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Achieving Parity: A New Era of Talent Mobility for Contracting Professionals

October 26, 2023

By John Tenaglia, Principal Director of Defense Pricing and Contracting, Department of Defense, and Christine Harada, Senior Advisor, Performing, by Delegation, the Duties of the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget


The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) recently undertook a modernization of its civilian agency contracting certification program as did the Department of Defense (DoD) of its contracting certification program. This blog post, jointly authored by OFPP and the DoD team, sheds light on the shared certification standards that facilitate parity and talent mobility across the Federal contracting workforce. This effort is fully aligned with the work of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) Priority 1, Strengthening and Empowering the Federal Workforce, and Priority 3, Business of Government.

A Door Has Opened

The Federal procurement system allows agencies to acquire goods and services for mission requirements and plays a crucial role in advancing important public policy priorities, such as equity, sustainability, domestic sourcing, and cybersecurity, through over $700 billion in contracts each year. The most important part of this system is our workforce – over 40,000 talented contracting professionals who ensure all agencies get what they need to accomplish their crucial missions while being keen stewards of taxpayer dollars.

Historically, the movement of contracting professionals between civilian agencies and DoD has been limited, in part due to the differences in the contracting certification programs. While civilian agencies have been able to accept DoD employees’ contracting certifications, the reverse has been more challenging. Parity between the two contracting certification programs now provides maximum flexibility to managers when hiring qualified contracting professionals.

OFPP recently modernized its civilian agency contracting certification program to align with DoD’s contracting certification program. The new Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C) (Professional) and DoD Contracting Professional Certification reflect models of lifelong learning that reimagine how the Federal Government develops the contracting workforce. It shifts from extensive early career classroom training to foundational training, a professional exam, and job-centric credentials for just-in-time training. As a result of this alignment, OFPP, on behalf of all civilian agencies, and DoD jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing parity between civilian and defense agency contracting professionals. This means that a certified contracting professional at a civilian agency will be considered equally certified for an appropriate defense agency contracting position, thus removing any unnecessary barriers.

By aligning civilian and DoD contracting certification requirements and adopting a common set of certification standards (e.g., education, training, exam, and experience), competencies, and certification requirements across the Federal contracting workforce, we have opened the door, achieving parity between civilian agencies and DoD. Parity breaks down the barriers of the one-way door, fosters consistency, and promotes talent mobility along with a two-way exchange of expertise that benefits both civilian agencies and DoD.

This is Great News for Federal Contracting Professionals!

By opening the door for greater exchange of knowledge, expertise, and professional mobility, we establish a more robust, inspired, and engaged contracting workforce that’s well-equipped to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Additionally, these critical members of the Federal workforce now have more options in their job searches and can find the best job for their desired career path and excel in any agency.

Interested in a Career in Contracting?

Check out the Federal Internship Portal and Careers In Acquisition.

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