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Critical Thinking for Acquisition Professionals

Acquisition professionals program managers, project officers, contracting officers, contract specialists, contracting officer representatives, and their contractor counterparts must make many decisions and plans. They must analyze often complex issues, considering many factors and weighing arguments from many sides. So the ability to think critically is an essential professional skill.

Increasingly, senior acquisition officials, contractors, industry associations, and others have called for more and better critical thinking by the Acquisition Workforce. At The FAR Bootcamp® we demand critical thinking and argumentation by our students in a variety of problem solving scenarios. Based on the observations that we have made over the course of more than 15 years of teaching, we decided to launch a course devoted to critical thinking that is designed especially for those who work in Government acquisition.

Critical thinking is the mental process of evaluating, questioning, and judging your own thinking and the thinking of others based on established principles of sound reasoning. Critical thinking entails being conscious of, inquisitive about, and judgmental toward assertions and arguments—the ones that we plan to make, the ones that we have made, and the ones that others have made. It entails reading closely and listening attentively; recognizing assertions and arguments; seeking definitions; asking pertinent questions of ourselves and others; recognizing and eliminating ambiguity and vagueness; and being on the lookout for unsupported and false premises, logical fallacies, inconsistencies, and conclusions that do not follow from the premises on which they are assertedly based. The goal is to learn the truth about beliefs and assertions, if possible.

In Critical Thinking for Acquisition Professionals students will learn the fundamentals of critical thinking and put them into practice through analysis and discussion of acquisition related case studies. Topics include:

  • Understanding rationality
  • Reasoning deductively
  • Framing issues and problems
  • Reading closely and listening attentively
  • Identifying assertions
  • Asking, anticipating, and answering questions
  • Identifying, defining, and seeking definitions of key words and terms
  • Eliminating ambiguity and vagueness
  • Constructing, recognizing, analyzing, and evaluating "arguments"
  • Recognizing and validating assertions of "fact"
  • Weighing and evaluating "evidence"
  • Recognizing valid ("sound") and invalid ("unsound") arguments
  • Spotting fallacies and inconsistencies
  • Explaining and justifying proposals, plans, decisions, and actions

Critical Thinking for Acquisition Professionals is designed for all who are or will be actively engaged in acquisition policy making, and contract planning, formation, and administration.

Prerequisites: The course is designed for those who have successfully completed either The FAR Bootcamp®, the Defense Acquisition University's CON 90, "Federal Acquisition Regulation Fundamentals," or the Federal Acquisition Institute's CON 120, "Mission-Focused Contracting." Ideally, applicants will have achieved at least a DAWIA/FAC-C Level I certification or its equivalent.

The course is three days, and course hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.