Air Force creates new acquisition office

Group has broad purchasing mission and a focus on small businesses

The Air Force has launched a new division, headquartered at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, for strategic acquisition of common goods and services. The Enterprise Sourcing Group (ESG) aims to save up to $2.3 billion over the next years, and is part of broader Defense Department efforts toward efficiency and decreased overhead spending, the service said.

“We will be saving money and manpower by approaching installation contracting from a strategic perspective,” said Gen. Donald Hoffman, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, at the activation ceremony, according to a report from Air Force Materiel Command. The office, opened Oct. 28, fits into the overall drive to reduce government expenditures.

The new unit is will try to maximize the use of small business as it works to improve Air Force contracting, purchasing and requirements processes across the service’s 70 installations.Its purchasing responsibilities encompass computers and other technology, and other goods and services.

“We will not lose sight of small business; that’s been my pledge and my challenge to the new group, to motivate, stimulate and encourage small business,” Hoffman said.

The ESG will include a small business office, as well as a business support squadron and three enterprise sourcing squadrons.

The group will be led by director Mario Troncoso, who told GovExec that ESG is creating efficiencies across the entire Air Force and also improving transparency.

“Centrally procuring gives us good control. We can do continuous improvement cycles and re-look at these things while at the same time being transparent to taxpayers and our government,” Troncoso said.

In addition to the small business office and support squadrons, the ESG will comprise about 400 contracting officials, six commodity councils to manage acquisition, and satellite offices in San Antonio, Texas; Gunter Air Force Station, Ala.; Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; and Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Plans for a strategic purchasing group initially were drawn up in 2007 and were to include five regional strategic sourcing contracting centers, but those plans dissolved in the economic downturn.

According to the published reports, the Air Force stands to save an estimated 15 percent on common goods and services by leveraging purchasing power, standardizing requirements and eliminating redundant contracting efforts. Currently, domestic Air Force bases spend about $10 billion on commodities and services every year, and it is expected that ESG will be managing around half that amount within five years.

“What we’re doing is transformational in nature,” Troncoso said. “As we implement strategic sourcing, we’re incorporating best practices from industry while also using some of the best individuals in the Air Force and industry to achieve efficiencies.”

The work has already begun. So far, awards for centralized procurements for desktop computers are under way by the ESG’s Information Technology Council, and the Force Protection Council is issuing contracts for security personnel gear and equipment. Purchasing plans are also in progress for office supplies, furniture and medical services.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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