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NEWS | June 19, 2014

Contracting bridges gap between USAF, industry

By Airman 1st Class Areca T. Wilson 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 633rd Contracting Squadron provides a conduit between technical experts of the U.S. Air Force and industry representatives.

"We act like the central nervous system," said Staff Sgt. Bradley Benedictus, 633rd Contracting Squadron contracting officer. "Anything the installation needs can be obtained through our contracts. We are also responsible for ensuring accuracy and accountability when dealing with various industries."

Contracts range from concessionaires contracts such as swimming pool operators, to base-level contracts or systems-level contracts, which include munitions, aircraft, research, development and more.

Contracting specialists work with customers to identify their needs and find solutions.
"Specialists coordinate with research advisors to complete [request] requirements," said Benedictus. "When a package is obtained, we get information on pricing, negotiate for better deals and coordinate with customers to confirm the items offered by vendors are what installation [personnel are] asking for."

Contracts contain terms and conditions that outline specific requirements. If the terms are not met, actions may be taken in order for the contractor to fulfill their obligations.
Legality and accountability are a major reason for establishing a contract. Benedictus said it is important to keep the customer involved at all times as it signifies "a meeting of the minds."

In order for that cooperation to occur, technical experts from the requesting units assist in answering questions raised by vendors, said Benedictus.

"We count on customers to be our eyes and ears [while a contract is being executed]," said Benedictus. "We ask them to inform us of problems or delays so we can resolve them before they affect the mission.

"Contracting ensures everyone can get a fair chance at government awards," he continued. "Purchasing from small business often has a greater return on investment than purchases from large businesses. Purchases are posted publicly and any qualified vendor can submit a bid in response to a solicitation."

Though bids are posted publicly, the reputation of a business usually comes into play. At the end of each project, the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System is used to rate the vendor's performance.

"During costly purchases, we often use past performance reports as an evaluation factor prior to awarding the contract," said Benedictus. "We use best-value as a determination for award in lieu of low price."

Though each contract may come with challenges, Benedictus said he enjoys facing them head on.

"Finding a way to say "yes" to a customer is the road we must travel to support the Joint Base Langley-Eustis mission," said Benedictus. "Sometimes we have to get creative, partner with an industry or pick the brains of technical experts."

Though most Airmen may have a daily routine, Benedictus said his day is often unpredictable.

"My routine is anything but routine," said Benedictus. "With procurement comes special challenges and requirements keep my day-to-day interesting. Ultimately, our job is to communicate the needs of the customer to industry representatives in a fair and professional manner while acting as stewards of the taxpayer dollar."