Three industrious civilian members of the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) 30th Contracting Squadron (30 CONS), which is based at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, managed to save an astounding $1 billion over a seven-year period.

From January 2012 to January 2019, Darlene Thompson, a contract specialist; Stephen Schultz, a property specialist; and Joseph Gagnon, the team leader of the squadron’s property administration; operated under the motto “reduce, reuse, and recycle” when it came to purchasing equipment and materiel for the base’s needs.

“The majority of cost savings comes from re-utilizing assets from contract to contract,” said Thompson. “When one contract is ending, another contract on base may be beginning and able to use those parts and equipment. We re-utilize the materials under another contract, and they don’t have to re-procure them.”

Thompson added the team of three focused much of their endeavors on recycling. “We try to re-utilize to the base populous through the Vandenberg recycling center. As much as possible, we try to go there so base agencies can use the furniture,” said the contract specialist.

But their extraordinary achievement wouldn’t be possible without teamwork. “What has benefited us is the way we work together,” added Thompson. “Our team structure is different from most, and when we have our meetings, everything we share is something we can use, and we can jump into each other’s seat and contracts and take over when we need help. It’s been great that the team works cohesively.”

The team predominantly concentrated its efforts on saving equipment from being thrown away each time a furnished property changed contractors. Previously, the standard operating procedure was to just dispose of the equipment and purchase new. Given the sensitive nature of most of the contracts, the Air Force didn’t disclose details.

“We always strive to find easier, faster ways to get our jobs done without cutting out parts,” added Thompson. “The metrics and the tools we have used help us to rely on our info so we aren’t duplicating efforts.”

In 2014, the USAF launched a campaign, dubbed “Every Dollar Counts” to save funds and be more efficient with operating costs. With the cost of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ranging $94-to-$124 million depending on the variant, it isn’t hard to trace the incentive behind the savings program. One thing is certain: the competition for the employee of the year in the USAF would be one-sided.


This article was written by Stavros Atlamazoglou

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spc. 3rd Class Benjamin F. Davella III