Certification FAQs

Certification

Background

What is the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) Certification Program?
10 U.S.C. Section 384 requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish a Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP) which manages the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) certification program. The SCWDP purpose is to ensure a certified, professional DoD SC workforce. The Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) administers the SCW Certification Program which includes mandatory training, SC experience, and continuous learning.

Why was the SCW Certification Program established?
A certified, professional SC workforce is critical to the United States National Defense Strategy. The Department of Defense (DoD) established the SCW Certification Program in response to The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 enacted 10 U.S.C. Section 384, "Department of Defense Security Cooperation Workforce Development." Section 384 requires the establishment of the DoD Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP) and identifies professional certification as a mandatory element of the program.

Certification Program Stand Down

What will happen to transcript records of completed courses taken towards security cooperation certification?
There is no intent to modify the process currently in place to maintain student records.

Can Key billet designations be added/deleted during the pause?
Positions can be added/deleted during the pause but the nomination process to the Defense Security Cooperation Program Director for Key billet approval is on pause with the Program stand down and review.

Will the Defense Security Cooperation University certification center continue to display security cooperation workforce members eligible for security cooperation workforce Certification?
Yes. The certification center will be active until the Program fully transitions to Cornerstone OnDemand.

Can Component Certification Authorities continue to award security cooperation workforce Certification for eligible security cooperation workforce members?
Yes.

Why is the certification center no longer working?
The certification center is currently working.

Where are the program brochures?
The program brochures are available pending future Program decisions.

I am almost done with my training requirements—what does this pause mean to me?

The stand down does not affect training requirements assigned by an individual’s chain of command or supervision.

Under the stand down there are no training requirements relative to either the security cooperation workforce development program or the security cooperation workforce certification program.

Once the Program emerges from the stand down period members of the security cooperation workforce will pursue the announced Programmatic certification requirements.

Will the pause affect my experience time requirements?
All aspects of the program are under review during the pause. It is uncertain how the experience time requirements will be determined once the Program emerges from the stand down.

If Certification is paused why are the courses still available to take?

The security cooperation workforce development program and the Defense Security Cooperation University - School of Security Cooperation Studies are independent activities within the Defense Security Cooperation University. Educational requirements of the security cooperation workforce development program are partially met by the School of Security Cooperation Studies.

Logically, the School of Security Cooperation Studies offers some courses that are not applicable to the security cooperation workforce development program, while these courses may have value to individuals not associated with the security cooperation workforce development program.

It seems only reasonable to continue to offer courses even though these courses may not offer credit toward eventual security cooperation workforce development program requirements.

Should I continue to take current certification courses?
This is an individual decision best made in consultation with the employee’s supervisor. The Defense Security Cooperation University continues to offer current courses in Cornerstone OnDemand.

Can components add or delete new or obsolete position/s in the security cooperation workforce database during the pause?
Yes.

What happens to security cooperation workforce members currently in the security cooperation certification Program?
The security cooperation workforce development program includes all members of the security cooperation workforce defined by 10 USC Chapter 16 §384, (h) SECURITY COOPERATION WORKFORCE DEFINED.

  • Members of the security cooperation workforce who completed courses responsive to the Department of Defense Instruction 5132.15 certification prior to the announcement of the stand down will remain certified but may be required to take new courses under a continuing education and individual development plan process developed during the stand down period.
  • Members of the security cooperation workforce who did not complete all requirements to achieve a Department of Defense Instruction 5132.15 defined certification prior to the announcement of the stand down can still achieve certification.

Will security cooperation workforce database be available for reports during the pause?
Yes, however the security cooperation workforce database, as an automated information system and tool, is neither projected for funding nor resourced to function as an automated information system and may experience technical and performance issues prior to the transition to Cornerstone onDemand.

I have an upcoming certification training deadline—am I still required to meet the Department of Defense Instruction certification timelines in accordance with the Department of Defense Instruction and my conditions of employments?

No and it depends. Certification timelines associated with the referenced Department of Defense Instruction are suspended pending Program reemergence from the stand down.

Best positioned to address all questions associated with conditions of employment is the servicing human resources team, however, if an employee is subject to a condition of employment that is not achievable due to no fault of the employee, it is unlikely that the condition of employment is enforceable until the condition of employment becomes achievable.

Should components continue to issue certification requirements as a condition of employment during the pause?
This is a component decision. While the Program is in a stand down posture and the certification requirements are paused, it is highly likely that achieving certification will continue to be a requirement of the Program. It may be easiest to document conditions of employment requirements now, rather than waiting to establish this requirement in the future and be required to edit an extant position description.

