Expertise on Loan (part 1)

When leaders at NIB learned about the Public-Private Talent Exchange (PPTE) program offered through the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), interest in participating was immediate. The PPTE program offers participants professional development opportunities to expand their functional expertise and acquire the new skills and knowledge critical to innovation. It also strengthens DOD and industry partnerships to help meet national security needs, notes Maggie Sizer, program manager for the Defense Acquisition PPTE Program for the office of Human Capital Initiatives at DOD.

Talent exchanges between the government and the private sector are not new; the PPTE program was modeled after several existing programs, including the Secretary of Defense Executive Fellows program, the U.S. Air Force Education With Industry program, and the U.S. Army’s Training with Industry program.

A new feature is that PPTE provides the opportunity for private sector employees to do exchanges at DOD organizations. PPTE is not a job “swap” program. Private sector companies can participate in PPTE by offering an exchange assignment for a DOD participant, without sending one of their employees to DOD. The program offers flexibility in matching assignments to maximize the benefit for DOD, private sector companies or organizations, and individual participants. The exchange participants are typically mid-career, high-potential employees with demonstrated leadership potential. After their assignments — which are typically six months — end, DOD participants return to their previous positions and private sector participants to their company or organization.Opportunity Magazine Winter 2021 A new feature is that PPTE provides the opportunity for private sector employees to do exchanges at DOD organizations. PPTE is not a job “swap” program. Private sector companies can participate in PPTE by offering an exchange assignment for a DOD participant, without sending one of their employees to DOD. The program offers flexibility in matching assignments to maximize the benefit for DOD, private sector companies or organizations, and individual participants. The exchange participants are typically mid-career, high-potential employees with demonstrated leadership potential. After their assignments — which are typically six months — end, DOD participants return to their previous positions and private sector participants to their company or organization.

Authorized by Congress in 2017, the Human Capital Initiatives team of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment in 2019 piloted the inaugural program, which had 13 participants — six from DOD and seven from the private sector. Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive, according to Sizer. Participants find working onsite at the exchange organization a transformational experience, she says, and “return as ambassadors for the program.”

In 2020, there was a significant increase in the number of DOD employees seeking to participate in the program. “We had more requests from DOD employees than available private sector exchange assignments,” says Sizer. “There is a need for more private-sector participation.”

NIB — which had been looking to add a new services line of business that would offer high-skilled, upwardly mobile jobs for people who are blind or vision impaired — was happy to become one of the needed private-sector participants. The PPTE program, seemed a perfect opportunity to dedicate resources to make the service line of business happen.

After drafting and submitting exchange experience job descriptions to DOD, NIB reviewed resumes of DOD employees who wanted to participate in the program, and returned a list of people it was interested in.

Rob Clemens – who served in the Marine Corps and now fills a civilian role at Marine Corps Systems Command as a senior program analyst – and Kariym Smith – a program analyst for Naval Sea Systems Command – said yes.

Next week: Learn about Clemens and Smith’s experiences at NIB.

Click here to learn more about the DOD Public-Private Talent Exchange.