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News | May 19, 2021

Contracts directorate provides virtual training to acquisition personnel

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

The Defense Contract Management Agency workforce has adjusted to change over the last year, which includes employees working remotely and taking more of their training virtually.

The Contracts Directorate’s Strategic Engagement and Talent Management Division, also known as AQA, staff has been busy providing virtual training to procurement technicians and contract administrators from across the agency. With more than 260 procurement technicians and 1,600 contract administrators agency-wide, these training sessions have provided valuable information to make sure employees are equipped with the latest information to do their jobs.

From September 2020 to January 2021, five virtual PT training sessions were conducted with more than 200 attendees at each session. The training was conducted via the Defense Collaboration Services, known as DCS, the Department of Defense’s current web conferencing platform.

“This was the first DCMA training forum created specifically for our procurement technicians,” said Maxine Batina, a contract specialist in AQA.

During the PT training sessions, the employees learned about the Functional Information Resource Management, also known as the FIRM. The employees learned updates related to the Mechanization of Contract Administration Services site, known as MOCAS. The presenters also gave the group an update on contract closeout and career learning maps and guides. Other presentations included employees describing a day in the life of a PT, and there was a discussion on how a PT can become a contract administrator or an administrative contracting officer.

On April 15, the directorate kicked off the start of the inaugural contract administrators’ training forum covering a variety of topics. More than 1,200 participants joined the event. Follow-on virtual training sessions were held May 5, 6, and 13, for contract administrators. Some of the topics included contract receipt and review, ensuring data integrity, and funds lifecycle. In addition, employees heard presentations about the Defense Finance Accounting Service, contractor business system reviews, and the contractor officer review board process.

These virtual training forums are one aspect of the Contracts Directorate’s evolution to a united “functional-competency” approach at developing the contracting community, said Marty Jakim, AQA’s director.

“In the spirit of pursing a competency-focused career development approach for our contracting professionals, we are starting with the stand-up of functional working groups that will be responsible for all things associated with that particular competency,” said Jakim.

“This is just one piece of our larger competency and career development puzzle that we are putting together for our entire operational contracting community, or whom Ms. Sonya Ebright (Contracts Directorate executive director) refers to as our AQ 3000+.”

The Contracts Directorate is seeking representation from all levels of DCMA for the functional working groups. They will be charged with the continual reassessment and recalibration of that functional competency’s position descriptions, learning maps and career guides.

“A champion will also be designated for each of these working groups, who will lead the charge on future training forums and those reassessment and recalibration efforts,” said Jakim. “Initially AQA will be seeking senior management and leadership-level individuals to fill these champion roles under a one, but preferably a two-year term. These champions will be expected to set the course for that functional competency projecting three, five, and 10 years into the future and, hopefully, handing over the wheel to a seasoned PT who will take charge for the follow-on two-year term.”

With DoD’s pending conversion to a single-level certification for contracting and the Contract Directorate’s yet to be defined or deployed contract administration-focused credentialing program, Jakim said there is a lot of work to be done over a 12 to 18-month period once the DoD certification program is confirmed.

“Our current DCMA warrant program, which AQA also manages, is based on the current DAWIA (Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act) Level I, II, and III structure for warranting our administrative contracting officers, corporate administrate contracting officers, and divisional administrative contracts officers,” Jakim added. “Unfortunately, we know that we have no under-employed contracting professionals, so the challenge will be getting these working groups up, running and sustainable. Fortunately, we know there is no challenge our contracting community cannot overcome.”

Employees are encouraged to volunteer for one of the working groups with their supervisor’s approval and can learn more about the groups and AQA’s products and services at: (login required).