Will I have the opportunity to contribute to the efforts undertaken during the stand down period?
Yes. The intent, after the security cooperation workforce development program management group meeting, is to form teams around the major sub-efforts scheduled for review during the program stand down.

Will legacy credit be given during the stand down?
During the Program stand down, legacy credit will be not be granted.

Should I be pursuing my continuous learning hours for my achieved certification levels?
Continuous learning hours will not be collected during the stand down. If the continuous learning element of the certification program as outlined in Department of Defense Instruction 5132.15 is upheld, extra time will be granted to security cooperation workforce members to achieve the required continuous learning hours.

Will the Defense Security Cooperation University put out a formal memo on the pause? Will DSCA provide recommended talking points so that the entire security cooperation workforce is hearing the same message to the individual security cooperation workforce database member level?
The intent is to provide regular updates regarding the progress of the Program stand down.

How will this impact the position descriptions that require employees to get certified? Will we need to make further position description changes in light of all the work that had already gone into this position description update effort?
While it is difficult to assess the state of each individual position description, if the position descriptions in question were properly crafted, including the “Knowledge Required by the Position”, addition changes would be unlikely.

Should the Services be prepared to re-evaluate security cooperation workforce codes/designations or will existing codes be grandfathered under any new competency based system?
The Program will make every possible effort to leverage existing security cooperation workforce codes/designations.

Will there be Department of Navy representation involved in the security cooperation workforce development program strategic meetings during the pause to help shape any security cooperation workforce development program revisions and Phase 2 requirements?
Department of the Navy security cooperation workforce development program decision makers are invited to all program meetings and have the opportunity to contribute consistent with governing documentation.

Is the Course Completion Deadline clock frozen…to be unfrozen at a later date?
Extant courses remain available via Cornerstone onDemand. Course completion deadlines associated with the security cooperation certification Program are paused after the 24 Oct 2022 stand down message.

Should the security cooperation workforce stand down on completing time-intensive Intermediate level courses since it is unknown whether that training will still be applicable to certification in the future?
During the stand down, all certification requirements are paused.

Will the Military Department Component Certification Authorities and other stakeholders have the opportunity to weigh-in on any proposed changes to the security cooperation workforce development program and Department of Defense Instruction 5132.15?
Ultimately, designated GO/FO/SESs are the voice of the Military Departments, Agencies and Activities. When empowered by the designated GO/FO/SES, CCAs have the opportunity to “weigh-in”.

Will the transition to Cornerstone onDemand occur in conjunction with the restart of the security cooperation workforce development program?
Possibly, although the two are not linked.

Will security cooperation workforce personnel certification deadlines be automatically updated in security cooperation workforce database / Cornerstone onDemand to reflect the 6-9 month pause?
The security cooperation workforce management group will address this question.

Will security cooperation workforce members be eligible for security cooperation workforce certification when they complete required courses at applicable security cooperation workforce certification Levels?
Yes.

If a member of the security cooperation workforce is currently enrolled in a course, can they become certified once the course has been completed?
Yes.

It would appear that a major part of this stand down centers around issues in the transition from the Security Cooperation Workforce database to Cornerstone onDemand. Why does fixing that transition necessitate a "stand down"?
Underpinning the Program stand down are multiple factors, only one of which is the transition to Cornerstone OnDemand.

Has the Office of the Under Secretary for Policy coordinated on this event and it seems that you see no problem with the Hill given this change. Can you confirm?
Correct. The Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency is the Program Manager (10 USC Chapter 16 §384, (d)). The Program Manager has taken all necessary steps to coordinate this stand down with “the Hill”.

What does a pause in certification requirements actually mean? Each employee has received a condition of employment letter with a date to which their completion of course work is tied. That is a hard and fast date. How does it mesh with this stand down?
Best positioned to answer this question is the servicing human resources team who issued the conditions of employment notice.

Should we continue to produce condition of employment letters for new hires and any applicable moves?
Position/billet owners should decide how to insure assigned personnel achieve required training and certification requirements to enable competent and professional performance of duties.

Contact Information

Who should I contact for more information?

If you have questions about registration please contact dsca.dscu.info@mail.mil.

If you have questions about certification please contact dsca.ncr.fo.mbx.scwdd@mail.mil

Who is my Component Certification Authority (CCA)?
Please contact the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) at dsca.dscu.info@mail.mil to find out who serves as your CCA.

How do I find my SCWD-D admin?
Please contact the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) at dsca.ncr.fo.mbx.scwdd@mail.mil to find out who serves as your SCWD-D admin.

