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News   Reform

Strengthening, Empowering the Acquisition Workforce Through Modernization

Feb. 8, 2022 | BY Devon Bistarkey and Matt Howard, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment

As the Defense Department embraces a paradigm shift in current and future work environments, Pentagon leaders remain focused on cultivating human capital through new approaches to training, talent development and recruitment.


Recognizing people as DOD's most critical asset and the key to driving competitive advantage, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment is strengthening the Defense Acquisition Workforce by building modern learning resources and ensuring requirement and retention strategies fully provide for diversity and inclusion of talents.  

An airman inspects the inside of a jet engine with a flashlight.
Internal Inspection
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Justin St Thomas inspects the liner of an F-16 jet engine at Morris Air National Guard Base, Ariz., Jan. 9, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles Givens
VIRIN: 220109-Z-DK606-001C

"Today, our workforce faces challenges unknown to our predecessors — and we need a new approach to training and development in order to meet those challenges," Gregory M. Kausner, an official with the office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said. 

Leading department wide efforts to implement a 21st century talent management framework, acquisition and sustainment — through Defense Acquisition University — is implementing the most significant update to acquisition certification since the 1990 Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act. 

The initiative to update implementation of DAWIA is often referred to as "Back-to-Basics" and the new certification framework took effect Feb. 1. It streamlines the acquisition career fields into core functional areas and helps DOD refocus resources for the 185,000 members of the Defense Acquisition Workforce who develop, acquire and sustain operational capability. 

For more than 30 years, training requirements reflected a one-size-fits-all approach and were met early in an individual’s career. The new framework encourages lifelong learning by reducing required training hours up front so acquisition professionals can spend more time gaining experience on the job and then choosing the additional training they need when they need it.  

Elective learning is key to this transformation — empowering workforce members to choose assignment-specific, job-relevant training for professional growth. Through the Defense Acquisition Credential Program, DOD has introduced additional opportunities to develop skills in specialty or emerging areas to meet evolving needs. 

"We are engaging with every major DOD acquisition organization to build a department wide understanding of how to make lifelong learning work effectively," DAU President Jim Woolsey said. "By transforming from a traditional schoolhouse focused on classroom training to a modern learning platform, we are connecting the acquisition workforce to the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to succeed in the moment." 

Sailors and civilians work around an unmanned aircraft on a ship's flight deck.
Stingray Scene
Sailors and Boeing team members prepare to move an unmanned MQ-25 Stingray aircraft into the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in Norfolk, Va., Nov. 30, 2021. The MQ-25 will be the world’s first operational, carrier-based unmanned aircraft.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Noah J. Eidson
VIRIN: 211130-N-AV609-1257Y

Together, A&S and DAU also continue building a diverse workforce by scaling the Department’s Public-Private Talent Exchange and other existing efforts, while exploring new ventures such as the creation of a Defense Civilian Training Corps. By establishing an ROTC-like program for civilians at universities across the country, the program aims to strengthen the pipeline of acquisition professionals, particularly in STEM curricula, and incentivize DOD service after graduation. 

"This new approach will make our workforce more successful in delivering preeminent capabilities to our warfighters now and into the future," Kausner said. "Now, we are counting on our acquisition professionals to make the most of these opportunities." 

To learn more about the new DAWIA certification framework, visit https://www.dau.edu/back-to-basics/ or contact DAU Public Affairs at communications@dau.edu.