5 things contracting squadron does for you

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Wilson
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the hustle and bustle of our mission-oriented Air Force, it is easy to take for granted all the work happening behind the scenes to keep operations going - much of this work is accomplished by the 52nd Contracting Squadron.

"There are a lot of things we do behind the scenes that nobody knows about," said Elizabeth Garza, 52nd CONS assistant branch chief. "It takes hours of our days to handle unexpected things that come up."

The behind-the-scene work the contracting squadron completes contributes to distributing more than $35 million in contracts and managing $12 million in government purchase card charges annually.

Most Airmen will likely realize the contracting squadron had a hand in the new hospital or road construction on base and it, however, they might overlook the more subtle things the contracting squadron does for the base.

Below is a short list of just five things a contracting specialist can be thanked for:

-Toilet paper

From janitorial to gardening services, the contracting squadron cultivates the business relationships that keep the base maintained.

"Toilet paper is put there by someone who is contracted to clean the building and stock the toilet paper, soap and paper towels," said Capt. Jeff Gillespie, 52nd CONS construction flight commander. "Every little thing is paid for, and if it is paid for, it is contracted out unless the military is doing it themselves."

-Training opportunities

The fighter squadrons here are required to fly missions and practice weapons training with U.S. allies outside of Germany. Before and during these trips, a contracting specialist provides the units with all the necessities to make the training possible.

Prior to temporary duty assignments a member of the contracting squadron arranges living accommodations and makes as many points of contact as possible for the upcoming trip, according to Staff Sgt. Randal Kyllo, 52nd CONS contracting specialist. Once the unit arrives, those contacts are used to purchase whatever the members need.

"We buy everything that is needed minus jet fuel," he said. "It can be anything from printers to oil drum pumps, cell phones, rental vehicles or heavy equipment. You name and it, we probably bought it at one time or another."

-Furniture and supplies

Whether an office orders through base supply or uses a government purchase card to stock its shelves, the contracting squadron is involved.

"If you need furniture - we buy furniture for you," Ms. Garza said. "We basically buy everything you can dream of."

In some complex GPC situations, Mr. Helmut, 52nd CONS plans and programs flight chief, raises the purchasing limit or works authorizations in unique situations.

"There was one requirement for a retreat event in Geilenkirchen with traveling involved, and you cannot use the government purchase card," Mr. Helmut said. "This was a specific action, and there was a finance regulation that provided an exception."

-A wide variety of vendors

The 52nd CONS is currently planning its biennial vendor day, according to Helmut Disch. In 2008 there were about 2,000 vendors present to discuss changes in the contract procedures, exchange ideas and voice concerns.

"We are always looking out for new vendors," Ms. Garza said. "Every new vendor around here gets the chance to do business with us. We are happy with new vendors because they are, a lot of the time, more innovative."

If a customer on base needs a product valued at more than $25,000, it is posted on the Internet so vendors from around the world can compete for the contract, Ms. Garza said.

-Unusual purchases

Unusual and short-notice requirements tend to cause more excitement in the contracting squadron than high-value items.

"It doesn't always have to have a huge dollar amount," Ms. Garza said. "The most exciting one was the catheters for the pilots - they ran out while at war. We went down to the pharmacy and [the pharmacists] were all excited and actually got them within two days."

It was interesting because it was something simple that made us react quickly, but was an emergency at the time, she said.

Working quickly and efficiently to satisfy customer demands is 52nd CONS's number one goal.

"The first goal is to professionally serve the base organizations with whatever they need to keep up the mission," said Mr. Disch.