Acquisition & Assistance Specialist

An opportunity is available for a suitably qualified and experienced Acquisition & Assistance Specialist in Malawi.

The incumbent is responsible for representing the Contracting Officer (CO) on a day-to-day basis in providing and advising on all acquisition and assistance matters to USAID/Malawi to ensure successful obtainment of the Mission’s strategic objectives. The incumbent’s functions involve (a) performing low to high value program procurements (with the predominance being medium complexity in nature); (b) resolving complex procurement issues; (c) advising on the most advantageous and appropriate method of procurement and procurement instruments; (d) disseminating procurement policy changes; (e) advising the Mission, partners and host country officials on procurement policy and providing ad hoc training as needed; (g) participating in technical office’s discussions during the development stages of new activities; and (h) advising technical offices, Strategic Objective Teams (SOTs) and other support staff on the phases of procurements. These matters include complex full and open competitive procurements with estimated values in some cases of $20 million and more and that can take six months or more to complete negotiations, cost analysis, final selection and award.

MAJOR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

Mission Acquisition Plan Formulation (20% of time)

  • Collaborates with the Program Development and Analysis Office (PDA) and the Strategic Objective Teams (SOTs) in the development of Acquisition and Assistance schedules – providing advice/recommendations to facilitate this process.
  • Reviews procurement plans drafted by technical office teams and ensures development of realistic procurement schedules.
  • Advises supported Technical Offices and/or Strategic Objective Teams (SOTs) and Mission Support Offices of the advantages and disadvantages of using various procurement mechanisms.
  • Provides advice and recommendations to supported SOTs and Mission Support Offices on development of Statements of Work (SOWs).
  • Reviews SOWs drafted by Mission staff, Technical Offices and supported offices for completeness and provides advice to correct inadequacies when SOWs are incomplete. Reviews evaluation criteria ensuring that SOWs are non-restrictive.
  • Provides advice and recommendations to SOTs, Technical and/or Support Offices on authorities for Justifications for Other Than Full and Open Competition and Waivers, as appropriate – researching the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), AID Acquisition Regulation (AIDAR), Automated Directives System (ADS), and other regulations, as necessary.
  • Reviews Justifications for Other Than Full and Open Competition and Waivers drafted by appropriate Mission staff to ensure that they fully address issues and provide adequate justification for approval.
  • Refers matters of a very high technical and policy nature to the CO.
  • Reviews requests for acquisition of complex commodities/services for the supported SOs and Mission Support Offices researching the USAID contracting/assistance policies, regulations and practices in order to provide the appropriate authorities.
  • Reviews final documentation to ensure they fully address the issues and provide adequate justification for approval.
  • Drafts pre-solicitation and sources-sought notices. Develops solicitation packages, recommending changes to specifications or terms to the CO as required.
  • Whenever possible, resolves critical contracting and assistance issues with supported SOT and Mission Support Offices – referring those of high technical and policy nature to the CO for his/her action.
  • Recommends alternative and preferred types of contracts, grants or cooperative agreements to best achieve strategic objective or Mission Support Office objectives.
  • Reviews proposed Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Requests for Assistance (RFAs), and Invitation for Bids (IFBs) to ensure they are in accordance with the FAR, AIDAR and other regulations, incorporating special conditions and requirements as necessary.
  • Submits them to the Contracting Officer (CO) for review and ensures transmission for publication by USAID/Washington or on the internet.

Contract and Grant Negotiation (40% of time)

  • Prepares contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements for the supported SOTs (as/when required) and the Office of the Director in compliance with U.S. Government (and Malawi Government, where applicable) assistance and acquisition regulations – ensuring that all applicable FAR and AIDAR, clauses and provisions are incorporated.
  • Recommends any necessary changes or additions to ensure proper incentives and reasonable prices.
  • Organizes pre- and post-proposal conferences and collects and compiles data for conferences and issues to offerors.
  • Monitors proceedings to ensure integrity of the procurement process and reviews inquiries on solicitations to determine if questions require amendment to solicitation documents.
  • Responds to comments from supported SOTs, Mission Technical and Support Offices initiating the procurement, and guidance provided by the CO.
  • Responds in writing to offerors’ queries/questions in the appropriate and/or required Agency format.
  • Performs detailed cost and price analyses of proposals received as a result of solicitations to determine responsiveness and reasonableness.
  • Ensures cost and price analysis documentation is available for review and subsequently placed in the appropriate contract file(s).
  • Upon request, coordinates establishment of technical evaluation committees; oversees conduct of the evaluation process, serving as liaison between the Committee and the Contracting Officer.
  • Obtains required documentation/certifications from USAID Host Country Committee members.
  • Reviews past awards, initiates pre-award surveys and analyzes financial statements, as well as company and management policies.
  • Analyzes cost proposals, and in collaboration with the Office of Financial Management (OFM), determines provisional and/or ceiling indirect rates for local firms prior to award of contracts.
  • Ensures funds availability in GLAAS actions and obtains funds availability certification from OFM for procurement instruments outside GLAAS and, if required, the Regional Legal Advisor’s (RLA’s) clearance prior to submitting to the contractor/recipient and CO their signatures, as appropriate.

