JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Two Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center units won Gears of Government awards recently for delivering mission results, customer service and accountable stewardship.
The Air Force Category Management Program, part of the Air Force Installation Contracting Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Joint Explosive Ordnance Technology Division at Indian Head, Maryland, were honored as Department of the Air Force winners. The category management team now goes on to compete as the Air Force nominee at Department of Defense-level competition.
The award, administered by the Office of Management and Budget, recognizes teams across the federal workforce whose dedication supports key delivery outcomes for the American people.
“The cool thing about this award is that it’s a federal-level award and it’s about government performance,” said Roger Westermeyer, director of enterprise solutions support for AFICC. “One of our main goals with the Air Force Category Management Program is improving performance. Our program is all about doing things more effectively and efficiently, and we solve hard Air Force problems.”
The program’s application of business acumen, innovation and principles has saved the Air Force $2.1 billion during the past four years, including $1 billion since 2019. Among notable accomplishments were increasing interoperability and reducing land mobile radio infrastructure and equipment across major commands to enhance first-responder effectiveness in emergency situations. It’s projected to save $300 million over 10 years.
“In 2018, category 5 Hurricane Michael wiped out Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, which is under Air Combat Command, and the leadership couldn’t talk on LMRs to Eglin Air Force Base, which is only 50 miles away, because Eglin is under Air Force Materiel Command,” Westermeyer said. “We’re actually working to have interoperability for one LMR network across the Air Force at least across the continental United States and common pieces of equipment so we can talk across MAJCOMs and save a lot of money by buying less things than we need.
“The other thing we really looked at is emerging technologies,” he added. “In the course of doing that project, we found out there’s actually an app you can add to your phone that does the same thing as an LMR … we’re really exploring all options.”
AFCEC’s Joint EOD Technology Division is responsible for testing and publishing joint service EOD procedures, conducting research, development, and test and evaluation for emergent equipment technologies and concepts to support the joint force.
“This award is a testament to the critical work of our JEOD Technology Division team,” said Maj. Patrick Kucera, joint EOD technology division and Air Force officer in charge for the EOD Military Technical Acceptance Board. “This nomination would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the determination, capability to innovate and subject matter expertise of our JEOD team.”
From July 2019 through June 2020, the division directed more than 70 developmental material solution efforts among more than 20 defense contractors, 10 program managers and three major development teams. The team identified 56 critical military capability challenges and developed solutions to maintain readiness.
During that period, the division found a solution to a long-standing challenge of disposing of insensitive munitions.
The team repurposed an old explosive breaching tool and developed a 3-D print file for EOD forces to share across the enterprise.
The team also solved a critical design flaw for the EOD Medium Size Robotics program with a $250 modification, enhancing the capabilities of 300 robots in the $43 million program and it led a joint brain health initiative with 66 experts to address the effects of blast exposure from extensive combat and training events.
Finally, the joint service team delivered an innovative response to a Congressional request concerning streamline technology acquisitions by partnering with Air Force Special Operations Command. By employing its research and development power, the team used special operations testing and capacity to accelerate new technology development and acquisitions. So far, four solutions have started the transfer process, saving $2 million and speeding up delivery by more than seven years.