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Leak: swift hiring makes early adoption possible

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center will require managers to fast-track hiring for some vacant acquisition positions, said the AFLCMC senior functional for program managers at a town hall here May 16.

Chris Leak, who is also director of acquisition excellence and program execution for AFLCMC, spoke to approximately 30 Hanscom program managers at the Hanscom Conference Center. He asked the workforce to become early adopters of advanced technology, and use all tools at their disposal to acquire the best cultures and weapons from small businesses and startups.

“When I first started my career, the government spent four dollars in research and development for every one dollar industry spent,” said Leak. “Now that ratio is reversed. Industry spends five for every government dollar. With this reality in mind, we must find creative ways to get a return on industry investment.”

The Acquisition Center for Excellence Leak oversees provides training, personnel management and general guidance to a workforce that is changing the way it does business, with the goal of attracting small businesses and startups that have the most advanced technology available.

Today, AFLCMC is working to balance career progression with program needs, ensuring the workforce can grow and advance, while also successfully managing baseline requirements for weapons systems. To do this, the Center is partnering with the program executive offices to build succession plans in concert with materiel leaders and the workforce, balancing opportunity for personal development with long-term acquisition realities.

In a move designed to increase hiring speed and opportunity, managers will be required to hire non-bargaining unit acquisition-coded positions using expedited hiring authorities. This policy applies to program management, engineers, financial management and other acquisition-related career fields.

Open positions will require a waiver for public posting, cutting out a lengthy certification process and providing current employees with a type of priority placement within their current organizations. While the waiver is exclusively for non-bargaining-eligible positions being filled, management always has the flexibility to use expedited hiring options for any position, whether it is non-bargaining or not.

“Air Force Materiel Command is listening to the workforce and its managers when we say we need to hire faster,” said David Temple, PEO Digital’s senior functional manager for personnel. “A six-month delay in a tight job market makes bringing the most qualified people on very difficult. Personnel management is in the same position as acquisition – we must get creative within the existing rules to compete.”

As training for current and future program managers also falls under Leak’s purview, he said his office is revamping the career field education training plan to emphasize agile and rapid acquisition techniques, rather than in-depth training in a select few acquisition regulations. The goal of this change is to equip the acquisition workforce to quickly adopt new technology and push for speedy fielding of advanced weapons systems.