Implementing proposed changes to defense acquisition will require a whole new kind of contracting officer. Peter Levine, senior research fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses, says that the defense acquisition workforce needs to change how they view career paths.
“We have a fundamental mismatch between this idea that we should have a career-long building assignments and a concerted career path, and the model of the civil service itself, which is based on that you hire an individual for a particular position and they stay in that position, as long as they want to and don’t get to move on unless there’s a vacancy and they apply for it.” Levine said. “The military model is different, where you have rotational assignments and so you can naturally build that career path. The civil service model has an advantage in building long-term expertise and institutional knowledge, but it doesn’t lend itself to the kind of career-building model that the section 809 panel is working for. What I suggest is we need to build into the civil service system a flexibility to do rotational assignments.”