23d CONS enters ‘playoff season’ of FY closeout

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
For the 23d Contracting Squadron, the end of the fiscal year means one thing. The 39 people assigned to the squadron are working 12 hour days, nights and weekends trying to award contracts for the 110 new projects for the end of the year.

Since funding for fiscal 2012 cannot be spent in fiscal 2013, the 23d CONS receives a flood of requirements from customers trying to meet their remaining needs. The 23d CONS does more than half of their business in the 60 days from late August to early October.

"I always tell people I write contracts for the government," said Victor Huston, 23d CONS contracting specialist. "This is our playoff."

One of the first steps to writing a contract is reviewing the requirements of a purchase. Next, contracting specialists solicit to find the best price based on the given requirements.

"Saving the Air Force money is our day to day operation," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sheldon Murphy, 23d CONS contracting specialist.

He added that sometimes customers become frustrated when the 23d CONS tells a unit that they can't have a certain brand because it is more expensive.

For Murphy, the best part of his job is saving money while still meeting the customer's requirements.

"For me, it's when you get your requirements, and let's say they funded it for $200,000, but you're able to get exactly what the customer wants for $80,000," he said. "That's the satisfaction I get out of it. I see first-hand how much money we save when most people on base will never know what we do.

"We work with our customers to fulfill their requirements," he added. "We get them what they need, not always what they first want. Those are two totally different sides of the coin."

One contracting specialist noted the importance of getting quality equipment for the best price. She said contracting specialists are the authority when it comes to spending tax payer's money.

"We don't really control the budget," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Harper, 23d CONS commodities team lead. "The requirements come to us... We try to meet the requirement with the money that's given to us.

"I think a lot of the customers don't understand what we do," she added. "Sometimes they look at us as a hindrance to buying the items they need. But, it's not just going on the internet and swiping a card. We have federal regulations we have to meet in order to spend citizen's tax dollars. We have to make sure we do it correctly. Unfortunately that means meeting the minimum requirements, and sometimes they don't get that."

These regulations are strictly enforced and monitored. Murphy said there are serious consequences, and Airmen could face jailtime for not following regulations.

"For everything we do here, we do a contract action report that is sent to Congress," said Murphy. "So, there are direct eyes on what we do. We have to make sure we are following the regulations."

Along with these regulations comes piles of paperwork for each contract. The contracting specialists spend 12 hour days working to sort through the piles of plain folders to ensure as many units as possible get the equipment they need.