Acquisition workers now have a much easier path to track continuous learning requirements

The Federal Acquisition launched the final piece of the replacement for the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS) in May, terminati...

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Earlier this summer, the federal civilian contracting community all went back to zero. That is, zero hours of training.

But don’t worry, that actually was a good thing because the Federal Acquisition Institute and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy shut down a legacy training system and placed the finishing touches on its new one.

The move away from the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS) and to a commercial system from Cornerstone OnDemand, which started in June 2021, came to completion in May with the launch of the continuous learning module.

Joanie Newhart, the associate administrator for acquisition workforce programs at OFPP, said now all contracting officers and other acquisition professionals have the same system, the same learning module to track and maintain all the certifications.

Joanie Newhart is the associate administrator for acquisition workforce programs at OFPP.

“This turned out to be a big process improvement from FAITIS,” Newhart said in an interview with Federal News Network. “We’ve always had two-year continuous learning periods. So May 1 was just the start of another two-year continuous learning period. It’s exactly what we’ve been doing. But the system is making it a lot easier to track your continuous learning. We want our acquisition workforce to focus on their jobs and doing innovative things. We don’t want them to have to figure out how many training continuous learning points that they want.”

FAI launched FAITAS in May 2011 and began looking for its replacement in 2016. The system supports the training and career development needs of nearly 215,000 registered users across 113 agencies, including 23 CFO Act departments, according to FAI’s 2021 strategic plan.

Lesley Field, the acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said FAITAS was a home grown system and each agency had their own or at least dissimilar instances, creating both a lack of consistency across the government and a challenge to innovate and update the tools and technology.

Field said the commercial system will bring everyone to the same baseline and then give every agency new modules and other innovations as Cornerstone and FAI develop them.

New dashboard to track all requirements

One example of that is the continuous learning dashboard.

“The dashboard is a really big improvement over FAITAS. If I had a certification for contracting officers’ representative and one for contracting officer, each one had different continuous learning periods. I had to figure that out. Then I had to figure out what training I had taken so far to meet the 80-hour requirements in two years. So it took a bit of work on somebody’s part to figure all of that out,” Newhart said. “Now it’s very intuitive. You log into the system and the dashboard shows you, and you have one continuous learning period for any certification. It lists your training courses that you’ve taken, what you yet to take and when you have to finish it. It’s so more intuitive and so much easier than I think it’s a huge benefit.”

Newhart added that the dashboard also lets FAI fine tune its training to address new requirements or changes that require new skillsets.

“It’s a commercial platform so we’ve got more standardization, which enables streamline management and planning based on common definition. For example, we now have a common continuous learning window so that makes everything easier. We’ve also gained process efficiencies. For example, we can bulk process external learning events. That saves countless hours of repetitive input and processing time. If you think about a conference, a training provider can upload all of the attendees information versus having each attendee do that so much, much more efficient. We can also do better resource sharing. For example, the training assets of the Defense Acquisition University, FAI and some of the civilian agency acquisition schools now share training resources in a single location so that we can more easily find and register for classes across all of these institutions,” Field said.

FAI also provides a career path roadmap tool that helps guide contracting professionals to figure how to advance their careers.

Newhart said continuous learning can take many forms and FAI and its partners are providing a host of career advancement tools.

Field said she credits agency leadership, career managers and acquisition workers on the ground for helping to develop the requirements for the follow-on to FAITAS and ensure it remains relevant going forward.


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