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Home : News : Commentaries : Display
NEWS | Jan. 17, 2018

An “Outsider’s” perspective

By Air Force Capt. Matt Ruden 628th Contracting Squadron

Have you ever asked yourself what the contracting functional community actually does on a day-to-day basis? As a program manager in a previous assignment, I often found myself searching for the answer to this question. Coming from both a different career field and major command, I have been given the opportunity to broaden my career at the 628th Contracting Squadron and provide you with a different perspective on base-level contracting.

Previously, I worked in a system program office where major systems, such as aircraft, were procured via integrated product teams made up of program managers, contracting officers, avionics engineers, test engineers, configuration managers, logisticians and other functional communities. My role was to facilitate the work of all functional experts on my team while simultaneously having a fundamental awareness of those functions.

Currently, my role is to be the functional expert which gives me a newfound appreciation for the mission it executes within the Air Force. Contracting is more involved than just buying “stuff.” We are the business leaders on base who harmonize requirements with solutions through effective and efficient processes. These processes can get extremely complex due to required federal acquisition regulations. Imagine every time you went to buy a new TV you had to devise a plan for how you were going to buy your new TV, list the models you looked at, their prices and the individual vendors, document conversations with salesmen, detail your rationale for why you chose the particular TV, and then you must keep this information for 10 years for auditing purposes. Then, imagine doing this hundreds of times in a year. In 2017, 628 CONS executed 984 contract actions valued at $74 million.

Because contracting harmonizes requirements with solutions, I found the top level processes to be very similar to how the C-17 mission is executed at Joint Base Charleston. For example, C-17 Special Airlift Assignment Missions (SAAM) deal with specific cargo, for a specific user, from and to a specific place.  The user who requests a particular asset (C-17/C-5/KC-10/KC-135/Commercial carrier) bases that decision on the size and amount of the cargo they want to move. Much like contracting, these types of specific details (what, where, who, etc.) are critical to acquiring a commodity, a service or construction work needed on base. Further, C-17 airlift missions utilize Tanker and Airlift Control Center (TACC) to assign a wing a mission based on the wing’s Commanders Apportionment and Allocation Process (CAAP).  The CAAP is presented as a ratio of how many crews are actively tasked with a mission versus how many crews the wing should be able to provide, based on operational tempo, unit leave policies, crew qualifications, deployment obligations, etc.  So, in fewer words, the CAAP is how many crews are “on the road” versus the total capacity of crews a wing is able to provide to TACC for fulfilling missions. Similarly, contracting will look for contractors who are able to “execute the mission” based on the contractor’s performance history, capacity to do the work, qualifications, etc. (Special thanks to Air Force Capt. Jeff Mullins for his airlift expertise).

The 628th CONS has 67 mission partners at Joint Base Charleston. We help these requirement owners execute their missions by providing acquisition support and business advice. You are welcome to contact the 628th CONS for business advice at any time at (843) 963-5155.

Additionally, some important dates to keep in mind for fiscal year 2018 are listed below:

April 2018 – Fiscal Year 18 Close-out Plan distributed

1 May 18 – Cut off for submitting furniture requirements

1 June 18 – Construction, formal RFP package to CONS (not SABER or IDIQ)


To register for training, please contact Mr. Victor McKinnon at

8 March 18 – Training, CR #3, 0930

5 April 18 – Training, CR #3, 0930