2017 Distinguished Services Awards: Return on Investment

ChrisAwards, Return on Investment

Category: Return on Investment (ROI)
Project Title: Department of Veterans Affairs FAC-COR Level I Training
Agency: VA Acquisition Academy Program Management School
Program Dates: From: 10/2015 To: 04/2016

Accepting: Keith Newman and Craig Bedard, VA Acquisition Academy Program Management School, Department of Veterans Affairs

Briefly state the overall mission of the Nominee’s organization.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy (VAAA) trains employees who manage over $20B to ensure it efficiently and effectively provides the services to our Nation’s Veterans through an integrated competency-based training curriculum. VAAA’s fundamental learning strategy reflects a commitment to stakeholder engagement and value measurement methodologies to ensure business results. VAAA creates learning opportunities for acquisition professionals and teams to efficiently award and manage contracts to attain the goods and services needed to achieve the vital mission of VA.

The VAAA Program Management School develops and delivers learning solutions for the Project/Program Management (P/PM) and Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) components of the acquisition workforce to prepare, enable, and inspire competent, certified, qualified, and higher performing acquisition professionals to manage projects, programs, and resources to provide timely, best value solutions to serve Veterans and their families.

Describe how the initiative is cutting edge.
The VAAA Program Management (PM) School developed a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) specific online, computer-based training (CBT) to satisfy the training needed for a Federal Acquisition Certification-Contracting Officer Representative (FAC-COR) I Level certification. Previously, VA COR employees had few effective or efficient options to complete required training for certification. One option was to attend training offered by the Department of Defense (DoD), which is highly DoD-acquisition process specific. Another option was to pay a private vendor to attend training that met the requirements for certification, which was too general for VA acquisition procedures. In response, VAAA developed a 40-hour, FAC-COR Level II course, but that course was far above the contract complexity and training-time commitment that a FAC-COR Level I employee needed. VAAA’s PM School realized that VA employees did not have a FAC-COR Level I training option at VA or readily available from other non-civilian government agencies, which had a direct impact on the acquisition of $20 billion of goods and services each year for Veterans.

Recognizing time as a precious commodity, the PM School developed a course that would provide the appropriate amount of training for the Level I Contracting Officer Representative (COR). Working with VA’s acquisition career manager, the PM School developed an eight-hour, virtual FAC-COR I training class to meet the knowledge and competencies for certification and to fulfill job tasks of a Level I COR employee. During course development, the PM School collaborated with VAAA Contracting Professional School staff to create training aligned with VA contracting procedures and acquisition processes. In addition, the PM School used an existing distance learning delivery platform that allowed the school to quickly and easily deploy the training course throughout VA. The PM School also integrated the FAC-COR Level I course with VAAA’s COR toolkit, giving participants access to checklists, job aids and templates during course exercises and after course completion.

The virtual Federal Acquisition Certification for Contracting Officer’s Representatives (FAC-COR) training program validates our service to providing the workforce with the training they need, when they need it, and how they need it in order to achieve mission results. VAAA is committed to utilizing its instructional systems design expertise to offer students cutting-edge training solutions. VAAA’s virtual FAC-COR course represents the academy’s ability to bring together sound curriculum with new technologies to provide learners best in class training. VAAA’s virtual FAC-COR training saves money through travel avoidance, increases productivity, and creates efficiency as students gain the appropriate amount of training versus more than they need.

Indicate how it is linked to the organization’s mission.
CORs serve a critical role in federal acquisitions. CORs ensure contractors meet the commitment of their contracts, oversee the proper development of requirements, and assist contracting officers in managing their contracts. The role of the COR can often be an ancillary responsibility of a federal employee, therefore new CORs are continuously being selected and trained. VA has more than 10,000 CORs nationwide to manage that function. Through the FAC-COR Level I training course, the PM School provided a cost-efficient learning solution for COR Level I employees. VA provided a certification for Level I COR employees, which validates Level I CORs’ knowledge and skills. A COR Level I training solution provides a best-value option for Veterans since Level I CORs receive the appropriate VA-related training to fulfill job responsibilities at an acceptable cost.

Elaborate on outcomes resulting from the initiative and the impact that the initiative had on the organization.
Previously, FAC-COR Level I employees completed a non-VA training and were challenged to implement their training into a VA acquisition environment, or attended a FAC-COR Level II course, discussing and working on contractual components outside the scope of their job duties. Currently, because of the training initiative, VA Level I CORs complete a training and certification program and are adequately equipped with the appropriate VA-specific skills needed to seize the opportunity and immediately begin working on VA acquisition projects. In addition, the PM School also realized a significant cost savings than if all employees attended the higher level FAC-COR Level II training. Instead of training all COR employees at a Level II, with a cost of $700 per individual, the PM School can now provide the appropriate amount of training to a Level I COR, at $50 per student, which represents a cost savings of $650 dollars and 24 hours for each participant. The PM School developed the Level I COR training in seven months for a cost of $198,889.60, and with a cost savings of $650 per student substantiated this savings after the first 350 participants, within the first four months. In addition to the training cost, VA saved 8,400 hours for these 350 students by not providing training above their required need. VA will continue to experience these cost savings.

Cite proof of your claims. For example, if you used needs assessment or competency based instruments include those or reference where they may be found such as a web address, news article, or a journal.

  • 497 total FAC-COR I course participants (October 1, 2016 – February 22, 2017)
  • Cost savings of 497 employees attending FAC-COR Level II instead of Level I training:$298,200 as of February 22, 2017
  • Return on Investment (ROI):Seven-month development cost = $198, 889.60• Break-even point realized after first 350 participants (within first four months)
  • Sample survey quotes from participants, after a FAC-COR I training course:
    • “Outstanding in-depth training that was very easy to follow and provided the necessary tools to effectively do my duties as a COR.”
    • “This course was fantastic. I especially liked the ability to complete online, as I was able to take breaks and complete other tasks while on duty.”
    • “I especially liked the go at your own pace with no time limits. This was very beneficial with my current work schedule.”