Robins contracting enterprise has worldwide reach Published May 1, 2015 By Jenny Gordon Robins Public Affairs ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When you look around Robins, almost everything you see has been touched by a contract in one way or another. Whether it's for custodial services inside a building, paved roadways, support equipment for vehicles, or parts for key weapon systems, someone has eyes and hands on every contract ranging from a few dollars to billions. Contracts obligated from Robins span across the globe - a $6 billion enterprise - with major airframes and electronics systems that support and extend the Air Force's weapon systems capabilities. "Being at Robins, there are so many diverse mission sets that you get a world of experience just moving around here and making an impact wherever you go," said Tony Baumann, Contracting director, who started his career at Robins over 30 years ago. It's a collective effort of not only contracting personnel, but also program managers and engineers in program offices across the installation. Among the contracting organizations at Robins, there's the Contracting directorate, an operating location part of the Air Force Sustainment Center, along with positions aligned with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. Both collectively employ nearly 400 personnel, with 33 percent of the work force with less than six years of experience. On the AFSC side, contracting supports the 638th Supply Chain Management Group's efforts to the tune of between $300 million and $400 million per year to repair legacy weapon system components. The 78th Air Base Wing obligates $200 million each year, supporting such things as grounds maintenance and facilities upgrades and improvements, many that are visible to those out and about on base. Contracting efforts also aid the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex's maintenance groups, annually obligating an estimated $30 million. With more than half the contracting work force obligating $5.5 billion in LCMC, Robins is the lead on many programs, with 10 program offices to support the C-5, C-17, C-130 and F-15 divisions; Support Equipment and Vehicles, and Automated Test Systems; Electronic Warfare; Special Operations Forces; C2ISR; Armament and Specialized Management Division. Just like the gated approach used in the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group and 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group, contracting has implemented its own standardized processes to do its work more efficiently. Five gates outline the acquisition process, the first three of which are owned by the customer. Those five gates include identifying and validating a need; determining an in-house or contract solution; purchase request preparation; solicitation preparation to awarding a contract; and contract administration. By using the AFSC Way and focusing on how a customer plays a role in the total acquisition picture, the gated approach will make a difference in the capability and maturity of the entire process. Planning ahead 24 to 30 months in advance is key, according to Baumann. See what contracts are due and know the timeline for activities so that you can meet the customers' need date. This process will soon be measured more effectively. "That way we know exactly where a requirement is so we can start measuring how long it's taking," he said. "If we can measure that, we can find areas in the process that are taking longer than anticipated, and figure out how we can improve it." One successful approach is the ongoing collaboration between the 78th Civil Engineer Group and contracting's Infrastructure Contracting Section. Nearly $90 million in construction funding was received in fiscal 2014 to support restoration, modernization and sustainment projects across the base. Successful obligation was the direct result of advance planning and foresight, enabling CE and contracting to be responsive to end-of-year funding releases. Robins has also played a key role in what's been described as the largest foreign military sales case in U.S. history - a $29 billion FMS agreement to acquire and support F-15SA aircraft for Saudi Arabia. Contracting personnel here provide logistics support for the conversions of existing aircraft to the new configuration, as well as maintenance and supply support planning. Historically contracting was a large, centralized organization physically separated from its supported customers. Beginning in 1990, contracting offices became integrated with their customers as they are today. "Our contracting branches are really connected better today with the customer than at any time in my career," said Baumann. "Is there room for improvement and better feedback? Yes. Are we always on the same page? No. But the fact is that proximity allows you access and the environment to discuss and solve problems much faster. "I'm really proud of our work force because they rise to the occasion," he added. "They're very serious and understanding of what their warfighter commitment is. They go the extra mile to make sure they're leaning ahead of the game. I'm impressed with their professionalism."