During a recent panel discussion at the National Contract Management Association conference in Nashville, Tenn., Michael Hutchison, deputy to the contracting general at Army Contracting Command, stated that officials are increasingly worried about retaining the contracting workforce due to the possibility of more furloughs under sequestration.
Army Contracting Command is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Ala., and has two subordinate commands- the Expeditionary Contracting Command, and Mission and Installation Contracting Command; with five major contracting centers that provide support to Army Materiel Command’s life cycle management commands and Major Subordinate Commands. These centers provide contracting support to several programs executive offices and program managers supporting the U.S. Army major acquisition programs.
“Quite frankly, quite abruptly, we look like we are going to stop that growth and are likely to reverse most of that growth that we had in the past seven or eight years,” Hutchinson said. “The fear is … it’s going to drive out all of our experienced people.”
Hutchison and others have a growing concern that 20 percent of the Army’s contracting workforce could choose to retire due to the recent budget cuts, furloughs, and lost pay increases of the past few years. Additionally, there are fears of being able to retain the newly recruited acquisition workforce that was rebuilt after the downsizing which took place in the 1990s. The acquisition workforce has been under ongoing scrutiny for contracting errors. In a time when every penny is being pinched, the loss of intellectual capital in the acquisition workforce could be significant.
If Army Contracting is to fulfill their mission of providing responsive, innovative and efficient procurement solutions to enable the Army’s global warfighting dominance, the government will have to find ways to keep their workforce engaged, working, and appreciated enough to stay.