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Katharina McFarland, director at SAIC, discusses how to build a better acquisition workforce, and how to get out of the ‘checklist mentality.’

While there’s been a major emphasis on modernizing the government’s procurement methods, the human element shouldn’t be ignored. Katharina McFarland, director at SAIC, says that training the next generation of acquisition professionals is incredibly important. She told Government Matters at the NCMA World Congress in Boston that a “checklist mentality” won’t cut it for future acquisitions.

 

“I’m an engineer, so a lot of the things that we do are sort of trying to help people find how to determine where compliance or risk has been mitigated or found or understood, and a checklist mentality just doesn’t cut it. You really have to understand what your products are,” McFarland said. “One of the tools we talked about this morning was the ‘Acquisition of the Future’ tool. The idea of that is that it’s a framework for you to ask the right questions to understand what your workforce needs to know. Everybody agrees these are the things to know as a contracting person, but it applies to engineers, logisticians, everything. Now that you have a sense of what your workforce does or doesn’t have experience or knowledge in, you can send them off to get the right type of training, work with the right type of project so they can bring to themselves confidence but also to you as the senior leader what the skills are they need to do that job.”

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