Is a push for more Federal Grants certifications sustainable?

The GAO released its report on the Grants Workforce last week and for me there were no surprises.

  • Agencies are still struggling to identify who comprises the grants workforce
  • Some agencies adopted the 1109 job series
  • There’s a drive to a certification…but no consensus on what that should be
  • Adoption of the Financial Assistance Career Roadmap is limited
  • More training is needed

Now you’d think that as someone whose product audience is 50%+ Federal, I’d be jumping up and down for joy. Don’t get me wrong, this report shows a lot of opportunity to fill the gaps to provide the Federal workforce with the grants knowledge they need. My concern is that the drive for certifications in grants, as well as other job series, will not be sustainable for everyone. What if you are an individual whose position requires you to:

  • Oversee large projects
  • Manage support contracts
  • Implement grant programs

And by the way, it’s a cyber security grant program.

If you were to read the recent grants report with the GAO cyber security workforce report, PMIAA implementation guidance, and Contracting Officer’s Representative requirements, you may determine that you need to obtain and/or maintain FOUR certifications. And, you may get the training you need paid for by your employer but not the money to take the test to obtain the certification.

How do you choose which one to get? When? Why? How? What is the best match for your limited training budget? Which path is going to best serve your career?

We need to recognize that certification efforts may push some people into a specialist role, when really, we’d benefit from someone with a broad set of skills and capabilities.

That’s why I am hopeful that we’ll see more adoption of the Financial Assistance Career Roadmap. This competency model recognizes that Federal Grant professionals need to upskill in their knowledge, skills, and abilities in analytics, leadership, and project management. This roadmap, if implemented with flexibility, could facilitate the ability for individuals to follow the model while pursuing the certification, certificate, or degree (which travels with the person, not the position) that fits individual career goals.

By the way, the drive towards cross-functional capabilities is a trend across the government. The executive session discussion at the last AGA PDT centered on the need for people to do more analysis as more basic functions are automated.

Looks like we all need to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of at least one.

Written by:
Erica Preston
Grants & Assistance
Media Type:

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