Air Force forms council for IT buys

In an effort to take advantage of its overall buying power, the Air Force is forming a council to develop servicewide strategies for buying and managing information technology products.

The Air Force Standards Systems Group (SSG) will lead the new Air Force Information Technology Commodity Council, whose initial focus will be on developing buying strategies for desktop and laptop computers, followed by IT peripherals. Eventually, the council will form strategies for all aspects of commercial IT, according to the Air Force.

Once the strategies are approved and contracts are in place, Air Force users can order what they need, when they need it through Air Force Way, the service's online system for purchasing and tracking IT products.

SSG provides and sustains combat support information systems for the Air Force and Defense Department. The group procures IT products that are used by almost every organization on Air Force military bases worldwide, with more than 200,000 users and 3 million transactions daily.

John Gilligan, Air Force chief information officer, and Charlie Williams, the service's deputy assistant secretary for contracting, jointly selected SSG to lead the new council, which includes representatives from across the Air Force's major commands and air staff.

Ken Heitkamp, the newly appointed director of the commodity council, said SSG is the "ideal place to form the nucleus of the [council]...the IT, integration, standardization and enterprisewide mission support for the Air Force are found here at SSG."

By bringing together experts from across the Air Force to establish IT procurement strategies, the service can focus on its enterprise needs and reduce the unit cost of goods and services, Gilligan said.

"The Air Force currently buys IT at the organization level and does not take full advantage of the overall buying power of the Air Force," Williams said in a statement. "The strategies the commodity council develops will allow the Air Force to make better use of acquisition resources and fully leverage [its] buying power. The lessons learned and best practices of this council will be carried forward to other commodity councils that will be established by the Air Force for other commodities."

The council will begin daily operations in mid-June using collaboration tools through the Air Force portal and virtual meetings, according to service officials.


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