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Contracting Officer Hiring/Retention Issue(s) @ Base X

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Hi, civilian Contracting Officer here. I work at a pretty substantially sized Air Force base. The problem we currently have is a significant amount of civilian GS-13, Unlimited Contracting Officer openings/vacancies. But we have a problem. Base X isn't filling them, nor does it seem equipped to match attrition of current GS-13 positions.

Base X has hired tons of graduates through their 7-9-11 (non masters route) program, and 9-11-12 (pre-existing masters) programs. Over the past 6 years, PK leadership has publicly discussed concern for retaining Contracting Officers. Specifically, Unlimited Contracting Officers through years 6-12 of their employment with the government. They have publicly floated providing bonuses for recently minted Unlimited Contracting Officers, but despite publicly stating they were pursuing it, it has not come to fruition. 

Additionally, utilizing Maj. Gen. Holt's contracting flight plan -- we now see fairly new officers (and enlisted,) pushed through Unlimited Contracting Officer boards to fill these vacancies rather than civilians.

 

Base X has recently begun expanding the utilization of its limited warrant program to stop-gap the GS-13 opening issue.  Base X is also clever. It is now offering limited warrants up to 25M, and putting into place restrictions on obtaining an unlimited warrant for a specified duration of employment, conflicting with messaging of a GS-13 CO shortfall and retention issue, now offering more responsibility and work for the same pay.

Base X messaging continually addresses civilian retention issues with private industry, other agencies being an issue, and doing nothing to allow for the benefits those other agencies allow for (telework,  degraded retirement benefits, etc.)

Is Base X alone? Are we special? Is it just bad messaging, poor PA, planning, what?

 

 

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Base X isn’t alone, particularly in DoD base operations.  But lots of civilian agencies are dealing with similar issues successfully.  They let promising 1102s prove themselves through demonstrative initiative, assuming responsibility, and sound decision making.  This means proving worth outside the typical FAR based expertise such as becoming ( hate to use old term) “business brokers.”  For example they assume leadership roles in acquisition (more than just contracting), especially in program management and IT roles.  This allows them in some instances to become non supervisory GS 14s and even GS 15s in isolated cases  In short, one needs to show they are more capable than their coworkers and worthy of higher grades through assumption of additional duties and responsibilities. 

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