CON 090 “Boot Camp” boosts new acquisition pros’ knowledge, confidence

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Employees entering the acquisition workforce at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support can now better prepare for the rigors of training required to become certified in their field through the “CON 090 Boot Camp.”

With a focus on employee development, Industrial Hardware division chief Joanne Anello’s Boot Camp concept is aiding new hires to overcome the pressures of the 30-day resident Defense Acquisition University “Federal Acquisition Regulation Fundamentals” course.

“I saw the need for a prep course,” Anello said. “I wanted to try to take away as much stress as I could … making sure the employees know what to expect and are well prepared prior to taking the course.”

According to the DAU course description, CON 090 is a “total immersion … research intensive” introduction to the FAR and Defense FAR Supplement during which students learn how to use more than 2,000 pages of contracting guidance to perform their jobs.

“Coming from private sector into the government, [CON 090] was like learning how to speak a foreign language … it was very difficult,” Industrial Hardware contract specialist and former CON 090 Boot Camp student Angela Harris-Norton said. “But once I got the hang of it through [the boot camp], it was a lot better.”

While there are many classes required to become certified in the contracting field, CON 090 is one of the first. And failure is not an option, according to DAU requirements.

“If students don’t pass, they receive a ‘Last Chance Agreement,’” Anello said. “It gives them one more chance to take the class. And if they do not pass the second time, then their employment is terminated … and that puts tremendous pressure on the employees.”

To contend with that, Anello developed a curriculum focused on academic integrity, breaking down the FAR and DFARS into digestible sections and one-on-one sessions with students waiting for their class to start. The intent is to put them at ease with what to expect.

To maintain the course’s effectiveness, Anello worked with a team of acquisition subject matter experts, including Ryan Cunningham, Rebecca Gormley, Craig Singleton and Nicholas Rossi to create a curriculum that enhances the existing prep work and stresses academic integrity.

According to Anello, none of the boot camp material comes from the DAU CON 090 course or pre-course curricula. It is also distinct from the CON 090 prep that the Pathways to Career Excellence Center runs.

In addition to preparing employees for the course, the boot camp is a reminder that leadership is looking out for the workforce, Harris-Norton said. 

“It shows that [supervisors] actually do care if I am going to make it through this course or not,” she said. “It gives me more confidence in management that they’re going to take this time and make sure I have the tools that I need so I don’t fail. That says a lot.”

For more information on CON 090 Boot Camp, employees may contact Joanne Anello.