Changes coming to 17 CONS

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Yes, contracting will be transforming like many of the other functionals across the Air Force. Here in the continental United States, our contracting transformation is called Installation Acquisition Transformation. The 17th Contracting Squadron will replace its current role of actually awarding contracts to becoming business advisors and helping our wing customers to administer new and on-going contracts. We will still have oversight over the Quality Assurance Program, Government Purchase Card Program and will be granted approval for some emergency buys.

The plan is for the new unit to be called an Installation Acquisition Squadron. The current squadron is expected to be downsized with the majority of the military positions shifting to the new regional Southwest contracting center in San Antonio, Texas. The new IAS will be made of experienced contracting personnel that will remain at Goodfellow Air Force Base to make sure the 17th Training Wing mission is not impacted by IAT. They will work closely with wing customers, contractors, and act as liaisons to the new contracting regional center.

Five Air Force regional contracting centers are expected to stand-up across the CONUS by Fiscal Year 2012. The regional center will be responsible for executing source selections and making awards of new contracts. Goodfellow will be supported by the San Antonio Regional Contracting Center, which will take care of all Air Force contracting requirements in the Southwest to include Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Southwest will be the pathfinder region and is the first to transform in middle FY09 or early FY10. The other four regions will transform after the Southwest region based on lessons learned and will be as follows: the West Regional Center located at Colorado Springs, Mid-west Regional Center located at St. Louis, Mo., Northeast Regional Center located at Hampton Roads, Va., and Southeast Regional Center located at Warner-Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

Why the transformation? The current structure emphasizes meeting tactical customer requirements, and results in the inconsistent use of skilled contracting resources and the inability to leverage the scale of the Air Force to drive efficiencies. These challenges are compounded by an increase in contracting workload and complexity and on-going mission support commitments, ultimately stressing the ability of the Installation Contracting function to effectively perform its mission. To address these challenges Air Force Installation Contracting must evolve from an organization that provides tactically focused support to a strategically aligned organization that relies upon an agile operating structure, the increased technical competence of its workforce, and the realization of strategic sourcing objectives. This "realigned" Installation Contracting organizational structure will enable the Air Force to improve customer service, reduce purchasing costs, increase quality, and accelerate delivery timeframes.

What about small business? Installation acquisition transformation is about making strategic decisions with respect to how the Air Force acquires good and services. The primary benefit is an ability to look across the Air Force enterprise, analyze the spending and make informed sourcing decisions that in many cases will provide opportunities for small business which are not available today. This transformation will not change the acquisition planning and strategy process where the regional acquisition team, with the small business representative as a key member, decides how best to acquire and manage a good or service. This upfront stakeholder involvement is essential to allow the Air Force to make strategic versus tactical decisions in support of installation and warfighter requirements and focus on the Air Force's socio-economic responsibilities which are critical to the economic health of our nation.

There are many details still to be finalized, but the overall concept was approved by the Secretary of the Air Force on August 2007. Air Force Materiel Command has been designated as the reporting Headquarters for all five regions and has established a Program Management Office to implement the transition. A public website, http://ww3.safaq.hq.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=11457, has been created to address status, any concerns or to gather specific questions in regards to IAT. The PMO is also planning a traveling road show to address senior leaders, customers and contractors concerns at Goodfellow AFB as we move closer to actual transition. The 17th Contracting Squadron is available for current local status, but all other questions should be sent through the SAF/AQC website listed above. Most questions have already been addressed under the frequently asked questions, but if your question is not listed then please ask it. All questions and answers are being posted to reduce the number of repeat questions.