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Wing practicing sound resource management

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (AFPN) -- The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing has established new resource management forums that comptroller officials at this forward-deployed location say will be a benchmark for large contingency bases.

The wing recently held its first Financial Working Group and Financial Management Board to ensure commanders at every level work together to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, according to Lt. Col. Ken Pickler, 379th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron commander.

"These resource management forums are fixtures at our home stations, but didn't exist here until this month," he said. "They have already helped us save money by corporately reviewing the wing's spending plans."

The 379th AEW -- one of the largest in the region -- currently does not operate on a fixed budget as U.S. Central Command Air Forces ensures commanders here have funds required to purchase the goods and services they need to accomplish their missions in the war on terrorism.

"The FWG is composed of unit resource advisers who help their commanders 'buy smarter,'" said Tech. Sgt. Ron Millis, the squadron's noncommissioned officer in charge of budget and accounting.

"They do the important work of helping commanders prepare and submit purchase requests for mission-critical goods and services," added Millis, who also chairs the FWG. "The FWG helps the wing get what it needs, quickly and efficiently."

The FMB is made up of commanders at the group and wing level. The goal of the board is to offer a clear view of spending patterns and future major purchases.

"It also provides a forum to discuss lessons learned so deployed commanders can manage the unique problems they often encounter when purchasing from our host nation vendors," Pickler said.

One of the wing's first resource management "success stories" is the purchase of 29 food refrigeration coolers for less than $500,000. The identical coolers were being leased from a local vendor for $2.3 million per year.

"This will save us $1.8 million the first year alone," said Pickler, "and is the kind of smart buying we're aggressively pursuing. The earlier teams did a fantastic job of getting this base up and running quickly, at the best prices locally available. Now we're looking at ways to run it even more efficiently. We have the time to shop around for better deals, from a larger supplier base than the first crew could use."

The wing's initiatives will help commanders get the biggest "bang for the buck" for the money it spends, he said.

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