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MSG Corner: Commercial Acquisition Flight, getting AF best value

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
With all the budget cuts and doing more with less, the 36th Contracting Squadron commercial acquisition flight's responsibility of getting the Air Force more bang for their buck is needed now more than ever.

The main job of the commercial acquisition flight is to procure the items that the units on base need to operate. The squadrons would send the funding document with the specifications of what they want over to the flight, and the flights purchase the goods and have the items delivered to the unit.

"Basically we buy anything that the squadrons or units need for the activities at Andersen Air Force Base," said Keith Beem, 36 Contracting Squadron Commercial Acquisition Flight contracting specialist. We buy anything from furniture to equipment and tools. For example, we buy the equipment at the dining facility: stoves, utensils, even the service lines."

The flight usually does not purchase items funded under $3,000. For those small purchases, the unit would have to use their government purchase card.

A huge part of the responsibility of the flight is saving the Air Force money. During the last fiscal year, Mr. Beem said that they saved the Air Force approximately $2.5 million.

"How we save the government money is we promote the maximum competition we can," he said.
"When we get the requirements, we put it up on an international government website where any vendor in the country can give us a quote. Through competition, we get the best values."

"Quite often, if we get funded $50,000, we can buy the materials for around $30,000," he continued. "The squadrons are usually able to use the money left over for other requirements that they need."

Due to the budget cuts, the flight has not received as many funding documents as they had the previous year.

The support that the flight provides the base extends over purchasing items for daily base operations. It extends to providing the base adequate manpower and supporting the exercises the units conduct and even real-world missions.

"We also have service contracts with the medical group and deal with bringing in civilians and contractors to work on base," said Mr. Beem.

A huge part of the flights function is supporting the exercises that the units conduct to improve mission readiness.

"We had Cope North; this September we're going to have Valiant Shield," he said. We obtain the supplies that they need that the squadrons do not already have. We provide office space, portable toilets, drinking water when necessary, and hundreds of rental cars for those flying in for the exercises."

For real world missions, Mr. Beem said that for missions where evacuation teams or any big group of people come though the Andersen, the flight provides their living necessities.

Despite their numerous responsibilities, the flight is made up of 20 people at the moment, three of them currently deployed.

"People are constantly deploying, permanently changing stations or going to school, so at any given time we have between 15-20 people in here," he said. "Much like many of the squadrons, we have a lot of turnover, new Airmen and noncommissioned officers who have recently changed career fields. We've become a bit of a training flight."

In order to accomplish the work more efficiently, Mr. Beem asks that the squadrons take more time in creating their funding statements and be more specific and descriptive in what they want the flight to purchase for them.

"I would like to suggest that the squadrons tell us what they want with good salient characteristics in terms of function, size, color, to name a few," said Mr. Beem. "They need to describe the product and be more specific so we can provide them with what they really want and need. We just want to provide the squadrons the best product with the best value for the government."

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