Number of contracting professionals on the rise
The analysis, “Annual Report on the Federal Acquisition Workforce, FY 2007,” indicates that the number of contracting officers in the government increased to 28,434 in 2007, up 6.8 percent since the Bush administration began. More precisely, since 2001, there has been a net increase in the acquisition work force of 1,826 employees, from 26,608 in 2001 to 28,434 in 2007.
The federal government now has about 19,000 contracting professionals in the Department of Defense and 9,300 in civilian agencies.
Among the other highlights, the report shows that the average retirement eligibility for contracting professionals increased from 12 percent in fiscal year 2006 to 14 percent in fiscal year 2007, though these figures are higher in certain agencies. Eligibility for full retirement climbs to 34 percent in fiscal year 2012 and 55 percent in fiscal year 2017. The Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) has prepared the report annually since 1977.
“The information from this report and access to new Office of Federal Procurement Policy and Federal Acquisition Institute workforce initiatives, such as the Federal Acquisition Intern Coalition, allow federal managers to anticipate work force issues, make future projections and prepare human capital plans that meet the demands of the agency,” said Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Paul Denett when this latest analysis was issued.
People who track the federal contracting work force need to look beyond the numbers, said David Drabkin in a recent commentary for FederalTimes.com. Drabkin is deputy chief acquisition officer and senior procurement executive at the U.S. General Services Administration.
“In 1991, about 33,000 contract specialists governmentwide were responsible for about $150 billion in federal contracts. Most of the contracts they awarded were based on sealed bidding and the lowest price,” Drabkin explained on FederalTimes.com. “Today, there are approximately 28,000 contract specialists across the government responsible for more than $450 billion in government contracts. The contracting clerks who supported them in the early ‘90s are virtually nonexistent by comparison.
“These numbers tell their own story: Fewer people are doing almost 300 percent more work.”
Drabkin added that contract specialists today are doing more complex work: “In 1995, the government changed its focus from getting the ‘lowest price’ to getting the ‘best value.’ Determining the best value requires a great deal more sophistication than picking the lowest price.”
For the “Annual Report on the Federal Acquisition Workforce, FY 2007,” click here.
Additional work force information and data can be found on the Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope Web site.