News | Jan. 10, 2018

DoD recognizes DCMA for workforce innovation

By DCMA Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va., Jan. 10, 2018 — One of the Defense Contract Management Agency’s longest-running workforce development programs was recently recognized by the Department of Defense. It wasn’t the past success of the Keystone program that brought it to the department’s attention, however, it was the agency’s focus on the program’s future.

A comprehensive redevelopment of the program over the past two years led to significant changes, and in December, to the agency receiving the DoD’s 2017 Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Innovation Award.

Kathy Butera, executive director of DCMA Human Capital, said that for the past 20 years, the Keystone program has recruited, developed and managed entry-level acquisition workforce employees, typically recent college graduates or individuals with work experience in non-acquisition roles.

“The program brings in about 150 employees annually, who spend three years developing technical skills through formal training and developmental assignments, leading to Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level II certification,” said Butera. “Once an individual completes the program, they are typically considered an outstanding candidate and placed in a journeyman position with DCMA.”

In late 2015, an agency team began looking at all aspects of the Keystone program to ensure it would continue to support future mission requirements. Led by Human Capital’s Strategic Learning Division and including a cross-section of agency leaders — from the director to former Keystones — the team’s goals were to increase the attractiveness of the program to potential new employees; strengthen current Keystones’ abilities to reach high levels of professional skills and proficiencies; ensure uniformity of training across the agency; and build comradery among those in the program.

Among the results of the study were changes to how Keystones manning requirements are identified, and how individuals are recruited. The new system looks closer at anticipated needs in three years, when Keystones graduate from the program, and takes into consideration job series needs common to DCMA, such as contract administration, quality assurance and engineering.

Once Keystones are in the program, they’ll initially be treated as a cohort, with a headquarters-based orientation and training program called the Keystone Boot Camp designed to provide an introduction to DCMA’s mission and worldwide operations, as well as opportunities to meet senior-level agency management. This gives new participants a chance to network with each other, and set career development goals.

To improve and assure consistent on-boarding, mentoring and ongoing training after the Boot Camp, DCMA is establishing regional training hubs designed to improve Keystone coordination across the agency by providing support to each Keystone’s professional and career development.

Butera said the investment in the total Keystone program has been calculated to provide DCMA with a strengthened process that gives individuals a well-crafted and well-supervised developmental experience. “Keystones are viewed by the agency as the next generation of journeyman employees, with high potential for continued service as DCMA senior leaders,” she concluded. “Agency leaders expect the revamped program will well-position us for future success.”

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