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The Air Force is in the process of significantly changing the way it purchases goods and services, with the goals of reducing costs and increasing performance to better support its missions. A procurement transformation division was created to lead these implementation efforts, and the new division highlighted two related areas for particular emphasis: (1) implementation of cross-functional teams (commodity councils) to develop strategies for individual commodity groups and (2) procurement workforce development to support implementation. This monograph reviews commercial-sector commodity council activities and skills. A preliminary review of the Defense Acquisition University’s and Air Force Institute of Technology’s curricula indicate that they currently cover a number of the needed skills; however, there are fewer, if any, opportunities to learn some of the more-sophisticated skills associated with the new purchasing and supply management practices the Air Force is implementing. The monograph’s literature review and commercial sector interviews suggest that training programs tend to be multifunctional, involving personnel with diverse backgrounds that are relevant to new practices. Training programs are matched to learning goals; structured classroom or web-based learning is used to develop foundational skills whereas more-applied forms of learning such as formal on-the-job training (OJT) and mentoring programs are used to develop higher levels of expertise. Finally, the monograph includes a framework of metrics to track progress and refine procurement-workforce-development efforts over time.

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The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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