Air Force ramps up new strategic sourcing office

The Air Force has established a new unit to leverage the purchasing power of its 70 U.S.-based installations and save up to $2.3 billion during the next five years.

The Enterprise Sourcing Group, launched in late October, will follow a strengthened strategic sourcing strategy in which it buys commodities and services that are common to most Air Force bases in bulk. The goal, officials said, is to streamline the acquisition process while obtaining better prices.

"We are creating efficiencies across the Air Force as a whole, which is a good thing for everybody," Mario J. Troncoso, the unit's director, told Government Executive earlier this week. "Centrally procuring gives us good control. We can do continuous improvement cycles and relook at these things while at the same time being transparent to taxpayers and our government."

The initiative has gone through a number of changes in recent years. The Air Force in 2007 announced plans to open five regional strategic sourcing contracting centers, but the economic downturn, along with various issues on bases, made the idea less "palatable than it originally looked on paper," Troncoso said.

The service then shifted its strategy and concentrated on developing a more centrally located unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio. The Enterprise Sourcing Group will house about 400 contracting officials and include a small business office, a business support group and three enterprise sourcing squadrons. Six commodity councils will manage the acquisition process. The Air Force also is standing up satellite offices for the unit in Texas, Alabama, Florida and Nebraska.

Expectations are high. Domestic Air Force bases spend about $10 billion on contracts for commodities and services annually and the Enterprise Sourcing Group will manage roughly half that total within the next five years. Internal estimates show the unit could save up to 15 percent of what the service now spends for common goods and services by standardizing requirements, better analyzing past purchases and eliminating redundant acquisition efforts.

For example, the group's Information Technology Council has begun awarding centralized procurements for desktop computers while its Force Protection Council has issued contracts for gear and equipment for security personnel, Troncoso said. Agreements for office supplies, furniture and medical services also are under way.

"We will be saving money and manpower by approaching installation contracting from a strategic perspective," Gen. Donald Hoffman, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, said during an Oct. 28 activation ceremony. "However, we will not lose sight of small business. That's been my pledge and my challenge to the new group to motivate, stimulate and encourage small business."

Getting small firms involved often has been difficult for agencies implementing wide-ranging strategic sourcing plans. Typically, when small contracts are bundled together, the total cost and labor required to complete the work are out of reach for small businesses, leaving midsize and large firms as the primary bidders.

But, Troncoso said the Air Force is willing to make cost trade-offs in an effort to consider small businesses. Other times, the service might have to expand its market research to seek out new candidates, he said.

"There is no one cookie-cutter answer to how we can structure contracts in a way to make it more or less small business friendly," he said. "It's something we are going to have to roll into our entire process."

Strategic sourcing, which gained steam during the George W. Bush administration, is part of a larger Defense Department effort to reduce overhead spending and redirect $100 billion to the warfighter. The Pentagon plan also includes closing the U.S. Joint Forces Command, a 10 percent reduction on service support contractors during each of the next three years, and decreasing funding for intelligence advisory and assistance contracts.

In addition to contracting at bases, the Enterprise Sourcing Group will award procurements for the Air Force Center for Engineering and Environment, the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency and the Defense Technical Information Center. The group also will support Air Force medical contracting.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.