News | March 23, 2021

Courses push for virtual options in career growth

By Elizabeth Szoke DCMA Public Affairs

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present global workplace challenges, professionals have learned to adapt within this unique climate.

Defense Contract Management Agency’s acquisition professionals are among many whose adaptive solutions often center on technology. One agency team has partnered with other organizations to transition as many training courses to a fully, virtual platform.

DCMA Contracts Directorate’s Strategic Engagement and Talent Management Division members have coordinated with their Contract Policy Division teammates to help enhance and strengthen the skills, readiness and effectiveness of the total workforce.

Marty Jakim, the Contracts Directorate’s Strategic Engagement and Talent Management Division director says their team worked with expert guidance from the agency’s Total Force Strategic Learning Division and the Defense Acquisition University’s College of Contract Management for these transitions.

“DAU’s CCM did most of the major lifting in converting our contracting curriculum to virtual delivery,” Jakim said. “With that kind of teamwork, we have been able to ensure DCMA’s 1100-series personnel are able to continue training, despite hurdles the pandemic presents.”

The team has focused on developing and equipping DCMA’s functional and operational contracting workforce with the necessary resources and training to perpetually enhance and further their knowledge, skills and abilities, also known as KSA’s. They have specifically focused on those KSAs that will optimize growth, performance and contributions over agency employees’ contracting careers.

“The courses CCM delivers are in direct relation to the contract administration functions and responsibilities that our DCMA 1100-series contracting workforce perform,” said Erich Wieber, a DCMA contract specialist. “The courses provide training to many disciplines at all levels within DCMA. They are geared at establishing the foundation and providing progression of our contracting workforce’s KSAs that will enhance performance of our contract management mission.”

While virtual learning is not a new concept, the agency’s efforts became a larger focus when more employees began working remotely and travel restrictions expanded to meet coronavirus protocols.

“The ability to reach a broader base of individuals in the virtual environment accelerates an agile work environment,” said Jacqueline Meadows, a DCMA Lockheed Martin Dallas contracts supervisor. “The measure of success in the virtual environment is more easily obtained due to the interactive nature of virtual classrooms.”

Several courses within the CCM’s Contract Management catalog have transitioned to what they refer to as Virtual Instructor-Led Training, or VILT delivery. With this increased amount of courses transitioned to VILT, all CMC courses can be completed from a remote location.

“Saving taxpayer dollars in the form of reduced travel is a major benefit, and our workforce’s quality of life also benefits,” said Wieber. “Virtual training provides greater time-management flexibility to our workforce, reduces their time away from home and provides better work-life balance.”

In addition to those benefits, Wieber said DCMA and DAU subject matter experts directly contribute to course content.

“DCMA field expertise and contracting professionals are involved from the first draft of a course outline all the way through piloting the course,” said Wieber. “As a result, we have the opportunity to ensure the training is accurate and leads to the intended outcomes.”

Agency employees have future opportunities to share their expertise and assist with course development.

“There are often calls to the field asking for volunteers for course maintenance or course development projects,” Wieber said. “Volunteers have the opportunity to shape the course as well as engage with other SME’s from across DCMA. Please stay tuned for opportunities and consider volunteering any time a request comes out.”

With DAU’s transition to a single-level certification for Contracting and the need to develop and deploy functional training for DCMA’s future contract management credentialing program, there will be a lot of opportunities available to support these and similar initiatives.