by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs
8/14/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The
average cost of an F-22 is 54 million dollars; the average cost of the
clock that hangs on the wall in an office, only $25.
But the average cost of the realization that almost everything in sight
on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson has been contracted ... priceless.
The 673 Contracting Squadron provides their customers business solutions
to fit their needs while training and developing the skills of their
personnel to provide JBER enhanced readiness every day, from Humvees to
"Contracting is an integral part of the Air Force and the Department of
Defense," said Gina Parks, 673 CONS director of business operations. "We
are owners of the taxpayers dollars. Our job is to ensure that
contracts are at a fair and reasonable price and that they are compliant
with all the rules and regulations."
Contracts range from concessionaires' contracts such as swimming pool
operators, to base-level contracts or systems-level contracts, which
include munitions, aircraft, research, development and more.
"The mission happens with the support of contracting," said Senior
Master Sgt. Michael Venning, 673 CONS superintendent. "If you use a
government purchase card, thats a contracting action. Whether its a
F-22, for millions of dollars, or a box of computers for a few thousand
dollars, it all gets purchased through a contract action."
Contracts contain terms and conditions that outline specific
requirements. If the terms are not met, actions may be taken in order
for the contractor to fulfill their obligations.
The time it takes to complete a contract can be instant - with the swipe
of a government purchase card - or take up to 18 months, depending on
the complexity of the contract.
The contract process begins when a purchase request is sent to the Contracting Squadron.
"When we get a purchase request in, we work right beside our customers,
especially if its a larger project, said Senior Airman Geoffrey Reid,
673 CONS contracting officer. "We research the laws and regulations, and
get to know the project. Then we try to figure out the best way that we
can buy that and try to make sure they [customers] get it in the time
When Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson combined to become
JBER in 2010, the 673d Air Base Wing was activated as the host wing
combining installation management functions of Elmendorf Air Force
Bace's 3rd Wing and U.S. Army Garrison on Fort Richardson.
"When we joint-based, we consolidated all contracting efforts to include
the garrison piece of the Army mission," Parks said. "We garnered
manpower and also their contracts that transferred over."
To save money, the 673 CONS combines similar contracts for both the Army and Air Force on JBER.
"We did an analysis of similar contracts, and over the past three years
we have worked to consolidate contracts to save the government money,"
"Instead of having two custodial contractors, one for Elmendorf and one
for Richardson, we have combined them to have one for the entire
Contracting officers have the ability to obligate the government.
"An average person cannot obligate the government, without being a
warranted contracting officer," Venning said. "They have to go through
years of training, certifications, interviews and a board process, then
we give them a piece of paper that states you are now authorized to
obligate the government."
The contracting squadron is organized into flights who have flight
chiefs, then team leads, contracting officers and contract specialists.
"Contract specialists do a lot of the work," Venning said. "But they are not authorized to sign the contract."
The mission of the 673 CONS is to ensure the units of JBER are well
stocked by managing contracts, following marketing trends, evaluating
offers, gathering supply sources and sharing their findings so they can
maximize efficiency and set appropriate terms in their contracts.
"If you look out on this base, every unit is affected by contracting,"
Venning said. "All that money has to go somewhere, and a lot of it ends
up in this squadron, to purchase goods, services, and construction that
makes the mission happen."