Air Force freezes A-76 competitions at three bases

The Air Force has frozen all public-private job competitions within the Air Education and Training Command until service officials review the results of a recent competition at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The freeze suspends competitions at Randolph and Sheppard Air Force Bases in Texas and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Roughly 2,450 civilian and military workers at these bases are competing for their jobs. The Air Force announced the freeze in an Aug. 29 letter to Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas, who in December joined with other Texas lawmakers to request a Pentagon investigation of the Lackland competition. The freeze will remain in effect until the Air Force convenes a Pentagon panel to review competitions in the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Air Force Maj. Gen. Leroy Barnidge, Jr. said in the letter. "This panel will incorporate all lessons learned and produce acquisition strategies for the revised Lackland study and the remaining AETC…cost comparisons," said Barnidge. The panel, dubbed the "Acquisition Strategy Panel," will hold its first meeting on Sept. 21, according to the Keesler News, the base newspaper at Keesler. The Air Force last week canceled the controversial Lackland competition and ordered base officials to start a new competition this fall. A primary goal of the panel will be to make sure this new competition succeeds, according to Barnidge. Lackland is not the only base within the AETC to have a public-private competition result in multiple protests and reviews. Last week the Air Force overturned the results of a competition at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., after the General Accounting Office found the contest had been skewed against the contractor. Among the three suspended competitions, the contest at Sheppard was the closest to completion, according to Col. Gray Donnalley, director of the Competitive Sourcing Office at the base. Sheppard officials were in the process of comparing the bid of the selected contractor with that of the in-house team, Donnalley said. About 500 base maintenance jobs are up for grabs at Sheppard. Officials at Keesler were in the process of selecting a contractor to face off against the in-house team, Donnalley added. Keesler is competing 750 civil engineering jobs. At Randolph, officials were writing the performance requirements document--essentially the statement of work all bids must fulfill--when the freeze was issued. Randolph is competing 1,200 aircraft maintenance and base operations jobs, according to Maj. Robert Gonzales. Sheppard employees are taking news of the freeze in stride, according to Donnalley. "I think everybody is pretty calm up here," he said. "We would have liked not to be put on indefinite hold, but we're military guys, so we salute smartly and march on."
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