DLA Energy begins new PaCE Program session

By Tanekwa Bournes, DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Ten trainees began the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Pathways to Career Excellence Program in a kick-off orientation session in the McNamara Headquarters Complex at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Sept. 19.

The two-year PaCE program allows trainees to come on board as GS-7s and learn how to be contract specialists. This round of trainees includes individuals who were part of the DLA Pathways Intern Program as well as employees who were already on-board with the organization.

“After successful completion of the first year in the program, the individual is promoted to the GS-9 level and promoted to GS-11 after successful completion of the entire PaCE program,” said DLA Energy Career Management Specialist Mary Sandman. “Our positions are target GS-12 positions, however the promotion to that level is not based on the program but rather the successfulness of the individual and is up to their supervisor.”

This year’s group of program participants were hired using the Direct Hire Authority included in The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. The DHA enables DLA Energy to recruit and appoint talented, recent graduates into the government workforce. DLA Energy was granted authority in May 2017 and brought the new hires on board before Sept. 10. 

Over the course of the program, participants receive on-the-job, classroom and web-based training at their duty locations and other locations.

“Upon completion of the program, graduates are fortunate to achieve Defense Acquisition University Contracting Level I and II certifications which is required by Congress under the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act for all GS-1102 series personnel in the federal government,” said Marcarthur Alexandre II, DLA Energy Direct Delivery Fuels contract specialist and recent PaCE program graduate. 

To qualify for a PaCE position, an applicant must be a graduate from a two or four-year college or university, graduate or professional school, maintained at least a 2.95 grade point average and have 24 hours of business credits.

“When I was an intern at the State Department, my supervisor told me about the PaCE program, and I went to the USAJobs website and applied for it,” said DLA Energy Contract Specialist Trainee Massoud Ahmadi and PaCE participant.

Successful completion of the PaCE program takes someone who is driven, willing to step back and think outside the box, and understands that no matter what their contracting (or other career field) experience is, they have to be willing to learn the business process at DLA Energy, Sandman explained. 

“Prior to enrolling in this program, I was a contract specialist at the Department of Interior after completing my Pathways internship with them,” said DLA Energy Contract Specialist Trainee Erika Zwiren and PaCE participant. “Two of my former co-workers told me they began their federal civilian careers at DLA Energy.”

Selections for the PaCE program are made twice a year. Anticipated hiring cycles begin in March and September each year, Sandman said.

“Overall, the goal of the program is to train our next level of leaders,” she said. “We need a trained workforce that can continue the mission and support the warfighters.”

For more information about the PaCE program visit www.dla.mil/Careers/Programs/Pacepgm.aspx as well as www.dla.mil/Careers/Programs/Internships.aspx.