Commerce Department's acquisition workforce plan lacking, finds IG

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A 5-year plan to bolster the Commerce Department's acquisition workforce, which was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget in March 2010, is short on specifics due to missing and inconsistent data, according to the department's office of inspector general in an audit report published Dec. 21.  

In a memo on the report, Ann Eilers, principal assistant inspector general for audit and evaluation, writes that DoC's Acquisition Human Capital Plan has unreconciled baseline counts for acquisition personnel, incomplete workforce requirement forecasts and is missing time frames and milestones for its 10 program goals.

The vague baselines and goals resulted in poor coordination with budget requests, writes Eilers. The report notes that the AHCP's request for additional full-time equivalent staff identified in the plan didn't align with the individual bureaus' fiscal 2012 budget requests for additional acquisition staff.

The report recommends Director of Acquisition Management Barry Berkowitz address the problems that led to the poorly-formulated AHCP.

OIG says he should establish protocols determining baseline staffing levels and prescribe minimum documentation standards for bureau-level procurement offices and the office of acquisition management for determining the figures included in the AHCP. Auditors recommend Berkowitz help bureaus establish acquisition staffing goals and measure progress, and work with DoC's budget office to access departmental acquisition workforce budget data during the budget formulation process.

Although the shortfalls and recommendations appear fairly straightforward, OAM issued a four-page response finding fault with each of the audit's recommendations. OAM staff wrote that baseline staffing figures were in fact accurate, even though OIG had found AHCP numbers did not match the sum of bureau figures. Berkowitz's staff wrote that all staffing data came from the department's Office of Human Resource Management personnel records, the department's annual warrant report, and the department's Acquisition Workforce Certification database, "all of which are reliable and verifiable sources."

The response also argues that workforce requirement forecasts are not "insufficient" as the auditors claim. Rather, the department chose not to be overly prescriptive. DoC recognizes its acquisition portfolio consists of diverse requirements and "mandating a single method for projecting an optimal workforce to apply across the entire Department will more likely result in inadequate target levels," say OAM staff.

The response report also found fault with auditors' claim that milestones and timelines were missing from the ACHP.

"OAM considered the use of milestones, however, it posed great challenges, given that the action strategies are ongoing activities and many of the strategies were contingent upon additional funding," explains OAM staff.  

For more:
- see the DOC IG report

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