From the early 1990s through 2008 the Defense Acquisition Workforce significantly decreased in size due to the reduction of government personnel and outsourcing of tasks to contractors. Simultaneously, DoD acquired increasingly complex weapon systems that raised the complexity of the acquisition environment in fields such as contracting, engineering and others resulting in substantially increased acquisition workloads. In 2008 it became apparent that the acquisition workforce lacked the capacity and capability to adequately meet its growing demands. Additionally, in 2008, 57% of the acquisition workforce was eligible to retire within 10 years, while the number of early career professionals was not sufficient to sustain the force. Warfighters in all branches of Services were in danger of insufficient equipment, services and capability to perform their missions.
Faced with this human capital situation, the Executive Branch and Members of Congress recognized the need to restore DoD’s Acquisition Workforce. To restore, responsibly sustain, and continuously improve the quality of the acquisition workforce, sufficient and stable dedicated funding was required. Congress established the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund, or DAWDF, with the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the goals to improve DoD’s Acquisition Workforce as required.
Section 1705 of title 10, United States Code, “Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund” (hereafter, DAWDF, the Fund, or section 1705), directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish the DAWDF to provide funding for the recruitment, training, and retention of DoD acquisition personnel. The purpose of the DAWDF is to ensure the DoD acquisition workforce (AWF) has the capacity, in both personnel and skills, needed to (1) properly perform its mission; (2) provide appropriate oversight of contractor performance; and (3) ensure that the Department receives the best value for the expenditure of public resources.
DAWDF, in addition to other funds that may be available, allow DoD to reshape its workforce with sufficient numbers of high quality DoD personnel to meet its increasing challenges. Since 2008, the 10-year retirement eligible acquisition workforce has been reduced to 49.1% (from 57%) while the percentage of early career (over 20 years to retirement eligible) increased to 25.5% from 19.8%, significantly improving the sustainability of the workforce. Additionally, during the same time, DAWDF facilitated a significant quality improvement of the Acquisition Workforce with an increase in workforce certification by 18% as well as significant increases in education level (from 76.9% to over 91% with bachelor’s degrees).