Maintaining the Army's "Smart Buyer" Capability in a Period of Downsizing

by Kenneth Horn, Carolyn Wong, Elliot Axelband, Paul S. Steinberg, Ike Chang

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Today, the Army possesses a competent "smart buyer" (SB) capability. But unless corrective measures are taken shortly, the effect of downsizing the federal government workforce may undermine the Army's future SB capability. This white paper sets out to identify what is needed to counteract the effect of personnel downsizing through changes/efficiencies in the SB capability and workforce. Arroyo Center research over the last several years has found three ingredients required to provide a good SB capability: (1) a collaborative research environment, (2) communications with users, and (3) a cadre of talented and trained technical staff. Providing the first ingredient will entail implementing new ways of doing business using acquisition-reform initiatives that permit leveraging of the other services and government agencies and partnering with industry. Providing the second might entail developing organizational realignments that allow close two-way SB communications. To provide the third, the Army should exploit the full range of recruiting tools to attract the most promising candidates, implement career development opportunities to ensure that employees can perform the SB function, and create influences to encourage talented and promising SBs to stay.

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