Shrinking budgets remain most important acquisition issue

Monday - 11/14/2011, 9:36am EST

Jan Frye, deputy assistant secretary of VA's Office of Acquisition and Logistics

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

Hundreds of federal employees responsible for making sure government contracts run properly — and their industry counterparts — have convened at the 2011 Government Contract Management Conference today in Bethesda, Md.

Jan Frye, the deputy assistant secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department's Office of Acquisition and Logistics, joined the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris from the conference to discuss the big issues in contract management.

The big issue is the budget, and what cutting it will mean for the federal acquisition workforce, he explained.

Jan Frye, the deputy assistant secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department's Office of Acquisition and Logistics. Frye is also the co-chair of the GCMC.

"As we downsize again, as the budgets get smaller, we all wonder where we're headed with these new professionals we have added to the contracting workforce."

Frye said acquisition professionals are concerned not only about their own jobs, but what the loss of contracting officers will mean for government procurement, he added.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy recently boosted requirements for contracting officers — renaming the position and adding different certification levels. Frye said. The change will echo how the Defense Department labels and certifies its contracting officers.

The process from procurement — the actual purchasing of goods and services — and contract management is part of "a large continuum," Frye said.

There are three essential skills a successful contracting manager needs, Frye said.

  • Technical skills. This conference provides that continuing education to help each of us stay on top of our profession," he explained.

  • Conceptual skills. "Putting the pieces together, seeing the big picture," Frye said.

  • Interpersonal skills. "This may be the most important skill that contracting officer need in performing their duties," he said. "If we can't get along with people, obviously, we're not going to do well with the team."
Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Government Contracts Management Conference.