Military and Police

Defense-Industry Talent Exchange Pilot Program Launches

The Department of Defense announced the launch of a pilot program to connect DoD and private-sector leaders in an exchange program.

The pilot program will bring 13 participants together for the exchange. They will be able to “gain a better understanding of each other’s business operations, and share innovative practice,” according to a DoD press release.

The participants will be selected among those working in acquisitions, the arm of the Department of Defense responsible for purchasing new equipment, software, and negotiating contracts. Because the work of these DoD individuals is so closely tied to their industry counterparts, the exchange program promises to help them better learn how to support one another.

“I am very excited about this groundbreaking program because it gives our DOD acquisition professionals an incredible opportunity to gain experience and insight with their industry colleagues,” said Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord.

The program will be one focused on professional growth and development. “One of the key objectives of this program is to advance each participant’s professional and leadership development, so it’s a win-win for the department and industry,” Lord continued. Participants will benefit from the additional networking that comes with working closely with their counterparts in either the DoD or private sector, as well as build their own knowledge and expertise.

How Will it Work?

DoD civilian employees will be temporarily assigned to participating private-sector companies. Private-sector participants will come to work at the DoD. Official guidance states that participants will work within the exchange anywhere from three months to two years, with an optional additional two-year extension. The program is designed for roughly six-month exchanges.

The program will not require a one-for-one exchange between the DoD and private sector. Just because a particular organization sends an employee to the DoD through the exchange does not mean that they will necessarily host a DoD employee during that time. Instead, the focus is on exchanging “knowledge, experience, and skills” between the two organizations.

The program is open to all DoD civilian employees at General Schedule (GS) level 12 or above, or at the Federal Wage System journeyman level or above. Selected participants from both the DoD and private sector “must have knowledge, skills, and abilities to be considered a subject matter expert in their occupational field, perform and meet or exceed all performance standards established at the fully successful level or above” to be considered, according to the program’s FAQ page.

Expanded Opportunities Within DoD

If successful, the program will likely be expanded to other parts of the DoD or industry companies. “Harnessing the lessons learned from this pilot program will inform further expansion of this and future opportunities across DOD,” said Executive Director for Human Capital Initiatives José M. Gonzalez.

Similar exchange programs have been implemented within the DoD. Some military members are able to apply for an exchange tour in which they are temporarily assigned to a private-sector company to learn and bring best practices back to their branch of service. It has proved especially beneficial in fields that requires close work with the private sector, such as communications and cyber technology. The acquisitions force is poised to take advantage of those opportunities and improve their own mission accomplishment.

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Katie Begley

Katie Begley is a US Naval Academy graduate and former Surface Warfare Officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education, and parenting subjects. Katie has worked in numerous communications roles for volunteer organizations and professionally for a local parenting magazine.

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