Unit Spotlight: 52nd Contracting Squadron

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Gustavo Castillo
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"The 52nd Contracting Squadron is an organization made up of not just military personnel, but also U.S. civilians and local national personnel, all working together to support or enable all the other unit's or agencies' missions," said Maj. David Zimmerman, 52nd CONS commander from Lincoln, Neb. "In any case, if they need supply service or construction, we are here to enable it through the contracting process."

The 52nd Fighter Wing needs supplies. Contractors can procure these supplies using tax payer money. They can also use those funds for services now that the Air Force downsized with current and future personnel cuts; the Air Force needs Airmen focused on mission.

The plans and programs, civil engineer operations and base support flights make up the 52nd CONS.

The plans and programs flight maintains all systems computer the squadron uses, as well as the government purchase card program.

Each squadron throughout the base has one or more card holders who use the program to procure supplies to complete and support the 52nd Fighter Wing mission.

The plans and programs flight also ensures policy and compliance. Here, contractors initiate self-assessments to review contracts during important parts of the process.

Quality assurance comprises a portion of the plans and programs flight as well. This program ensures contractors do not stray from specifications in service contracts, which keeps the 52nd FW safe from potential legality issues.

Service contracts make up about 70 percent of contract portfolio and must be monitored efficiently.

The civil engineer support flight deals with anything and everything related CE. The squadron supports the sustainment, restoration and modernization of facilities on Spangdahlem Air Base.

The base support provides the same support as the CE support flight, but for the rest of the base. For example, they can support the 52nd Medical Group, which is one of the larger customers and sometimes most complex. Requirements for nurses and medical clerks must be followed, and, in doing so, a large amount of contract reviewing is done.

Although the 52nd CONS works with just about every unit on base, they are the smallest squadron in the 52nd Fighter Wing. With 40 authorized positions, including six U.S. civilians, 16 military and 18 local nationals, they make sure every unit has what they need to support the mission.

In fiscal year 2013, the 52nd CONS oversaw 738 contract actions that added up to about $15.9 million.

Although the squadron is busy year-round, approximately 50-60 percent of the workload appears in the last four months of the fiscal year when U.S. Armed Forces Europe begins to distribute money, and squadrons make an abundance of purchases before the October 1 deadline.

According to Zimmerman, without the 52nd CONS, the government may not be getting the best value for the tax payer's dollar. A lot of administration and a lot of rules go in to contracts and their completion. The squadron constantly trains on how to get the best value for the taxpayers.

Employees must have a certain level of education to become a contractor. Civilians must have a bachelor or equivalent degree with 24 credit hours in business, and Airmen return back to technical school periodically to get certifications as they continue to work in the squadron.

"The tax payer has given us their trust in how that money is spent," Zimmerman said. "So we are very careful on how it is spent. Without us, there wouldn't be that oversight."