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ECONS: Supplying the base

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Terrica Y. Jones
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

From the essentials for sustaining health and welfare like pallets of bottled water, gym equipment, dining facility staff and custodial services to mission requirements like busses, vehicles and minor construction, the 379th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron provides the expeditionary services and material support to keep Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar operating.

“What we do here has a direct impact on the mission,” said Master Sgt. Devin Harley, 379 ECONS first sergeant and superintendent. “Our mission is to buy things such as medical items, food services, desks and couches to support the warfighters.”

The 379 ECONS is divided into three flights: commodities, services and construction. From July 2015 to January 2016, the unit met several milestones that benefited the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing as well as the US taxpayer, which help AUAB transition to a more enduring posture.

The unit saved the 379 AEW an estimated $6 million by initiating several five-year, long-term contract agreements, Harley said.

“We have transitioned from blanket purchase agreements, which are informal short-term contracts, to long-term contracts,” Harley said. “Typically, prices are higher on a BPA because the contractor can’t predict how long you will be using his or her services. So we experience significant cost savings by transitioning to five-year, long-term contracts.”

In addition to transitioning from short-term to long-term contracts, the contracting office established a new five-year custodial contract that includes grounds maintenance.

The contract is $2 million cheaper than the previous one, Harley added.

“You try to get the best deals when you write contracts, and you try to think of ways to save money and make the dollar go further,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Buena, 379 ECONS service contracting officer.

The 379 ECONS also ensured the improvement of many facilities across AUAB.

“We have upgraded the U.S. Central Command Forward Headquarters heating ventilation and air-conditioning system, completed fire upgrades at the Blatchford-Preston Complex pump house, and ordered and installed a sunshade for aerospace ground equipment personnel,” said Staff Sgt. Jacqueline Bongard, 379 ECONS construction contracting officer. 

The unit also ordered a $35,000 heating ventilation and air-conditioning unit for the BPC mall, Bongard added.

Contracting officers are expected to perform at a high standard.

“I expect them to show up knowing how to do their jobs because they have a lot of responsibility,” Harley said.  “They have a minimum of a million dollar warrant, meaning they can obligate the government for a million dollars just with one signature and they can do that multiple times a day.”

Harely’s airmen said they know they’re having an impact on the mission every day at AUAB.

“You get to physically see the real world mission impact. You can say, ‘I helped build that ramp’ when you see planes take off,” said Bongard.

“We feel a sense of importance because people are depending on us to get them what they need to do their mission,” Buena said.