ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --
A pen scratches across a page, its ink bleeding a signature below a myriad of words, and thus a covenant is formed. The pen is mightier than the sword, a common expression that is seldom truer than with that of the 28th Contracting Squadron.
The 28th CONS is one of the smallest squadron on base but plays an important role in providing agile contracting support and business advice to those who work at Ellsworth Air Force Base. When it comes to acquiring additional personnel, equipment or supplies, contracting has it covered.
“We act as business advisors to the wing,” said Staff Sgt. Tanner Meyer, a contracting officer assigned to the 28th CONS. “We plan and manage essential supplies and services, negotiate terms, establish organizational structure and personnel, and commodity purchases throughout the wing. Nothing gets bought without contracting.”
When most think of money, their minds go to the finance office. While finance budgets the money, it is ultimately contracting who spends it.
“With the money that we have in our budget, only contracting can legally authorize its use,” said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Magbitang, the squadron superintendent assigned to the 28th CONS. “That’s why our motto is ‘You got it – we bought it,’ because it’s true.”
Buying equipment and supplies aren’t the only thing these contracting professionals do. Before purchases can be made, they help prepare and negotiate contracts to qualified vendors.
“Customer relations is a big part of our operations. Without good customers it makes our jobs a lot harder,” Magbitang stated. “Our Airmen are doing more research ensuring they have everything the customer needs. There are many things we outsource now; the Air Force is changing. We have less people to do stuff, but with contracting we can contract out those services that we still need.”
When creating a contract the contracting officer and administrators solicit the requirement and works with the customer to answer any questions regarding specific details. Once they receive the quotes, they are evaluated based on any number of evaluation types with the help of the customer. At this point contracting chooses a winner to award the contract to, discuss delivery terms, and receive goods before payment is made and the contract is closed out.
“As a unit, contracting plays a large role in everything the base does,” Meyer explained. “We are called on to support everything the wing needs. From purchasing equipment and deployment gear for the squadrons to facilitating the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron base sustainment efforts, if something needs to be procured or built on base you can assume contracting has a hand in it.”
In addition, supporting the acquisition of commodities, services and construction needs the 28th CONS operates the Wing Government Purchase Card program. Current active contracts include snow removal services, acquiring dorm furniture, and placing an automated gate at the Foxtrot entry control point, increasing airfield security measures.
“We have a 220 million dollar portfolio,” Magbitang said. “We did 717 actions this past year which helped the B-1 bomber and MQ-9 Reaper missions. The better we do our jobs the more we get from it and the base reaps the rewards.”
And reap the rewards they did. Thanks to all that the Airmen had accomplished throughout the year, the squadron was awarded the Air Force Global Strike Command Contracting Squadron of the Year Award.
“We set the precedence this year,” Meyer stated confidently. “This award is because of this team. It shows that we can get the mission done effectively and efficiently.”
Being selected the best contracting squadron across eight bases is a great honor and will allow them to compete at the Air Force level.
“It’s a huge deal to be number one at your MAJCOM [Major Command],” Magbitang said. “It recaptures all the things the people here do. These guys work hard and it just validates all the great things, hard work and extra hours they’ve put in this past year.”
Advising, obligating money, negotiating contracts and evaluating their performances, the 28th CONS ensures that Ellsworth funds are spent appropriately and put to the best possible use.
“Contracting is extremely important to the mission,” Magbitang said. “It’s like a force multiplier, being able to partner with the customer and making sure their requirements are well built. I’m extremely proud of the people here. To have this kind of impact while being one of the smallest division on base, it’s amazing.”