The majority of Energy Department employees are involved with acquisition in some ways but the department does not have a full picture of how well their skills meet its needs and many of them would benefit from additional training, the GAO has said.
GAO focused on three components–the Office of Science, the Office of Environmental Management and the National Nuclear Security Administration—of a department that spends about four-fifths of its annual budget on contracts.
GAO said that officials “have raised concerns that they do not have enough staff or staff with the right skills in the acquisition workforce to properly oversee contracts. However, NNSA has conducted limited evaluations of gaps in skills and competencies for some positions in its acquisition workforce, and the other offices in GAO’s review have not conducted such analyses.”
The department generally requires acquisition-related training only for staff such as contracting officers who hold federal or DoE acquisition certifications but they represent only about 15 percent of the 13,000-position workforce, GAO said, even though many of the others “may play a critical role in DoE’s acquisition process.” OMB guidance states agencies should consider the functions performed by staff members, such as requirements development by a technical expert, and include any significant acquisition-related positions in their acquisition training programs, it said.
It said the department agreed with its recommendations to review criteria for inclusion in training through its Acquisition Career Management Program and to identify gaps in skills and competencies for staff with acquisition responsibilities.