?
Would it be academia?
Gansler: Well, that would be in the right
direction. And you also need to make sure
you’ve got some of the creative and senior
experienced government and industry
people doing it, because the old way isn’t
giving much authority to the program
manager. The contracting people now
tell them what to do, and you’d like to
have the program manager experienced
as well as the contracting people. You’d
like to have the program manager be able
to have some flexibility to make some
choices instead of having the old laws and
rules dictate the way we do it.
Army AL&T: You’ve said, to quote
the Gansler Commission report, that
contracting people are “understaffed,
supported and, I would argue, most
importantly, undervalued.” Given all that
government civilian employees have been
through over the last year with furloughs
and sequestration, why would someone
want a government job?
Gansler: Especially with what it pays,
you mean, besides that.
Army AL&T: Besides that.
Gansler: My son [Douglas F. Gansler]
was attorney general of Maryland [from
2006 to 2014], and he’s just gone to work
for a law firm and his salary has skyrock-
eted. I was impressed with that. It makes
the point you’re making. I think what
you need now is for [Secretary of Defense
Dr.] Ash Carter to sort of take the lead in
emphasizing the importance of an acqui-
sition workforce career path, and they
will be listened to.
Army AL&T: It seems as though govern-
ment employees are often maligned as
There are a significant number of areas where the
Department of Defense is no longer technologically ahead.
The most obvious fix for this is not necessarily changing
the rules, but looking at where the budget’s going.
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