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IAT roadshow comes to Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Col. Harold Cunningham, chief of the Contracting Division of Headquarters Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., gives a presentation on the Installation Acquisition Transformation Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Prost)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Col. Harold Cunningham, chief of the Contracting Division of Headquarters Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., gives a presentation on the Installation Acquisition Transformation Friday. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Prost)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Installation Acquisition Transformation road show finished up at Vandenberg Friday with a briefing for base personnel and industry partners at the base theater here. 

Col. Harold Cunningham, chief of the Contracting Division of Headquarters Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., gave the one-hour presentation and took questions from audience members. 

Currently, the Air Force has 71 base contracting offices, which leads to redundant procurement of similar goods, sometimes from the same vendors, Colonel Cunningham said. Also, they can only provide tactical support to their assigned installation commanders. 

Under the transformation, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will head five geographically-based installation acquisition groups, leaving only a small contracting presence at each installation. These regional centers will be in Colorado Springs, Colo.; San Antonio, Texas; St. Louis, Mo.; Hampton Roads, Va.; and Warner Robins, Ga. 

"This is strictly what we call an operation contracting transformation, what we do at the 30th Contracting Squadron here and across the Air Force," Colonel Cunningham said. "It doesn't involve the centers where we buy weapons systems, it doesn't involve labs, flight test centers, or the logistics centers that we have." 

By moving toward a regional acquisition process, it will give the Air Force greater visibility into what is bought and how it is done. 

"We may buy, for instance, $3 million in computers here at Vandenberg Air Force Base every year," Colonel Cunningham said. "In the past we haven't taken the time to say if we take $3 million here at Vandenberg and multiply that by 71, we're spending $200 million a year on computers. Are we getting the price that we should be getting because we're buying $200 million in computers?" 

In a lot of cases, the Air Force is not getting the price they should be getting, he said. With this new process, it will help solve that problem. 

"If we have $15 million worth to spend, we can figure out where to spend this from the top down rather than have it trickle up from the 71 different organizations we now have," Colonel Cunningham said. 

The organizations are changing as well, having a "reduced footprint" at each installation. The exact details are still being worked on; however, contracting will continue to have small business specialists at each base, with five at each regional office. 

"(Contracting office) functions will change," the colonel said. "A lot more time will be spent interfacing with customers and helping them develop requirement and give them business advice. That's something we haven't had time to focus on in the past." 

While there will be changes during the transformation, some things will not change. 

"We're still going to have the same set-aside and preference programs, nothing in law has changed, and nothing has changed in our commitment to supporting those programs," Colonel Cunningham said. 

Other things that will remain the same include: 

- Selection criteria and solicitation 

- Industry days and briefings 

- Venues and opportunities for industry to come to understand the requirements and be a part of the process 

Another program that will not change is the government purchase card holder program. It will still be managed locally. The only change that may occur in this program is the how items are purchased. 

"We probably going to provide GPC holders with more tools to buy things off Air Force contracts that will hopefully result in a lower unit price," the colonel said. 

Even through all changes and updates, the Air Force will continue to partner with small business in order to take care of the mission. 

"We rely on contractors more and more every day," Colonel Cunningham said. "That's not going to change."