The focus of the annual National Professional Development Institute (PDI) is on professional development with more than 20 hours of educational courses and the ability to earn up to 21 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) units, which meet the National Association of State Boards of Accounting standards. That to me has always translated as an educational venue vice a conference. This past year at PDI, I heard concern over the decreasing attendance at the National PDI. I am convinced that this reduced attendance is based on the determination that this the National PDI cannot claim the exemptions of the DOD Conference Guidance, Vs 4.0, dated 26 June 2016, IV. Determination of a Conference, because they do not meet the Exemptions criteria of para 4. I would ask ASMC to review carefully 4.e., and determine whether there is a way to align the National PDI to Formal Classroom Training. In fact, according to the FM14 that SOFM had to staff for approval for SOCOM to attend the 2019 PDI, reference was made to the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) approving the 2019 ASMC PDI and granting a waiver for this conference to proceed in a letter dated 4 January 2019. But I believe that this waiver still limits the total spent for an entire organization to no more than an aggregate $500K, even though SOFM does not fund the event themselves, but rather each organization uses their individual budget to fund their personnel. To stay under that criteria, SOCOM had to limit the number of attendees from each of their components, TSOCs and the HQ to 192 attendees, broken out as follows:
1) HQ (includes JSOU, J-Dirs, and SOFM): 45
2) USASOC: 60
3) WARCOM: 19
4) AFSOC: 24
5) SOF AT&L (SOCOM Acquisition): 9
6) JSOC: 10
7) MARSOC: 5
8) Seven TSOCs (20)
This limited quota, in fact, forces consideration only of those in the higher echelon of their organization or limit them to a preferred group of people that they interface with more often and even necessarily leave out those who are ASMC members, and CDFM-A members who definitely benefit from attendance at the annual National PDI.
I have no way to effect this at my level as a newly appointed USSCOM SOF Education Program Analyst at the Branch level of the J3 Directorate. Therefore, I recommend that ASMC advocate for re-consideration of the annual National PDI as a training / educational event vice a conference by reviewing the attached DOD Conference Guidance and finding a loophole that will pass muster with such high level leadership as the USD(C). Maybe the best way to re-address this issue is to refer to the current effort to address a paradigm where education may be viewed as a necessary evil that interrupts the real work of an individual and takes away valuable personnel at inconvenient times. USSOCOM is taking action to change this paradigm and implement programs throughout the USSOCOM enterprise to create an environment of continuous learning where personnel view gaining knowledge as an integral part of a member's job and embraced by all. Perhaps the National PDI could be levied as one of those programs that gives the most bang for the buck.
Kat White (CDFM-A)
Program Analyst, SOF Language/Education Branch
U.S. Special Operations Command, J3-T&E
I plan on attending the PDI with or without my employer's support. I would like to advance my career and the PDI offers an excellent opportunity to do so.
USSOCOM SOFM provides approvals for slots for each attendee in keeping with the annual USD(C) waiver and the DOD Conference Guidance, Vs 4.0, 26 Jun 2016.The moment of reckoning comes with submittal of the SF182 for approval by senior leadership and/or the DTS voucher for payment of the travel expenses. At least in the case of USSOCOM, non-compliance with this regulatory guidance is unethical. I am sure that if one wants to pay out of pocket for PDI, there would be no requirement to be subject to regulatory guidance. As codified in the introductory remarks in the DOD Conference Guidance, Vs 4.0, this update:"balances the continuing requirement to exercise responsible stewardship of taxpayer money with the ability of commanders/directors to manage professional development" and is considered to be "substantial progress in reviewing and approving conferences consistent with guidance codified in OMB Memo, Promoting Efficient Spending to Support Agency Operations, 11 May 2012, and Public Law 113-6, Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013,"My goal in sending this post is: 1) to make ASMC and ASMC members aware of these regulatory limitations that are affecting attendance to the point of courses having available seating, and 2) to attempt to remedy the situation at the root of the problem; by removing all references to "conferences" as they apply to PDI, and continue to elevate this issue until high-level regulators of PDI grasp the educational purpose of this professional development venue.I think the goal is doable if we have a united front.