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Lawmakers seek special pay for acquisition professionals

Apr. 27, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By RICK MAZE   |   Comments
Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., is chair of the House Armed Services Committee, which on April 21 approved the bill calling for new financial incentives for civilian workers in the military's weapons acquisitions programs.
Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., is chair of the House Armed Services Committee, which on April 21 approved the bill calling for new financial incentives for civilian workers in the military's weapons acquisitions programs. (File photo / Getty Images)

A new effort to overhaul the military's weapons acquisition programs includes a requirement for new financial incentives for civilian workers, along with a nonbinding recommendation for similar incentives for the service members who work alongside them.

The incentives included in HR 5013, the House's newest attempt to get control over weapons contracts, probably would not begin until 2012, according to an analysis of the bill prepared by the Congressional Budget Office.

Exact amounts for bonuses, incentive pays and promotions are not included in the bill, leaving decisions to the Defense Department about specific enhancements.

CBO estimates a modest 5 percent increase in the average $1,000 bonus paid to federal civilians in the acquisition work force would add up to $7 million a year in additional costs.

The bill does not specifically provide the incentives to military personnel but "would encourage the secretary of defense to extend such incentives to members of the military in the acquisition workforce whenever possible," according to the House Armed Services Committee report accompanying the bill.

Aides said there was no need to specifically include incentives and bonuses for military people in acquisition jobs because there is enough flexibility in existing compensation to allow for tailored financial incentives.

Lawmakers have given the bill a cumbersome title: the Implementing Management for Performance and Related Reforms to Obtain Value in Every Acquisition Act of 2010 written to form a specific acronym: the IMPROVE Acquisition Act.

Added incentives for civilian and military workers are a key part of the reform, designed to create a more experienced and professional cadre of acquisition workers.

To get a better idea of career enhancement for the acquisition workforce, the bill asks for annual reports on the number of people working in acquisition-related jobs and the experience level of each, with specific emphasis on how long people stay in the jobs and where they land if they are reassigned within the military.

For active-duty service members, for whom acquisition often is a subspecialty rather than a primary skill, tracking whether they return to acquisition jobs between other assignments is something lawmakers want to watch closely.

The House Armed Services Committee approved the bill on a 56-0 vote April 21, and there is a chance it may pass the full House of Representatives as a stand-alone bill.

However, the legislative plan for the bill is to attach it to the House's version of the 2011 defense authorization bill, which the armed services committee will write later this month, a maneuver aimed at ensuring it is considered as part of negotiations between the House and Senate during discussions about the annual defense budget.

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