Contract and Grant Administration (40% of time)

  • Fully responsible for the administration of acquisition and assistance instruments.
  • This includes site visits, change orders, drafting correspondence, initiating contractor performance evaluations, monitoring of reporting requirements, advising CORs/AORs and contractors on their administration responsibilities, etc.
  • In addition, the Acquisition Specialist will advise the CO and prepare appropriate documentation on any issues that may arise in the course of performance.
  • This includes: changes, disputes, work stoppages, problems with Government furnished property or materials, changes in scope or direction, replacement of key personnel, failure to make acceptable progress or meet any required cost share, default, payment problems, or unacceptable performance/ deliveries.
  • Work jointly with the CO in implementing all new USAID procurement initiatives at the Mission, provide informal and formal training to the Mission on revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), AID Acquisition Regulations (AIDAR), Automated Directives System (ADS), and Acquisition and Assistance Policy Directives (AAPDs), and organize efforts to provide notice to USAID/Malawi partners.
  • Fully responsible to ensure USAID/Malawi is following USAID guidance to use the Global Acquisition and Assistance System (GLAAS), a web-based software program that standardizes and automates USAID’s management of Acquisition and Assistance instruments. Ensures required users are properly certified.
  • Continuously stay abreast of GLAAS updates and ensures that USAID/Malawi is properly informed.
  • Fully competent in the day-to-day use of GLAAS.
  • Work jointly with the CO to ensure that procurement actions for USAID/Malawi are tracked, contract close-outs are performed within prescribed time limitations, property reports are received and SO Team requests for information are responded to in a prompt manner.
  • Primary responsibility for internal controls rest with the Acquisition Specialist.
  • In addition, the Acquisition Specialist will be responsible for the correspondence received by the CO.
  • He/She will review and evaluate all correspondence for necessary action, and, if necessary, draft appropriate response for the CO signature.  Through prior experience, knowledge and necessary research, it is expected that the Acquisition Specialist will have the capability to respond to all but the most complex issues, without prior consultation with the CO.
  • He/she will be responsible for appropriate/required contract file(s) content to include but not limited to Memorandums of Negotiation, Class Justifications, and other relevant contract documentation.
  • Ensure that contractors submit required subcontracting plans, inventory reports, quarterly financial reports, responses to contractor performance reports, follow extension needs, due dates for award fees, follow funding needs, and ensure new requirements/clauses are incorporated in present contracts/grants.
  • Disseminate performance assessment reporting procedures (CPARS) to Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs) and follow-up to ensure that reports are completed with input of contractors, CO and CORs.
  • In collaboration with OFM, represent OAA in USAID/Malawi limited financial reviews of mission partners.

POSITION ELEMENTS:

Supervision Received:

  • The incumbent is under the general day-to-day management of the USAID/Malawi Senior Acquisition and Assistance Specialist. Technical guidance and supervision will be provided by the Contracting Officer and also by his/her designee as appropriate.

Supervision Exercised:

  • While the CO will provide the formal supervision of the acquisition specialist, the Senior Acquisition and Assistance Specialist will be a principal provider of mentoring, training, guidance, and day-to-day oversight of the acquisition specialist.

Available Guidelines:

  • The incumbent is required to master a large body of regulatory and policy information.
  • The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Agency for International Development Acquisition Regulation (AIDAR), the Automated Directives System (ADS), Acquisition and Assistance Policy Directives (AAPDs), General Notices and other applicable Agency regulations are available.
  • The incumbent is also provided guidance/instructions by the Contracting Officer, Regional Legal Advisor and the USAID/Washington-based Office of Acquisition and Assistance (OAA).

Exercise of Judgment:

  • Excellent (balanced) judgment and confidentiality are critical to the successful performance of the job.
  • Since a poor decision or ill-advised comment can lead to a protest that can seriously delay implementation of an important development project in today’s acquisition environment, judgment exercised and advice given directly impacts the credibility of the Mission.
  • At this level, the incumbent is expected to demonstrate considerable expertise in the various steps of the procurement process, especially full and open competition.