Prior Experience

Is any of my previous security cooperation (sc) training or experience transferable?
A limited number of courses that were previously offered by the Defense Institute for Security Cooperation Studies (DISCS) are considered equivalent to the new Certification Program courses. Personnel who completed one or more of those legacy DISCS courses within a specified timeframe will receive credit for the equivalent Certification Program course. This process is automatic and does not need to be requested. The experience “clock” starts when you are entered into your SCW position in the Security Cooperation Workforce Development Database (SCWD-D). As long as you remain in a position with the same AoC at the same or higher certification level required for one consecutive year, you will receive credit for your experience. Members who were entered into the SCWD-D before January 1, 2021, have their experience requirement waived and may be certified as soon as they complete their required certification courses

Is there a "test-out" option for courses?
Some Certification Program courses have a “test-out” option. This option allows experienced Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members registered for those courses to take a pre-test. A member who scores high enough on the pre-test will automatically receive credit for having completed that course without needing to take the course.

Program Elements

What are the program's certification levels and areas of concentration?

There are three standard levels of certification intended for GS-15/O-6 and below. There is an Executive-level certification option for security cooperation (SC) executives (including members of the Senior Executive Service, general officers/flag officers, GS-15/O-6 in key SC positions, and E-9).

  1. Basic-level Certification: General knowledge and understanding of SC
  2. Intermediate-level Certification: Focus is on developing technical knowledge and understanding of one Area of Concentration (AoC) in the context of broader SC
  3. Advanced-level Certification: Focus is on increased technical mastery of one AoC in the context of broader SC
  4. Executive-level Certification: Focus is on a broad understanding of SC and its strategic application to achieve defense and national security objectives
  5. Each SC workforce position will be assigned oe of the following AoCs:

  1. SC Planning, Oversight, & Execution Management
  2. SC Case Life Cycle Management
  3. Security Cooperation Office Operations & Management
  4. SC Execution Support Management
  5. SC Acquisition Management

How does a workforce member know his/her position/billet's certification level, area of concentration, and required courses?
All workforce members should discuss this with their supervisor and visit the Certification Center on the DSCU.mil website to learn their individual certification requirements. Workforce members can learn more about and register for courses on the Course Listing page of the DSCU.mil website.

What are the training completion deadlines?
The following timelines apply for completion of certification levels:

  • Basic-level Certification: One year to complete all required basic-level courses
  • Intermediate-level Certification: One year to complete basic-level courses and 2 years to complete all required intermediate-level courses (3 years total)
  • Advanced-level Certification: 3 years to complete basic- and intermediate-level courses, and 2 years to complete all required advanced-level courses (5 years total)
  • Executive-level Certification: Three years to complete all required executive-level courses

The above timelines begin at the Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) publication date for existing SCW members or the date a new member is assigned to a SCW position.

How do Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members meet certification requirements?

To be eligible for certifcation in the appropriate SC Area of Concentration (AoC) at the appropriate certifcation level, a SCW member must:

  1. Complete all required training through the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) or its designated affiliates
  2. Obtain one year of experience at the required level and SC AoC for their position
  3. Be in good standing with the program

SCW members must maintain good standing in the Certification Program. SCW members who complete required courses by the course completion timeline and meet the continuous learning requirement are in good standing with the program. Once obtained, the SCW member must maintain it by meeting continuous learning requirements and thus remain in good standing.

SCW members do not need to request to be certified. Once eligible, the status is automatically updated, and their Component Certification Authority will see that they are eligible for certification in the Certification Center.

What are the Continous Learning requirements?

Continuous learning events must be focused on security cooperation (SC)-related topics for the hours to count toward the requirement. Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members should submit their proposed activities to their supervisor for approval. A list of appropriate topics is maintained on the Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) website. Completion of certification courses counts toward the requirement.

Basic-level: 20 hours of SC-related developmental opportunities every 2 years, including completion of an annual SC update course offered by DSCU. Intermediate- and advanced-level: 20 hours of SC-related developmental opportunities every 2 years, including completion of an annual SC update course offered by DSCU. At least 12 of the 20 hours must be focused on maintaining currency in an Area of Concentration. Executive-level: 20 hours of SC-related developmental opportunities every 2 years, including completion of an annual SC update course offered by DSCU.

Can certification expire?
Certification does not expire once achieved as long as the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) member remains in an SCW position and maintains good standing with the Certification Program by completing all continuous learning requirements.

What happens if a person leaves the Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW)?
Former members of the SCW are not required to maintain certification. However, those who were certified and in good standing with the program may continue to complete continuous learning requirements if they wish. A record of training completed for certification is maintained for all former members of the SCW. If the former member returns to the SCW, they will retain credit for courses previously completed.

