HomeMediaArticle Display

Commentary: Base operations in a lean budget environment

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- If you're like me and have been watching the news in the last six months, you've probably heard the Air Force is facing some significant budget reductions for at least the next several fiscal years. What's the driving force behind those reductions and what does that mean to base operations?

In the rollout of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, the Air Force Budget Office depicts a fiscal environment in which the national deficit and debt problems are risks to our national security. Through the Budget Control Act, the Department of Defense is mandated to do its part in debt reduction by achieving a $487 billion cut to the budget over the next 10 years.

Historically, most of us haven't typically dealt with the realities of fluctuating budgets. Reductions in the past have been absorbed through cost-cutting measures "above our pay grade." Things like adjustments in major weapon systems procurement, curtailing modernization programs, or realignment of missions and infrastructure have been the targets of past reductions. Or, better yet, we've lived in an era of increasing budget baselines. Well, I have news. The realities of a declining budget are coming soon to an Air Force base near you.

To achieve a focus on cost reductions through more efficient operations, the Air Force for the coming fiscal year is proposing a $700 million reduction in the operations and maintenance budget associated with installation support, facility sustainment, restoration and modernization. As you're likely aware, those are the dollars funding basic services and capabilities such as grounds maintenance, refuse collection, custodial services, elevator maintenance, dorm washer/dryer lease, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning maintenance, work order supplies, dining facility operations, library services, fitness center operations, facility repairs/improvements, and the list goes on.

So maybe you're asking yourself, why is a contracting officer concerned about opining on such matters? Well, mainly because the activities described in the preceeding paragraph are predominantly provided through contracted operations. Before I completely spook the herd, I must say not all of those listed activities will be targeted for immediate reductions or elimination. Those decisions are yet to be determined by our base, major command, and in some cases, Air Force leadership. The savings have to come from somewhere though, and you can expect to see a reduced level of contracted services in some areas.

As a contracting officer, I'm concerned about those adjustments because our natural tendencies are to "help" the mission, possibly by directing (inappropriately) the contractor to alter their service. By doing so, we either alleviate a vendor of the responsibility of performing work they're being paid to accomplish, or we run the risk of reducing the services received without achieving any monetary savings. In due time, those adjustments will be properly made through a customer request to alter or eliminate the service, followed by formal direction to the vendor from Contracting.

As a squadron commander, I'm concerned about those adjustments because in most cases, the work will still need to be performed. If not paid for through contracts, then I know the tasks will likely fall back on our Airmen and Soldiers, who are already stretched thin and fully employed in their primary duties.

However, I have the utmost confidence we will rise to the challenge, and perform up to our immense professional standards. After all, I can (and will) gladly sweep the floors, remove my trash and occasionally mow the grass, in order to keep our scarce dollars focused on force structure, readiness, and modernization. Oh, and don't forget to turn the lights off. Every dollar saved matters.

Original content found here.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

Department of the Air Force does not exercise any responsibility or oversight of the content at external link destination.

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of linked web sites or the information, products, or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and morale, welfare and recreation sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links are provided consistent with the mission of this web site.