New Project Management Flight makes MHAFB better for everyone
By Airman 1st Class Andrew Kobialka, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 09, 2020
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Over the last year, contracting in the 366th Financial Acquisition Squadron has excelled due to the addition of a Project Management Flight.
This flight has shown to play a major role in increasing the efficiency of the contracting process.
Contracting takes funds from a specified budget to buy the required items or services identified by the squadrons, which cannot be produced or supported by Airmen. In the contracting world, you’d call these purchases requirements.
Squadrons start by communicating their requirements with contracting through a performance work statement.
The process is detailed and it’s not uncommon for a performance work statement to be about 30 pages.
Then that triggers what can be a long process of finding a qualified supplier through a bidding process and completing more paperwork.
However, this is fairly routine for contracting specialists.
The real issue is that contract specialists are not subject matter experts (SME) in the requirements they buy.
“We don’t always know the right questions to ask when squadrons need new equipment,” said Andrea Porter, 366th FAS director of business operations for contracting. “But, our project managers do know what to ask and therefore we see time saved and cost-efficiencies.”
The PM Flight is made up of experienced representatives from each squadron who act as a liaison between their respective squadron and contracting.
They are SMEs that can talk the lingo with their squadrons and fully understand their needs. This allows contracting to have a level of clarity they haven’t had before or had to work extensively to gain.
Before the PM Flight there was a saying in the contracting community: “The perfect requirement is always one modification away,” Porter said. “Meaning we don’t always get it right the first time, but we can modify the contract to make it perfect.”
Now the PM flight brings that clarity from the start, eliminating the extensive coordination, time, energy and money spent modifying contracts.
“The biggest benefit of the PM Flight is its ability to streamline the process,” said Tech. Sgt. Arrin Gunn, 366th FAS acquisition project management NCO in charge.
But the PM Flight is also able to look for areas for improvement in existing contracts.
“Tech. Sgt. Gunn used to work in the Dining Facility and is an excellent SME,” Porter said. “She has been able to look at the contract and ask ‘Why do we have that? Why don’t we have that?’. In the end she removed redundancies and identified what could be added to make a better contract.”
Porter explained they wouldn’t have been able to make these improvements without the expertise of Gunn and the other PMs.
“PMs are instrumental in making sure the government got what they needed, troubleshooting any warranty issues and coordinating changing requests with the contracting officer,” Porter said.
The goal is to make contracts more efficient and useful, because when contracts are better, it directly enhances readiness and helps take care of Airmen and their families.
And their impact can be seen throughout base.
Here are a few of recent contracts awarded with the help of the PM flight: the front gate marquee, mortuary affairs, digital X-Ray systems, HandyScan 3D scanner system, water waste treatment plant, porta potties and over 32 other contracts over the last year .
The PM flight is an example of how Airmen can implement unconventional, innovative ideas to affect change that directly supports our community and mission.