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by Douglas Woods

A new professional development program has been developed over the past 18 months by the federal government Materiel and Supply Management Steering Committee (MSMSC), an interdepartmental body comprised of representatives from 20 federal departments, agencies and bargaining agents. The program, regarded as one of the key pillars of the government's procurement reform initiative, is being launched to enhance the skills, professionalism and value-added contribution of procurement, materiel and supply managers across government in delivering programs and services to Canadians.

Recently, MSMSC members have been working with the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) on developing a formal submission to Treasury Board ministers. The submission, expected to go forward in the coming months, seeks approval of the implementation strategy for the new professional development program, including the creation of a small program office at TBS to undertake the task of implementing the new program on a government-wide basis.

As proposed, the new program has two key components: a certification element and a seminar series. The certification element involves the completion of selected course credits leading to the granting of a recognized professional designation upon successful completion. It is expected that the certification element will be delivered by one or more of the existing professional designation granting bodies in the field of procurement, materiel and supply management. The MSMSC currently has a selection process underway to assess the compliance of interested designation granting bodies and their programs against a defined set of selection criteria.

As well, within its seminar series the MSMSC oversaw the development of 14 new training seminars for the benefit of the community. These new seminars, available across Canada, cover a range of topics of interest to members of the community. They have been extremely well received, many having been sold out well in advance.

Once approval for implementation is granted, individual departments and agencies need to determine the middle manager-level procurement, materiel and supply management positions within their organization that require certification. These positions can be within any occupational group (e.g. PG, AS, ENG, etc.) and at any level, as long as the position is at or above the middle manager level. Later, Statements of Qualification for these positions will be modified to include the newly enhanced educational requirement. The target date for full implementation of the new program is April 1, 2004, although it is expected that program registration and training will likely commence within the year.

One of the most common questions from employees concerning this initiative relates to how the new program will affect them and their jobs. According to the chair of the MSMSC, the RCMP's Fred Dupuis, one of the fundamental components of the new program involves mandatory "grandparenting" and acquired rights.

"The new program is not about forcing a heavy re-training burden on people who are already at or above middle manager level," says Dupuis. "While we would encourage as many people as possible to participate in the new program, we are not about to start asking people who have been on the job for 20 years to immediately go out and complete several new courses in order to keep their jobs. This program is about the future and our ability to enhance the overall skills and contribution level of our employees as we move forward."

Numerous presentations and information sessions concerning the new professional development program have taken place during the past several months, both for individual departments as well as at the MMI National and Regional Workshops held across Canada. In addition, a communications and awareness initiative will get underway in the coming months to make information concerning the new program more broadly available to employees.

Individuals wishing to learn more about the new professional development program are encouraged to contact 
MSMSC Chair, Fred Dupuis (613-993-3178, fred.dupuis@rcmp-grc.gc.ca ) or 
vice chair Doug Woods (613-992-9675, douglas.woods@dfait-maeci.gc.ca ) for additional information.

Douglas Woods is vice chair of the Materiel and Supply Management Steering Committee and director of Headquarters Administration Services, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He is a long-standing member of the federal materiel and supply community.

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