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UMD Launching Program to Train Next-Gen Government Contracting Experts

November 26, 2012
Contacts: 

Jennifer Talhelm, 301-405-4390 or jtalhelm@umd.edu

educating a new corps of contracting professionals

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Responding to growing need in the public and private sectors, the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland is launching a new academic program to train students in the complicated field of government purchasing and contracting.

The program is tailored to train students entering the workforce at a time when U.S. federal, state and local governments are seeking to do more with fewer resources. The federal government alone buys over $400 billion in goods and services each year, and its needs are growing exponentially - even as lawmakers are seeking to cut government spending and eliminate waste from the budget.

Compounding the issue is that thousands of experienced acquisition professionals are approaching retirement age. The government and its suppliers are already looking to hire a new generation of public- and private-sector workers with the skills and training to manage the complicated field of government contracting during difficult financial times.

"Federal acquisition is at a crisis point - agencies are faced with an aging and retiring workforce, shrinking dollars and increased demands," said Public Policy Professor Jacques Gansler, who served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from 1997-2001, and who will lead the new program. "It's critical that government dollars achieve the maximum benefit for the nation."

Students electing to specialize in the new School of Public Policy program will learn about all aspects of government contracting, subcontracting and related challenges. The program will put a particular emphasis on national security-related purchasing, which accounts for $300 billion of the total spent on goods and services by the federal government.

The program, for students studying for a Master of Public Management or a Master of Public Policy, will offer courses in leadership, finance, ethics, policy analysis, acquisition management, and federal government contracting and pricing. Students will also have the opportunity to conduct research and participate in acquisition-related activities in the School's Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, which is directed by Gansler. Students will also have access to internships and other valuable professional experiences at public and private organizations in the Washington area.

Said Don Kettl, Dean of the School of Public Policy: "The School's new specialization offers an exciting education curriculum that complements our dynamic acquisition research program. It will provide an unrivaled learning environment for our students, to ensure they will be fully capable of addressing the nations acquisition challenges."