When officials launch the Air Force Contracting Learning Center SharePoint site July 12, it will culminate efforts to provide contracting professionals with a single entry point for continuous learning.
Per DOD Instruction 5000.66, contracting professionals must accumulate 80 continuous learning points every two years. The learning center, which is accessible at https://cs.eis.af.mil/airforcecontracting/training_repository/default.aspx, will facilitate meeting that requirement.
Air Force Materiel Command, whose mission includes providing acquisition management services and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems ready for war, is leading this Air Force initiative for an enterprise approach to contracting training. AFMC employs 3,765 contracting professionals, or about 40 percent of the total Air Force contracting workforce.
Creation of the learning center is in support of the Air Force Contracting Strategy Council’s Goal 2, which involves “aggressively recruiting, developing, retaining, and supporting a trained and capable Air Force Contracting corps, ready to meet the Air Force and Joint Contracting mission.” Goal 2 team members included participants from Air Force Contracting, five Air Force Major Commands, and the Air Force Personnel Center.
The learning center also supports AFMC’s “Year of Continuing Education” initiative.
According to Col. Roger Westermeyer, AFMC Contracting deputy director, the learning center provides numerous advantages and opportunities.
“Content will be viewable in three ways: by process, Federal Acquisition Regulation part, or topic,” the colonel said. “Process view aligns with the new Contract Information Management System. This view will provide buyers ready access to learning material at their desktop computer while buyers are in a particular procurement phase. The concept is to instantly connect buyers to knowledge or subject matter experts while buyers are performing their jobs.
“The learning center will allow people at all levels, from unit training monitors to senior contracting officials, to examine existing training materials and extract relevant information instead of developing new content,” Westermeyer said. “This will eliminate the need for local units to expend resources developing training because the learning center will provide it for them.”
Mary Petkoff, a procurement analyst in Headquarters AFMC’s Contracting Processes Management Division, added that consolidation of material onto the learning center will provide more consistent and standardized contracting training across the Air Force.
“More than 70 contracting organizations throughout the Air Force, as well as MAJCOMs and other organizations, are sourcing, developing and maintaining training products,” Petkoff said. “Additionally, people are maintaining more than 20 training repositories and/or portals, many of which reside in Air Force Knowledge Now, which will be eliminated. The learning center will reduce redundancy and enhance standardization and quality of contracting training materials.
“Content owners will be responsible for maintaining and updating material to ensure information is current,” Petkoff continued. “While many content owners for topics appearing on the site will reside in AFMC, the learning center currently has content owners at SAF/AQCP, Air Force Logistics (AF/A4), and Air Force Space Command. Efforts to add knowledgeable content owners from across the Air Force continue.
“Related to this is the concept that the learning center was set up to link to source documents, so that when a source document is updated, that information is updated on the learning center,” Petkoff said.
More content will be migrated to the learning center through incremental phases, which is often referred to as spiral development. For instance, at the initial rollout the contingency contracting section of the learning center will contain material on the mobilization phase of deployment. Additional training material will be added later for the buildup, sustainment, and redeployment phases.
According to Westermeyer, the need for a centralized learning center arose from an increased demand for training while at the same time resources to develop and maintain training material have decreased.
“About 40 percent of the Air Force’s contracting workforce has less than five years of experience,” the colonel said. “Contracting staffs at all levels throughout the Air Force are shrinking and we face the potential of more budget and personnel cuts. By consolidating contracting training content into one location we can be more efficient and effective in providing quality standardized training content to the workforce.”
AFMC’s interest in leading the effort to create the learning center escalated following the command’s reorganization announcement in November 2011. AFMC is consolidating its centers from 12 to five as part of AFMC’s response to a Department of Defense challenge to find efficiencies and save tax dollars. AFMC officials say that by reducing and consolidating overhead, the command will improve the way it accomplishes its diverse mission and will provide better support to the warfighter.
“As we move forward, we must train and develop our people to fully implement the Better Buying Power initiatives,” Westermeyer said. “This requires a firm understanding of contracting processes and principles as well as industry business practices. The Air Force Contracting Learning Center will help us get there.”