An Air Force without contracting

  • Published
  • By Airman Autumn Velez
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Imagine the Air Force without contracting.

Although it's often behind the scenes, contracting of products and services is a major component that allows the military to function. Without it, Dyess wouldn't be much more than the men and women who make up its ranks.

"Literally everything you see comes from contracting," said 1st Lt. Michael Murrow 7th Contracting Squadron contracting manager. "There are heaping amounts of paper work, but our work is exhibited everywhere on base. Without us, there would be no buildings, roads, printers or mission essential items. This whole base is up and running because contracting has had some part in all of it."

Contracting of goods and services is dependent on the needs and desires of the squadrons. To initiate the process, a work order is filed, and then 7th CONS puts out a request for contractors specializing in the service or product that is needed.

"Whenever possible, we are required to get competition on bids because this helps drive the price down, which in turn helps us better use tax payer money," said Ronald Miller, 7th CONS director of business operations. "It's expected that we are good stewards of tax dollars, even more so now that money is tight."

With every project, the squadron said they do their best to find the most suitable contractor. They take into consideration price, as well as past performances of the providers. Often, 7th CONS strives to contract the businesses of women and service-disabled veterans in the local area through their small business program.

"Even though big companies may be able to provide a lower rate, reaching out to small businesses allows for economic growth," Murrow said. "In the end, if we primarily used large companies, small businesses wouldn't be afforded any opportunities."

In order to meet the needs of different squadrons, attention to detail and accuracy within the work orders are of upmost importance.

"When requesting a work order, a customer is going to get what they ask for," Miller said. "For example, if the customer asks for a red chair without a model number or any other specifications, the customer may receive a red high chair. A contract is only as good as it's written."

Because contracting can often be a complicated process, the warrants to award contracts are only given to select people that have vast amounts of experience.

"We are the only people authorized to commit the government to a contract," Miller explained.

Once the contract is awarded, the responsibilities are far from over.

"We still have to have an administrator doing the daily work on the contract which includes site visits, resolving issues that may arise and overseeing that the work is being properly completed," Miller said. "Even after the project is finished, contracts must be closed out and maintained for five years."

So the next time you look upon Dyess, keep in mind, everything in the Air Force comes from somewhere. Big or small, 7th CONS is there every step of the way.