Developing contract compliance as a core competency

  • Published
  • By Col. Chris Nowland
  • 71st Flying Training Wing commander
Holy buckets, it's hot. Summer is in full bloom and our team is back together. As we reconstitute our mission, take your time and execute safely. We cannot afford for you to get hurt. 

Enjoy executing the mission, but drink plenty of water and be safe. Your leadership is extremely proud of how professionally Team Vance is handling the day to day challenges of reconstituting our mission. Keep pressing, improving and working together to make Vance better. 

Last week I shared with you my four goals for the Wing and explained in some detail how we will approach mission execution. This week I want to explore the goal of establishing an organization to effectively develop contract compliance as a core competency. 

Realize that this goal does not mean our contractors are doing a poor job, or are not part of the team. On the contrary, making contract compliance a core competency is intended to reduce friction and help commanders understand how their units are performing. 

There are numerous examples of asking our contractors to perform functions not in the contract. We cannot afford to continue making that mistake. It increases friction and eats up valuable time as we figure out what can and cannot be done. 

The reality is the entire Air Force is more dependent than ever on contracting partners to accomplish the mission. Teaming and partnering with contractors has always been important to Team Vance's success. Effectively managing contracts, whether one or multiple, is a core competency critical to our capabilities as an Air Force. 

A recent development here in achieving that core competency was selecting Lt. Col. William Browne, the former director of operations for the 25th Flying Training Squadron, to head up a new organization we will call QAV. 

I selected Colonel Browne because he is a team builder that will drive the changes in our organization, changes in training and changes in processes we need to better support our mission of training pilots. 

The work stoppage highlighted some challenges and opportunities in our contract compliance goal. For example, we need more people in some critical areas. 

Our contracting office is very short-staffed. They received assistance during the labor dispute, but we cannot keep those augmentees forever. 

We need to make our processes of contract modifications and tracking of actions taken, both locally and at the headquarters level, more efficient and transparent. A step in that direction includes launching Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century initiatives -- we will take that step very soon. 

Another part of our improvement arsenal is the valuable contributions of our quality assurance evaluators - true front-line professionals in monitoring our contractors. They really proved their worth during the work stoppage. They are dedicated teammates. I recently visited an Air Combat Command unit that will help us improve our QAEs training. They deserve the best so they can lead the Wing in continuous improvement. 

As always, Team Vance will be breaking new ground. We're going to give the Air Force a new way to implement contract compliance. Developing QAE processes and communication lines that cross from maintenance to services will be challenging. But developing new tools that commanders can use to better monitor contract compliance will generate a better product in the end. 

Sun Tzu, author of "The Art of War," said, "Opportunities multiply as they are seized." During this long hot summer, expect to be busy multiplying our opportunities.