Transformation can be an opportunity
By Col. John Gilmour, 45th Contracting Squadron commander
/ Published March 13, 2008
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- For our service, which was born of a revolution in technology and doctrine, transformation is fundamental to who and what we are. Transformational change is coming to the way supplies and services are acquired at the installation level in our Air Force through an initiative called "Installation Acquisition Transformation" or IAT.
In Fiscal year 2007, the 45th Contracting Squadron made 759 contract awards and obligated nearly $360 million.
By any measure, that's an impressive workload, and an important contribution to the Wing mission. However, lost in that data are opportunities. There are scores of requirements common to all Air Force installations, or to certain units. Today's focus is on the installation and not the Air Force enterprise. Perhaps this is better understood with the use of an analogy.
Suppose you own a home and you hire a yard service. You have limited buying power. However, if your homeowner's association hires a yard service for all homeowners they might get a better price because of guaranteed volume business. Of course, there would be other benefits such as more consistent yard appearance.
This analogy gets to the heart of what IAT is about: maximizing the Air Force's buying power to achieve efficiencies and savings. To accomplish this, the Air Force will stand up five Regional Contracting Centers (RCCs) at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, Peterson AFB, Colo., Scott AFB, Ill., Langley AFB, Va. and Warner-Robins AFB, Ga. In the future, Patrick requirements that are common to other installations will be referred to the RCCs, which will be under Air Force Materiel Command, for placement on strategic contracts.
What will the advent of these RCCs mean for today's contracting squadrons? We know that their focus will shift from contract execution to requirements development and placement. Organic contract execution capability will remain for locally unique requirements.
Nonetheless, the paradigm we have all grown accustomed to for installation acquisition is going to change profoundly. Such change does not come without risk. Will this undermine unity of effort at the wing level? How will it affect the squadron's greatest resource, its people? And, will customer support be effective under a centralized construct?
Those risks have to be addressed, and effective solutions brought to bear. But, our Air Force has a legacy of mastering transformational change. For Air Force contracting, the institutional architecture may change, but the commitment to world class business solutions for our customers will not.