What happens if a Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) member fails to achieve certficication or maintain good standing?
If an SCW member does not complete their certification requirements within the required deadlines or if they do not satisfy the continuous learning requirements after certification, the member will not be in good standing with the program and may be subject to adverse personnel action by their Department of Defense (DoD) Components. Certification is a condition of employment for civilians and an order for service members. This is consistent with other DoD certification programs.

SC Workforce

Who must be certified?

All members of the Department of Defense (DoD) Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) are required to obtain an appropriate security cooperation (SC) certification, and they must maintain certification as long as they remain in an SC position.

10 U.S.C Section 384(h) 1-6 defines the DoD SCW as:

  1. Members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense working in the security cooperation organizations of United States missions overseas.
  2. Members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense in the geographic combatant commands and functional combatant commands responsible for planning, monitoring, or conducting security cooperation activities.
  3. Members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense in the military departments performing security cooperation activities, including activities in connection with the acquisition and development of technology release policies.
  4. Other military and civilian personnel of Defense Agencies and Field Activities who perform security cooperation activities.
  5. Personnel of the Department of Defense who perform assessments, monitoring, or evaluations of security cooperation programs and activities of the Department of Defense.
  6. Other members of the armed forces or civilian employees of the Department of Defense who contribute significantly to the security cooperation programs and activities of the Department of Defense by virtue of their assigned duties.

Which Billets/positions are exempt from Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP)?

The following categories of billets/positions are exempt from Security Cooperation Workforce Development Program (SCWDP) certification requirements:

  1. Members of the armed forces and DoD civilian employees in operational units engaged in intermittent, occasional, or incidental interactions with the security establishment of a foreign country, not substantially accountable or responsible for achieving a purpose or purposes defined by Title 10 of the United States Code, Section 301 (10 U.S.C. 301).
  2. DoD attorneys, since they are subject to separate professional licensing requirements. However, SC training opportunities should be extended to attorneys when such training is relevant to their duties, and SC-related training may be made mandatory at the discretion of the supervising attorney.
  3. Private sector employees providing services/support under contract with the DoD, although there may be SC-related training requirements associated with the functions that some contractors perform in support of DoD SC programs and activities. Those requirements should be articulated/delineated in the contract terms.

NOTE: There may still be SC-related training requirements associated with the categories of positions listed above. Those requirements will be identified by the individual DoD components or in other DoD guidance.

Are DoD employees not in an SC position and/or contractors eligible for certification?

Only members of the Department of Defense (DoD) Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) as defined in 10 U.S.C Section 384(h) have certification requirements. Personnel who are not in a DoD SCW position cannot be certified, but they can still register for and complete training. Online distance learning is generally available to all. However, registration for resident courses is prioritized per the position below:

Priority for registration of resident courses:

  1. DoD personnel assigned to Key SCW Positions taking a course that is required for certification.
  2. DoD personnel assigned to Key SCW positions taking a course that is not required for certification but that is deemed necessary by the DoD Component based on the developmental needs of the person to fill the Key SCW position.
  3. DoD personnel not in Key SCW positions taking a course required for certification.
  4. Locally Employed Staff taking a course requested by the relevant Combatant Command.
  5. Contractors taking a course required by the terms of the contract.
  6. DoD personnel assigned to SCW positions (but not to Key SCW positions) taking a course for any other purpose.
  7. Interagency partner personnel.

Certain non-SCW personnel perform important SC functions but are not part of the statutory SCW including, but not limited to, civilian employees of the United States Coast Guard, foreign service nationals, and locally employed staff. Those personnel are not eligible for certification under this program. Instead, DSCA may grant them a certificate of equivalency when they meet the training and experience requirements for certification in a particular AoC and certification level.

A certificate of equivalency documents that the individual meets the mandatory training and experience requirement for certification in a particular AoC and certification level. While not an SC certification per se, a certificate of equivalency will have commensurate value within the SCW equivalent to the statutory certification required under this certification program.

What are Key Security Cooperation Workforce positions?

Key Security Cooperation Workforce billets or positions are those with duties and responsibilities that require the incumbent to issue guidance, make decisions, or direct security cooperation (SC) activities that directly affect the execution of SC programs or activities. Key SC positions and billets are inherently governmental. There is no grade or rank requirement and no specified nor prescribed certification level for Key SC positions.

Travel

If I need to travel to take courses, who is responsible for the funding?
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) will centrally-fund Defense Security Cooperation University (DSCU) courses taken by Security Cooperation Workforce (SCW) members to achieve a required level of certification. If funds are available, DSCA will centrally fund DSCU courses that a DoD component requires a SC Workforce member take, but not required for certification. DSCA will not fund discretionary security cooperation (SC) training, non-SC training or training taken for continuous learning credit.