Authority to Make Commitments:

  • The authority to make commitments which bind the U.S. Government is vested with the USDH Contracting Officer; USDH Executive Officer; USDH Mission Director, or persons acting in these capacities.
  • The incumbent will have no independent authority to commit U.S. Government (USG) Mission funds on behalf of the U.S. Government, USAID/Malawi or the Office of Acquisition and Assistance (OAA).
  • Although the incumbent does not have signature authority, the incumbent may be granted authority (by the CO) to negotiate and commit the U.S. Government to business positions, including cost, price, as well as technical matters such as level of effort, tasks and scheduling.
  • USDH personnel with contracting authority rely on the incumbent’s recommendations on the technical, financial and administrative matters of procurements.

Nature, Level, and Purpose of Contacts:

  • To effectively function and succeed in this position, the incumbent will be required to establish and maintain solid, cohesive and effective working relationships with all categories of USAID/Malawi personnel.
  • The Acquisition Specialist (Grade 11) will establish and maintain contacts with officials in both the public and private sector regarding USG procurement regulations (FAR, AIDAR, ADS).
  • The incumbent will interact and communicate on a regular basis with the Contracting Officer, Mission Director, Senior Mission Management staff, Strategic Objective Team leaders and members (SOT), and Mission Activity Managers.
  • In addition, the incumbent will be required to maintain outside/external contacts in support of the Malawi program’s overall strategic objectives and goals to include but not limited to: (1) Chiefs of Party for grantees and contractors; (2) appropriate institutional contractor and grantee personnel and; (3) host country officials.
  • The purpose of these contacts will be to provide accurate procurement advice.
  • At the Grade 11 level, the incumbent will have personal contacts with the all levels of staff in USAID, the host government, participating public or private organizations, and suppliers in the U.S. and the Malawi business community.

Time Required to Perform Full Range of Duties after Entry into the Position:

  • Eighteen months to two (2) years.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS:

Education:

  • A university degree is required in the field of Business Management, Business Administration, Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Law, International Trade, Industrial Management, or a related subject. An advanced degree in any of the same fields is preferred.

Prior Work Experience: 

  • A minimum of five (5) years of progressively responsible experience in the field of procurement/acquisition and assistance and management is required.
  • At least three (3) years prior experience with a U.S. government Agency and/or other international organization(s) is preferred.
  • Prior experience and knowledge of U.S. Government contracting regulations and procedures is desirable.

Post Entry Training:

  • Post-entry training in U.S Government contracting rules and procedures, in accordance with the Agency’s implementation of the required Federal Acquisition Certification-Contracting (FAC-C) will be provided.

Language Proficiency:   

  • Level IV, (fluent), strong written and oral proficiency in English, is required.
  • The incumbent must also be native (Level IV) in Chichewa.

Job Knowledge:

  • Considerable practical and theoretical understanding of procurement and fundamentals of contract law is required.
  • Good knowledge of international as well as local business practices and market pricing is also required.
  • A thorough knowledge of all of the following areas is required at the full performance level:
    • Federal acquisition/assistance legislation, regulations, and procedures;
    • U.S. Federal Specifications and Standards;
    • U.S. and host-country acquisition, contracting and business procedures;
    • U.S. and local market conditions to include but not limited to the Malawi market conditions, pricing structures, and the capabilities of local vendors for specialized services and commodities;
    • U.S. Government acquisition and assistance practices; (6) USAID Automated Directives System (ADS);
    • The United States Agency for International Development’s Acquisition Regulation (AIDAR); and
    • The USG’s Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). In addition, good knowledge of basic and advanced Malawi and international procurement rules and principles are required.

Skills and Abilities:

  • Strong analytical skills are required to perform cost/price analyses in analyzing business proposals and other procurement related documents.
  • Ability to speak authoritatively on U.S. Government contracting regulations and to negotiate and represent the Government’s best interests to both U.S. and local firms/individuals is required.
  • Excellent negotiation skills are vital to be able to orchestrate “win-win” settlements between disparate parties.
  • The ability to work independently with minimal oversight is also required.
  • Excellent organizational skills are required to perform work on many actions at the same time – keeping them moving forward to completion even though each is at a different life-cycle stage.
  • The ability to proficiently use the ADS and agency policy bulletins in the research of procurement issues that are not particularly straightforward or unusual in nature and recommend appropriate solutions is required.
  • The ability to evaluate contractor performance against contractual requirements is required.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are required for the level and nature of interaction with teams/technical offices, support offices and especially vendors/contractors and recipients.
  • The ability to work effectively in a diverse team environment and adapt to the existing work environment is required.
  • A strong focus on “attention to detail” is critical and strong computer skills are critically important and are required in order to use a variety of computer programs (including Microsoft Windows 2010, GLAAS, and CPARS).
  • The ability to work calmly, tactfully and effectively under pressure is essential as is the ability to maintain strict confidentiality and high procurement integrity and ethical standards throughout all phases of USAID/Malawi, Office of Acquisition and Assistance (OAA), acquisition and assistance procurement actions.
Salary: Market Related