From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

Another Warning of a Retiring Workforce
By Stephen Barr / Monday, August 14, 2006

Crunch time for the federal acquisition workforce hits in 2015.

That’s when 54 percent of contracting officers will be eligible to
retire, according to a recently released report by the Federal
Acquisition Institute. That is a sharp jump from fiscal 2005, when only
13 percent were eligible.

The loss of experienced officers could be severe at the Small Business
Administration, where 81 percent of contracting officers will be
eligible to retire in 2015, and at the Army, the Navy and the Energy,
Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments, where at
least 60 percent will be eligible for retirement.

Dire retirement projections are not new. The Office of Personnel
Management has repeatedly warned agencies this year that estimates show
40 percent of the federal workforce will retire over the next 10 years.
Without adequate planning, some agencies may find it more difficult to
deliver services and administer programs.

For federal procurement, however, a wave of retirements could be
especially critical. Contracting officers oversee about $350 billion a
year in spending, and there are concerns that not enough mid-career
professionals will be left to replace retirees because of budget and
staff cuts in the 1990s that thinned the ranks.

Karen A. Pica , director of the Federal Acquisition Institute, said the
report offers some hope that an exodus will not take place. In 2005,
when 13 percent of contracting officers were eligible to retire, only 8
percent did so.

“We are retaining some of the knowledge base,” she said.

Pica also noted that the report shows that some agencies have stepped
up recruiting from colleges and the private sector. Newcomers to the
contracting officer position — the 1102 job series — are 33.6 years
old, on average. Overall, contracting officers are 45.8 years old, on
average, according to the report.

{Stephen Barr’s e-mail address is barrs [at] washpost [dot] com}