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THE PROFESSIONAL FOOTPRINT OF HIGH PERFORMANCE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING OFFICERS: A STUDY OF KNOWLEDGE WORKER CHARACTERISTICS. Open Access

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Today's Federal government acquisition professionals work in complex and challenging environments. Successful acquisition outcomes are a direct result of having the right personnel supporting the acquisition lifecycle. The government needs talented and trained individuals who can develop, manage, and oversee acquisitions in accordance with sound acquisition management principles. The Federal government acquires over $500 billion in goods and services annually and must support a wide variety of missions and priorities. It must depend on a highly-skilled acquisition workforce to deliver the best value to the taxpayer. Many sources, including the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (see OMB Policy Letter 05-01 dated April 15, 2005 titled, Developing and Managing the Acquisition Workforce), have cited that a significant shortage of trained and knowledgeable acquisition workforce personnel exists government-wide. This shortage of trained and highly skilled acquisition personnel adversely impacts the Federal government's ability to acquire goods and services. Thus, there is a genuine need to identify the right knowledge interventions (e.g., training, mentoring) that can make current acquisition professionals more effective. In addition, it is important to recruit more knowledge workers suited to the demands of this job field. The objective of this study is to provide a framework of characteristics that informs this workforce improvement effort. Using a Grounded Theory methodology, 19 Government Contracting Officers (GCOs) were interviewed and their interview data analyzed. These GCOs are part of the acquisition workforce that performs the critical functions for planning, execution and management of acquisitions. The results of this study identified a unique set of characteristics that describe high performing GCO knowledge workers. These GCO characteristics can be organized in five categories "high ethical standards", "mission focused attitude", "entrepreneurial approach" , "continuous learning" and "performing results".The result of this study is a taxonomy of knowledge worker's characteristics (TOKWC) for GCO role. This taxonomy informs acquisition management on how to develop knowledge interventions and provides recruiting and hiring guidance that improves the GCO workforce. The study also serves as a basis for further research into other types of knowledge workers and their characteristics.

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