Army acquisition chief wants to increase contracting workforce

By Dan Schere / May 15, 2024 at 2:19 PM

Army acquisition head Doug Bush told Senate appropriators today that the service could use more funding to increase its contracting workforce.

Bush, speaking during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, said the Army’s contracting workforce currently numbers about 9,000. The workforce had to “double their workload” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which was followed immediately by the start of Ukraine’s war with Russia, he noted.

“If I worry about one workforce, it’s the contracting workforce,” he said.

When asked by subcommittee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) whether 9,000 people was optimal, Bush said “some more would be helpful.”

“However, we are in the meantime focused on giving them better technology and tools to be more efficient. So, I think a little help in both realms, efficiency investment and perhaps some more people, would be warranted,” he said.

Tester asked later in the hearing whether the services utilize a “distinct appropriations account to ensure sufficient funding to recruit and retain acquisition personnel,” and Bush said the Army does for training.

“And if it was bigger that would actually be very helpful. And it wouldn’t have to be dramatically bigger. A little bit could go a long way across the services,” he said.

Bush told Inside Defense following the hearing that contracting centers such as Redstone Arsenal, AL and Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, as well as others, are the types of facilities that could use more workers.

Bush said the Army plans to come back to the Senate with a more precise number of how many more workers it needs but added the increase would not be a “dramatic number.”

“I’m not talking doubling it. I’m talking just some more people to make sure that as you have a churn of workforce in and out . . . that we have enough flexibility to make sure all the work gets covered as you have workforce churn,” he said.