Air Force 63a Assignment Team

DAWIA Implementation Through the APDP

DAWIA was signed into law in November 1990 and updated in 2004. It requires the Secretary of Defense, acting through the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to establish education and training standards, requirements, and courses for both the military and civilian members of the acquisition workforce.

The Defense AT&L Workforce Education, Training, and Career Development Program has implemented the objectives of DAWIA across the DoD components, mandated certification requirements for acquisition management positions, and established statutorily mandated assignment-specific education, training, and experience requirements for program managers, deputy program managers, and program executive officers. In the Air Force, DAWIA is implemented through the APDP. The Air Force APDP certification process reflects the education, training, and duty experience needed by the acquisition, technology, and logistics career fields through formal programs (USAF, 2008, pg. 19).

DAWIA and APDP Educational Requirements for the Acquisition Corps

Air Force implementation of DAWIA requires that members of the Acquisition Corps have baccalaureate degrees (but does not specify that they must be STEM degrees) in order to become an Acquisition Corps member (USAF, 2008, pg. 21). DAWIA specifies 24 semester credit hours (or the equivalent) from among the following disciplines: accounting, business finance, law, contracts, purchasing, economics, industrial management, marketing, organization and management, and quantitative methods.4 An alternative is “24 semester credit hours (or the equivalent) in the person’s acquisition career field and 12 semester hours from among accounting, business finance, law, contracts, purchasing, economics, industrial management, marketing, organization and management, and quantitative methods” (USAF, 2008, pg. 21).

Although specific educational requirements in STEM disciplines are not listed at the baccalaureate level, present OSD policy states that, for individuals serving in program management capacities at Level II, a master’s degree is desirable, preferably with a major in engineering, systems management, business administration, or a related field (USAF, 2008, pg. 21, emphasis added).5 However, DAWIA does require that program executive officers, program directors, and deputy program directors of major defense programs and significant nonmajor programs complete the Defense System Management College’s program management course. DAWIA further directs that general officers in a CAP have 10 years of acquisition experience

APDP Level I Certification

APDP Level I certification in program management is granted after completion of mandatory training and accrual of one year of acquisition experience. In the Air Force, typical entry level (years 1–3) grades are GS-7/9/11 (or pay band equivalent) for civilians and O1/O2 for officers. However, a substantial number of civilians and officers with more seniority cross over to program management from other Air Force occupational series and specialties or from outside the Air Force, some with more acquisition experience (USAF, 2008, pg. 19). In the U.S. military services other than the Air Force, the vast majority of acquisition officers transfer into program management from a variety of operational or support backgrounds at O3/O4 levels.

becomes more of a strategist than a technical expert. Technical grounding, management experience, and leadership skills allow senior leaders to make the critical decisions that define organizational vision and focus.


This section conveys the main points in presentations to the committee from representatives of functional activities across the Air Force on the posture and status of the officer and civilian workforce in positions that require a STEM degree.

Air Force Personnel Center

From the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) perspective,6 while the majority of the five career fields that require a STEM degree appear relatively healthy in the aggregate, there are shortages at the captain level. Electrical engineers understandably remain in high demand, especially in light of the computerization and information technology enablers to myriad processes and programs, with positions in the 32E, 33S, and 62E career fields all competing for quality technically based candidates in the pool of eligible accessions. The data presented show a specific shortage of electrical engineers in these three career fields. Further, the shortage at the captain level is accelerated by the current high operational tempo, especially within the 32E community, which raises retention concerns.

Air Force Space Command

Speaking from an operational perspective, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) representative expressed concerns about the adequacy of the workforce in positions requiring or desiring a STEM degree. 7 He pointed out that significant numbers of Air Force Specialty codes (AFSCs) within the space community require or desire STEM degrees. For example, the 13S (Space and Missile career field), 14N (Intelligence), and 15W AFSCs all desire a STEM-related degree as an accession requirement but do not require it, while 32E, 33S, 61S, and 62E AFSCs all require a STEM-related degree. Specifically, the command has 1,923 13S requirements, of which only 102 have any degree-related requirements. Further, to meet its needs, AFSPC seeks to use extensive crossflow from 61S and 62E to 63A (acquisition program manager) duties because it considers technical and scientific experience and background necessary to succeed in the program management role. However, the AFSPC representative emphasized that the majority of the billets do not specify education requirements (e.g., a specific degree or level).

Given AFSPC’s assessment of its own STEM-related requirements, the representative offered the opinion that the Air Force may be paying too much for technical expertise because of how it is procured. He believes that requisite technical expertise has migrated to the private sector and that, because of its unique and highly technical nature, it is extremely expensive to acquire by contract. AFSPC Headquarters employs contract personnel at a cost of $55 million, and the amount is growing. Contract costs are running at $250,000 per full-time equivalent and higher. The AFSPC representative suggested, as did the Air Force Materiel Command representative (see

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