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Security and Protection Category Council proves category management saves millions

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- The Security and Protection Category Council has been busy saving the Air Force millions of dollars and fine tuning contracting processes using a structured approach called category management.

Established in January 2017, the council has concentrated its efforts on strategically analyzing and managing spending to reduce total cost of ownership.

The council has reduced duplication of effort and leveraged "buying as one" spending for five Air Force-wide contracts resulting in $10 million in rate and process savings.

Scott Heise, council director assigned to the Air Force Security Forces Center, said a new M9 and M4 targets contract that provides ready-to-use targets, is an excellent example of category management success.

“Previously, Air Force combat arms personnel were requisitioning blank silhouette targets through the supply system and then spending 4,600 hours per year hand drawing circles to make them ready for the Air Force Qualification Course. By utilizing category management processes, they were able to award a contract to a small business that could provide targets with pre-printed circles. Projected man-hour savings over the five-year contract period of performance is $1 million.

The council also found success in the area of data-driven decisions, in which they analyzed $500 million of historical Air Force spending and identified $120 million where efficiencies and standardization could be improved. Most of it was for security systems used to protect Air Force installations. Since the council’s gap analysis concluded the Air Force already has an enterprise-wide integrated funding, requirements and acquisition security systems process that meets or exceeds all industry standards, the council is now looking at implementing ways to increase the use of the more efficient integrated process. Looking at the data, Heise said they determined the problem is the limited annual capacity of the process.

“To highlight the need for change, data showed the integrated process was able to address $200 million of Air Force security systems requirements with only 500 contract actions,” Heise said. “It took 100 other contracting offices four times as many contract actions to address half the requirements.”

Heise also said the council is leveraging the new Federal Category Management structure to improve the lethality, readiness and standardization of Air Force systems. Historical spend data also showed the Air Force was buying a wide variety of explosive detection systems and cargo and baggage screening equipment. Heise and his team are partnering with the Transportation Security Administration, the recognized federal expert on these systems, to see if they can help the Air Force implement a better sourcing strategy to obtain a standardized set of the best overall systems.

The Security and Protection Category Council is one of the first two category management councils in the Air Force. It is led by the AFSFC, an Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center primary subordinate unit.

Col. Brian Greenroad, AFSFC commander, is the category manager. The council director, Heise, said their efforts in sourcing strategy decisions must be data driven, closing the gap between the current buying strategy and business- and market-intelligence identified government or industry best practices.

In addition to savings or cost avoidance, category management should also provide better products or services and standardization; all while promoting small business utilization rates. Category management has been used by commercial industry for years. The Office of Management and Budget began using the approach in the federal government in December 2014.