22nd CONS: Making a big impact with 'Small Business'

  • Published
  • By Maj. Amy Harshner
  • 22nd Contracting Squadron commander
Do you ever wonder what the 22nd Contracting Squadron does or how we process your requirements?

Many times we get calls from customers saying, "Hey, I sent over my Air Force Form 9 on Tuesday, it's Friday now, why isn't it bought?" Some common questions are: "Why does it take so long, or why did it go to that company?"

There is a lot our military and civilian professionals do which is unknown to many but required to support not just your interests, but the interests of the government and the taxpayers.

In fiscal year 2010, the 22nd CONS awarded nearly $38 million in services, construction and supply contracts. In executing that funding, it's our responsibility to get you what you need at a reasonable price, provide fair opportunity and a level playing field for business and make decisions that maintain the trust and confidence of the public.

As such, when we receive AF Form 9's (purchase requests), here are some insights regarding what the 22nd CONS professionals must do:
· Market research to understand fully what your requirement is, and then identify proper sources and develop an acquisition strategy
· Anything more than $3,000 must be competed; more than $10,000 posted to the public (10 days or longer); and more than $25,000 formally posted on the Federal Government's Business opportunities website (sometimes 10 or 30 days minimum depending on complexity and total dollar value)
· All requirements less than $150,000 are automatically reserved for small business. All requirements more than $150,000 will be set-aside if there is an expectation that two or more offers will be received from small business and the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price. Even awards exceeding $650,000, made to a large business, require companies to have plans for subcontracting small business opportunities.

Why the emphasis on small business? The national Small Business Program was first addressed in the Armed Services Procurement Act in 1947 in response to increased corporate monopolies . As needs of the Small Business concerns change, so does the law as evident as the most recent Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Congress has recognized the need to promote and advance the national economy, so laws have been passed to ensure a fair proportion of government contracts are placed with small businesses. In fact, the law requires federal agencies to target a percentage of their total procurement dollars to the following: Small Business (SB), Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Woman-owned Small Business (WOSB), Historically Under-utilized Business Zone (HUBZone) firms, and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). In Air Mobility Command, targets are set at each installation.

It's not just the law. Small businesses have a big impact on our economy. Did you know small businesses provide employment opportunities to more than half of the U.S. private-sector workforce, and created more than 64 percent of new jobs within the past 15 years?

Providing support for programs like Small Business is just one of many factors we must consider as your requirement flows through the acquisition process. There are laws and regulations that restrict procurement from certain countries, companies that are delinquent in their taxes, etc. It may seem like red tape, but when you consider how much money the government spends, it's important to have the right controls and a fair degree of transparency in place.

Hopefully, this behind-the-scenes look has also shed some light for you into how we work to get it right for everyone.

A special thanks to Mr. Dennis Fry for all his research and inputs!