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News | March 17, 2022

Back-to-Basics Streamlines Acquisition Training

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This article is Part 1 in an on-going series about "Back-to-Basics."

Defense Contract Management Agency acquisition employees now have a streamlined and modernized career-field training plan.

The change, known as “Back-to-Basics,” took effect Feb. 1.  The initiative aims to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness of acquisition workforce training and certification.

According to the Defense Acquisition University website, “The Department of Defense is modernizing its implementation of the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act to a 21st Century talent management framework. The initiative significantly streamlines the certification construct and re-focuses training resources for the Defense Acquisition Workforce.”

The new framework organizes 14 legacy career fields into seven functional areas: engineering and technical management; contracting; program management; business financial management/business cost estimating; life cycle logistics; test & evaluation; and auditing.

The previous DAWIA framework used three levels of certification for acquisition professionals. Under Back-to-Basics, most functional areas have adopted a two-tiered approach to certification, while contracting has a single level of certification called the DOD Contracting Professional Certification.

Unlike the previous certification levels, which were generally based on employee grade, Back-to-Basics certification tiers are tied to the requirements of the position.

“For more than thirty years, training was a one-size-fits-all approach and delivered early in an individual’s career. Now, DOD is rethinking training to foster a culture of lifelong learning for current and future acquisition professionals,” DAU stated on its website. “Workforce members are empowered to choose assignment specific, job-relevant training through the Defense Acquisition Credential Program. Credentials increase flexibility to tailor training and develop skills in specialty areas to meet changing needs.”

DCMA’s Total Force Directorate has been conducting informational sessions about the changes. Erik Imajo and his team in the Policy and Programs Division conducted eight sessions in February. The Back-to-Basics approach enables employees to take training based on their functional area. This reduces training hours across all functional areas while increasing timeliness and relevance of course requirements. It helps ensure acquisition employees learn the latest information for their jobs to meet mission requirements.

Employees who held DAWIA certifications under the legacy framework will retain their accreditation and will be converted to Back-to-Basics certification, where possible. Employees who did not complete a legacy certification or their certification does not convert to the tier required by their updated position description will have to complete Back-to-Basics certification.

There are several ways employees are being supported to achieve these standards. In addition to requirement-grace periods for employees, DAU also offers alternate means of gaining course credit. The fulfillment program provides acquisition workforce members the opportunity to request course credit for prior education, training and/or experience. DAU has also identified predecessors, which are previously offered courses that it continues to accept in lieu of current courses. Accepted predecessors are listed in the DAU’s iCatalog on the appropriate course concept card at 

Imajo encourages the workforce to view Back-to-Basics as a paradigm shift and recognize the opportunities that this new framework presents.

“There are many newly developed or redesigned courses offered to increase the relevance and timeliness of the training. Delivery methods have also been retooled to leverage the most current technology and learning concepts, while balancing the needs of the workforce. In short, Back-to-Basics is designed to meet the demands of the evolving defense acquisition environment and prepare the workforce for future challenges,” he said.

Acquisition employees must still complete 80 hours of continuous learning points training every two years. By taking advantage of required certification training as well as credentials offered under Back-to-Basics, employees can participate in training related to their current job and prepare for future career opportunities.

The Defense Acquisition Talent Management System was updated in February to reflect changes to employees’ career briefs. When the position descriptions are updated in the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, the position data will refresh DATMS to accurately reflect individual employees’ complete DAWIA status.

If employees have any questions about Back-to-Basics, they should contact their training coordinator or contact the DCMA DAWIA team at

For additional information, visit the DAU Back-to-Basics website, the Defense Pricing & Contracting Contract policy Workforce Development website and the DCMA 360 Back-To-Basics(BTB) For The Defense Acquisition Workforce webpage (DCMA employees only.)