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October 12, 2012

Contracting, helping get what’s needed

You may not have known it, but on Sept. 30, the last day of fiscal 2012, there were Thunderbolts working late into the night. Luke’s comptroller and contracting squadron’s worked late closing out accounts and making sure money was properly spent.

The 56th comptroller and contracting squadrons work closely together to ensure that Luke has money and that it’s spent correctly.

“The busiest day of the year for [contracting] is definitely Sept. 30,” said 1st Lt. Emy Winkler, 56th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist. “First, it’s the end of the fiscal year. Then on Oct. 1 all the recurring contracts like wastewater treatment, grounds maintenance, etc., must be re-awarded.”

It’s not just Sept. 30 that’s busy for them; it starts almost two months before.

“We start getting busy Aug. 1 as more requirements trickle in because all the units on base want to spend their money,” Winkler said. “We will stay busy until Oct. 1 and then we go back to a normal working pace for the rest of the year.”

All contracts go through the squadron, so the end of the year can get tricky if base units aren’t aware of the process. All contracts start with a unit identifying a need or requirement.

“We get requirements from our customers (the units on base),” said Maj. Quoc-Nam Nguyen, 56th CONS commander. “They may say we need office chairs or we need to renovate the bathrooms.”

Once identified, the unit must get their request validated to make sure what they want is really what they need.

“For example, if a unit needs their bathroom renovated, they would contact the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron to make sure the requirement is validated,” Nguyen said. “Then CE will find out how much the renovation will cost. CE gives us the estimate, and we use that to get money from the unit for the project.”

For requirements involving facility work, CE, contracting and finance work closely. CE validates and estimates. Finance makes sure there’s money, and contracting finds a vendor to do the work and then pays them for that work.

During the end of the year, if there is unspent money, units which have identified requirements early can get awarded the contracts faster.

“There are two boards that meet to identify requirements across the wing,” Nguyen said. “First is the facility utilization board, run by CE, which identifies work needed for base facilities. Second is the financial working group, run by finance, which identifies all other requirements like office chairs or TVs.”

These boards make a list of all the requirements they have received and bring them to the wing commander. The commander then prioritizes the requirements for funding.

“We hope to get the requirements 120 days before,” Nguyen said. “With that much time, my Airmen can advertise the projects and we will have contractors pre-priced. Then we wait for funding to get pushed from finance, and within an hour we can usually have those requirements awarded.”

The process of awarding a contract takes time, especially at the end of the year.

“We have time requirements set by the government,” Nguyen said. “We must have a contract advertised for so many days and other time requirements, so coming to us late in the game will decrease chances of getting the work done. Units need to think about us all year, not just the end of the fiscal year.”




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