CP-14 - Contracting and Acquisition Career Program
SECTION VIII - CONTINUOUS LEARNING
A. Continuous Learning. Continuous Learning is critical to the contracting business management professional. The concept of continuous learning for contracting professionals is designed to ensure that, in addition to meeting the minimum regulatory and statutory requirements for training, education and experience, a mechanism is in place to encourage and promote professional development throughout an entire career, ensuring individuals remain current in relevant principles and practices.
- To ensure the highest degree of professionalism in the Contracting and Acquisition Career Program, workforce learning must be continuous throughout an individual's career. To this end the Contracting and Acquisition Career Program endorses and abides by the policy and implementing practices detailed in the DoD Policy on Continuous Learning. Employees, supervisors, and managers must become familiar with this policy, which is available on the internet at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dp/docs2002/Continue_Learn_Policy_ATL_Workforce.pdf
- Continuous learning emphasizes enhancing the major areas discussed throughout this ACTEDS Plan: training, education, experience, and leadership. This plan provides a continuum of education, training and experiential opportunities which build upon one another. Once certification requirements at a specific level are achieved, continuous learning activities should become the focus. Attaining certification standards takes precedence, and IDPs must support continuous learning beyond the certification baseline, which is considered a minimum requirement. Certification training will count for continuous learning points. The Continuous Learning standard is the completion of 80 Continuous Learning Points every two years after completion of certification requirements for the position encumbered, with one point awarded for each hour of Continuous Learning participation.
- The Continuous Learning program is intended to provide a large degree of flexibility, accommodating the needs of the individual employee, the supervisor, and the organization. The following list provides examples of activity categories appropriate for the awarding of Continuous Learning Points: Functional and Technical Training; Leadership Training; Academic Courses at Institutions of Higher Education; Experiential and Developmental Assignments; and Professional Activities. The Master Training Plan at Appendix I details the "Mandatory" and "Desired" training, education, experience, and self-development activities for CP-14; virtually all of the "Desired" activities could be credited toward Continuous Learning Points, if approved by one's supervisor. The DoD Policy on Continuous Learning provides additional specific examples of possible activities for continuous learning beyond those listed in Appendix I. Also, DAU supports continuous learning through its Continuous Learning Center (CLC) which provides a single portal for easy access to a multitude of continuous learning opportunities. The CLC is available online at http://www.dau.mil/CLC/default.aspx.
- The procedures for reporting and monitoring the accrual of Continuous Learning Points are being managed by the Army Acquisition Support Center. For specific details of the Continuous Learning Policy and associated procedures, CP-14 members should review the details of Army's implementing policy at http://asc.army.mil/. Because achievement of continuous learning points may, for example, be used as one among many evaluation factors for: selecting employees for advanced development programs such as the DLAMP; selection for assignments and promotions; and, when appraising elements of supervisory performance encompassing management and development of subordinates, the IDP (discussed in Section IX) is used as a process for identifying certain training for continuous learning opportunities and the ACRB is used to record the accrual of the points (with the supervisors concurrence).
- An important aspect of the Continuous Learning Policy is for individuals in leadership positions. This leadership training complements being certified for one's position and meeting the 80 hours of continuous learning. It is also highly desirable, although not mandatory, for individuals to have at least one informal on-the-job experience leading a project team, a Process Action Team, or other work team at a similar level before being assigned to a new or higher-level leadership position. Prior to assignment to a Senior Executive Service position, the individual must have training, or proven experience in those leadership competencies, and the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) appropriate at the senior manager level, and before being appointed to the position, and should have attended the Senior Acquisition Course at ICAF, or an equivalent. This ACTEDS Plan supports leadership training as a component of continuous learning in that the mandatory and desired courses listed in the Civilian Leadership Training Core Curriculum (see Figure 10) taken at prescribed times coincide with the leadership training standards of the DoD Policy on Continuous Learning, meeting or exceeding the hour requirements established by DoD.
B. Continuing Education Units. Continuing education is defined as structured educational and training experiences for personal or professional development in which participants are assumed to have previously attained a basic level of education, training, or experience. Based on this definition, CP-14 members who are certified at Acquisition Career Level I or higher are excellent candidates to benefit from continuing education and, Continuing Education Units are an excellent method for acquiring Continuous Learning Points. One CEU equates to ten Continuous Learning Points.
- HQDA, Contracting Career Program Office is an authorized Continuing Education Unit (CEU) provider (approved by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training - IACET). Courses sponsored by the HQDA, Acquisition Excellence and Contracting Career Program Offices, such as Acquisition Excellence Training will result in the award of one CEU for each ten contact hours.
- Appendix E of the DAU Catalog provides a list of CEU credits that may be awarded for attending DAU courses beyond the mandatory courses required for certification. Additional certification in ACFs other than an individual's primary ACF is encouraged and CEU credits from these courses may be applied to one's Continuous Learning Point requirement.
C. Professional Development. Professional self-development is achieved by supplementing formal training pursuant to this ACTEDS Plan with membership in professional associations, research, and professional reading. Although training, seminars, and workshops offered by professional organizations are not always reflected in IDPs, participation in these activities is valuable to the employee as a source of self-development, and in some cases may be used to meet Continuous Learning Point requirements. Membership in professional associations is encouraged as a means of obtaining current knowledge in one's career field. Trade associations and professional societies publish literature that contains a wide range of technical information not readily accessible to the general public. Attendance at annual meetings and conferences provides an opportunity to exchange ideas and concepts with colleagues employed in private industry and other agencies. There are two services of professional associations that should be utilized by acquisition professionals: professional certification or licensing and continuing education programs. Appendix I, Master Training Plan, includes a listing of Acquisition and Contracting Professional Licenses and Certificates, which careerists should pursue as part of their continuous learning and professional self-development in pursuit of enhancing their efficiency as a contracting business management professional.