CBP Contract Specialist
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency cannot effectively carry out its job of keeping the country safe from terrorists and their weapons of mass destruction if they don’t have the necessary furniture, telecommunications and surveillance equipment, and ammunition. Ensuring that these needs are met and the service and maintenance efforts are continuously delivered is a job that falls in the hands of CBP’s Contract Specialists.
Essentially, Contract Specialists solicit, negotiate, administer, close out, and terminate purchase orders and contracts for the various things that the CBP needs in its operations—stuff like the ones we mentioned above. They develop, implement and review contracting plans for pre and post-awards, price/cost analysis and different kinds of procurement activities. Contract Specialists also give technical advice, guidance, and legal interpretation in the various areas of contracting.
If you want to work as a Contract Specialist for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you need to hold a bachelor’s degree (major in any field is acceptable). Without a bachelor’s degree, you need to have at least 24 semester hours in any combination of fields like accounting, business, finance, law, contracts, purchasing, economics, industrial management, marketing, quantitative methods, or organization and management. With your academic background, you should know how to develop procurement plans, quotations requests, solicitations, contract awards, and management of contracts. You should also know how to perform cost analysis, do a comparative analysis of proposals, perform negotiation strategies and cost negotiation, and have knowledge of federal contract laws and regulations.
For those who wish to enter at a higher pay grade, such as at the GS-9 level, one year specialized experience on reviewing requisitions to determine that proper specifications or purchase descriptions are included in solicitation documents; evaluating bids or proposals for compliance with specifications or purchase descriptions and applicable clauses; and coordinating contracting activities with other Government agencies having interrelated requirements is qualifying. For more advanced experience in contracting and developmental assignments, qualifying at the GS-11 is possible. At the higher pay grades, a postgraduate degree (e.g. masters) is necessary.
Having related professional certifications can also enhance your chances of getting hired. One of these is the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) which enables you to specialize in one of the following fields: Business, Cost Estimations, and Financial Management; Auditing; Contracting; Facilities Engineering; Information Technology; Industrial/Contract Property Management; Life Cycle Logistics; Program Management; Purchasing; Production, Quality and Manufacturing; Program Systems Engineering; Science and Technology Manager; Systems Engineering; and Test and Evaluation. The DAWIA can be availed of if you qualify at the Basic or Entry, Intermediate or Journeyman, or Advanced or Senior Levels.
Another certification which you can obtain by completing a course in the Department of Defense Acquisition is the Federal Acquisition Certification-Contracting (FAC-C). To maintain this certification, you need to attend ongoing training and undergo a review every two years.
The CBP posts vacancies for Contract Specialists in the USAJOBS (www.usajobs.gov) website. Applications are also accepted through this online portal. You need to create an account to be able to save your resume and fill out the online application form. Be sure to read the entire announcement, especially the how to apply section of the announcement.