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Federal Acquisition

The specialization in Federal Acquisitions is designed for students who seek rewarding careers in one of the fastest-growing fields of public service.

 The federal government is the world’s largest single buyer of goods and services, spending hundreds of billions of dollars to meet the country’s many critical requirements.Today, as the nation faces unprecedented budgetary pressures, the need to acquire these goods and services efficiently and effectively has never been greater.

Leaders and managers who can deliver better acquisition outcomes to support diverse areas, such as military operations, homeland security, the provision of health care, response to natural disasters, energy research and development, etc. are desperately needed.  Even as federal government spending has soared in recent years, the acquisition workforce has not kept pace.  Furthermore, based on current workforce demographics, well over half of the federal acquisition workforce will be eligible to retire within the next ten years.  As a result, thousands of new acquisition management employees are now beginning to be hired.

Similarly, as state and local governments feel their budgets increasingly squeezed, along with a simultaneous increase in demand for those services, they also see a need to hire “smart buyers.”  Though this program focuses on federal acquisitions, the experience and education offered will be of great value to students seeking to help state and local governments expand their capabilities to meet this need.

In addition to taking courses in acquisition management, federal government contracting and pricing, students will have the opportunity to conduct research and participate in acquisition-related activities in the School’s Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, under the direction of Professor Jacques S. Gansler, Ph.D. (former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from 1997- 2001).  Outside the classroom, students will have the opportunity to gain valuable professional experience through internships at federal agencies and elsewhere.  Tuition assistance is available to qualified applicants.

Federal Acquisition Specialization Curriculum

In addition to meeting the overall requirements of their degree program, students electing to specialize in Federal Acquisition take the following courses:

Federal Acquisition: Concepts and Management (PUAF689A).  Provides an overview of acquisition as one of the basic functions of government.  Specifically focuses on the scope of acquisition, including organizational structures, regulations, strategies and issues of acquisition processes and management, from the development of an initial capability or need, through design, development, production, fielding, sustainment, and disposal.  Introduces the principles and concepts that underlie successful acquisition management – from major systems development and production, through buying services and common commodities.  Discusses how these concepts apply at state and local levels.

Government Contracting and Pricing (PUAF698G).  Reviews all aspects of federal government contracting, sub-contracting and related challenges, from the development of solicitation to final close-out, within the context of the federal laws and the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). Provides practical tools and techniques for establishing and evaluating prices for government contracts.

Current issues in Federal Acquisition (PUAF689F).  Explores ways to improve (from a public policy perspective) the efficiency and effectiveness with which the government goes about acquiring well over $300 billion of goods and services. Focuses, as an “example case,” on issues in federal acquisition from the U.S. Department of Defense’s perspective, since it buys the most goods and services and is often used as a model by other departments and agencies. Issues covered include: “requirements”; budgeting; Congress; science and technology; design, development, production and support (management and costs); competition; public/private partnerships; privatization; small business innovation; role of non-profits; government oversight; the press; the supplying industries (structure, conduct, performance – actual and desired); and international considerations (security, industrial structures and trade). Primarily makes use of case-studies, with selected complimentary readings (including one short, classic book – Elton Morrison’s “Man, Machines, and Modern Times”).

One other MFL public finance or public management and leadership course of student’s choosing.

Federal Acquisition Specialization Director

For more information on the Federal Acquisition Specialization, contact :
Professor William Lucyshyn
lucyshyn@umd.edu