Innovation, creative thinking helps PACAF save millions
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Consumers have a variety of sources to help them comparison shop in order to receive the best price possible before making any purchase. But how does the Air Force comparison shop?
A few units in Pacific Air Forces discovered some innovation and a touch of creative thinking could bring substantial savings command wide.
"The key is to change the mindset from 'this is the way it's always been done in the past' to thinking outside the box and discovering better acquisition strategies and ways we can save." said Chief Master Sgt. Gene Eastman, Air Force installation contracting agency - operating location pacific (AFICA OL-PAC) chief enlisted manager.
Outside the box thinking paid off to the tune of more than $50 million last fiscal year on five contracts alone.
"I'm thrilled at what the teams accomplished," said Col. Renee Richardson, director of contracting, AFICA OL-PAC. "What really impressed me is that the entire team was on board with 'let's do this differently.' They came together and put some blood, sweat and tears into it and came up with innovative approaches."
Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, used a new approach to maximize competition for their grounds maintenance contract. Instead of looking at the requirement as a whole, they divided it into three sections. This allowed multiple vendors to bid on what specialties they could provide versus having one contractor cover the entire base.
"We wouldn't have been successful without patience on the part of the [Wing, Group, Civil Engineer Group, and Mission Support Group]," said Charles Julian, mission support flight chief, 18th Contracting Squadron. "From the moment we realized we weren't making the 1 October (deadline), leadership made it clear that 'right' was more important than 'right now!' ... a stance that paid off immensely."
The patience of the leadership at Kadena AB paid off in a savings of more than 27%, or $7 million over a five-year contract.
Another savings success occurred when the 354th Mission Support Group civil engineering and contracting teams worked together on market analysis and created competition with local vendors at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The competition reversed years of sole source contracts thus saving 72% or, $323,000, which the 354th Fighter Wing was able to use for critical unfunded requirements.
"In part, just the mere presence of competition forces contractors to bid more equitably" said Col. Larry Rice, 354th MSG commander, "That along with the guarantee of future work, helps them to manage their costs/workforce better."
It was the competition that allowed for savings potential, but the teamwork is what really created the success.
"None of these would've been possible without the requirement activity, contracting, legal and FM working together." Richardson said. "We like to say acquisition is a team sport and this highlights when the team gets together how successful this team sport is."