Unsure about what skills you could gain that would make you unique in any Federal position? Try learning federal acquisition for government contracts.

If you aren’t in a position that involves finance or purchasing, this skill may not be obvious. In fact, it may seem altogether unimportant to understand government contracts. I’d argue it is one of the best, most under valued skill you can have in any Federal position.

First reason to understand government contracts:

With at least a Level 1 Federal Acquisition Certification (FAC/COR), you can oversee small low risk contracts. Many people don’t enjoy contract responsibilities so a hiring manager is drawn to job applicants with the certification. Keep in mind you will likely have the responsibility delegated to you if you get the job.

Second reason to understand government contracts:

Probably the most important reason to learn about federal contracts is to keep yourself out of trouble. There are very specific rules about how to speak to an outside company and what is (or is not) discussed. There’s also rules about how to select companies and how to direct their work (assuming they win the contract). There’s also rules about…well, let’s just leave it at there’s a TON of rules.

You might think, as most people do, that if you don’t have contracting responsibilities it shouldn’t matter to you what the rules are. And while you may not be held personally responsible for a misstep (though you can be), you will cause a lot of trouble for the agency. Be assured, you do not want your name tied to breaking one of these rules.

Third reason to understand government contracts:

You will know when someone is leading you down the wrong path (knowingly or not). You’ll hear things like: Can’t, Have to, Don’t, Must, Always, Never…and sometimes the guidance you’re getting is wrong. With acquisition training you have a better sense of what is possible and what is just plain not-legal.

So, the next time you sit down with your supervisor to talk about your professional development, bring up acquisition training. Since the training is free to federal agencies through the Federal Acquisition Institute, all you’re really asking for is time.

To be fully transparent, I’ll admit that the training isn’t fun. But, then most things that are good for you are seldom fun.

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