From maintaining the airfield and maintenance equipment to custodial services and hangar upkeep, personnel in the 56th Contracting Squadron at Luke Air Force Base not only handle all the contracts for the base but their work also helps stimulate the local economy.
“Most of the contracts we handle are for the base’s construction, demolitions and renovations,” said Mary Peetz, 56th CONS director of business operations and small business specialist. “We also purchase and manage 78 service contracts for the base, some of which include custodial, grounds maintenance and transient alert. Our largest service contract is for the turnkey operation of the Barry M. Goldwater Range valued at $65 million dollars.”
In addition, contracting buys commodities for the 56th Fighter Wing and tenant units. A prime example of this is outfitting the new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter facilities with furniture, fixtures and equipment.
When contracting receives a new requirement, one of the most important elements of the acquisition is market research. Maj. Quoc-Nam Nguyen, 56th CONS commander, wanted his squadron to source more requirements to local businesses.
“We take it upon ourselves to try and solicit to Arizona contractors,” Nguyen said.
“We do this to meet our wing commander’s priority of community, which involves us building relationships between Luke Air Force Base and those in the local area. On the economic side, if we can award a contract to a local business, that’s generating jobs and stimulating the local economy. The more we can do that the better it is for Arizonans.”
To help local contractors, 56th CONS personnel hold outreach events quarterly as well as attend several federal events aimed at educating contractors on the requirements to do business with Luke. They also help in forecasting upcoming contracting requirements for the next five years, Peetz said.
“Last year we awarded a total of $44.4 million in contract dollars and of that amount 38 percent went to Arizona-based companies while 61 percent was contracted to out-of-state companies,” Peetz said. “However, although 61 percent was contracted out of state, those companies largely hire almost all local labor, which in turn
has a positive effect on the local economy.”
Another way contracting helps the local economy is through the government purchase card, a program run by contracting.
“We have 239 cardholders on base,” Peetz said. “As contracting officers, we give authority to those cardholders to make purchases up to $3,000 and depending on the requirement, up to $25,000,” Peetz said. “Last year $8.2 million was spent in the GPC program with 52 percent of those dollars going to Arizona companies.”
Through their contracts, contracting not only helps the local community and economy but also supports every aspect of Luke’s flying and training mission.
“Our main mission is to keep the F-16s flying,” Nguyen said. “Although we don’t directly support operations, everything we touch helps those Airmen keep jets in the air. The aircraft can’t fly unless our contractors maintain the airfield. Also, some of the maintenance equipment wouldn’t be serviced appropriately, so the maintainers wouldn’t be able to use the equipment to maintain the aircraft. Even the fuel provided to the aircraft is contracted through the Defense Logistics Agency. Almost everything on this base is done through a contract.”