Robins charters new territory in educating and equipping future contracting workforce

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th ABW/PA
Members of the Team Robins contracting office are thinking outside of the box as they face the challenges of developing a sound contracting workforce today and in the future.

Maj. Gen. Tom Owen, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander, and Frank Anderson, Defense Acquisition University president, joined together to announce the creation of another ground breaking training program that will help address the need to provide skilled contracting officers to the Robins workforce.

The training program was realized in the creation of three contracting courses using existing DAU curriculum that will be available to students at Macon State College.

David Bell, president of Macon State College, said helping the community and the base prepare for the future defines what the institution is about.

General Owen stressed how important this training will be to the center and how its importance has grown since its inception due to the recent announcement Robins will become one of five regional contracting centers as part of the Air Force's realignment of installation contracting support.

The creation of the new regional contracting center will generate about 385 contracting jobs, which will double the base's current contracting workforce. The center will be responsible for supporting 11 Air Force installations from six major commands across the Southeast.

"We are laying the foundation for the future to allow us to have that workforce," General Owen said.

He added some of the contracting officers would come from other bases, but many would need to be "grown" here.

The general also noted the importance of having this training available in the community to help provide the center with workers equipped to meet the challenges and requirements of becoming a contracting officer. Through the traditional training structure it takes approximately five to seven years of on-the-job experience and specialized training to produce a qualified contracting officer. The partnership with Macon State College will produce ready-to-work employees and reduce the time required to produce contracting officers.

The first classes at Macon State will begin in January at the Warner Robins campus and will equate to the first two DAU contracting courses allowing students who complete them to start working at a higher pay level, said Patsy Reeves, director of contracting for the WR-ALC. The elective classes will be available to three majors; management, marketing and general business with a contracting concentration and will consist of three, three-hour elective courses.

Mr. Bell said, by adding contracting courses to the curriculum or class system, it just further strengthens the bond between the college and the base.

"It gives our students an added option in business degrees. If they choose to take these as electives they are better prepared for positions at the contracting directorate," said Barbara Frizzell, vice president for academic affairs at Macon State.

She added this was just another effort on the part of the college to provide classes and curriculum that would directly benefit the base and students interested in employment there.

The Air Force will also save about $13,500 in training cost for each person who completes the courses at Macon State College.

"It's a win, win for all involved," Ms. Reeves said.

Ms. Reeves described the courses as, "a great way to give a clear road map on how to become a government employee."

General Owen said the new courses are, "a big step forward" as the center strives to continue to provide better workforce development.

"It's exciting because other people haven't yet done what we are doing here today," he said.

The innovations were described by Mr. Anderson as the answer to future workforce needs both here at Robins and throughout the DAU community.

"This is the pipeline that will ensure Warner Robins has a viable institution in the future," Mr. Anderson said.

He said the creation of the courses is a leading edge practice that wouldn't have been possible without the visionary thinking of Ms. Reeves.

"We believe it has the potential to change the way we develop the workforce for the DOD," Mr. Anderson said.