Mission Monday: Acquisition Research & Development Support

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OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – It’s Mission Monday. Meet Alan Brady, a flight chief with the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 774th Enterprise Sourcing Squadron here.

Brady and the 774th ESS team serves the Department of Defense’s research community to advance state-of-the-art, highly specialized technical focus areas from microelectronics to C5ISR to hypersonics to counter-unmanned aerial systems and beyond by providing research and analysis services.

“We use our $48 billion multiple-award contract to develop and provide scientific and technical information deliverables to information analysis centers in the Defense Technical Information Center,” he said. “Those deliverables are available to any U.S. government entity.”

We asked Brady, a third-generation Nebraskan and Airman dating back to World War II’s Army Air Forces, to tell us more about himself and the work he does for the DOD. 

What do you love about your job? 
There are two things that I love about my job -- developing the next generation of contracting professionals and helping our partners accomplish their missions. In my opinion, these go hand-in-hand. I want to make sure that developing contracting officers have a workload matched to their confidence and competence. Our flight empowers journeyman contract specialists and exposes them to a variety of mentors and coaches which in turn encourages them to develop their dexterity and broaden their perspective. I want my folks to have fun in this career field! I’m fortunate to have four awesome leaders as my contracting officer coaches. They’re not only making hard contracting decisions but teaching our journeymen all of their good habits.

I love watching my team learn and grow by thinking, strategizing and not just developing a solution, but the best solution to solve our mission partners’ complex contracting issues. Empowered, confident and competent contracting officers accomplish the mission.

When it comes to your job, what keeps you motivated? 
I have the best job! I’m fortunate in the culture created by my leadership here at the 774th ESS as well as Headquarters AFICC and the DOD Information Analysis Centers Program Management Office which encourages critical thinking to develop and use responsive contracting techniques to help us get to “yes.” 

This culture allows us to leverage the flexibilities within our regulations to meet our mission partners’ needs every day. Watching my team flourish in this culture is what motivates me to come into the office every day.

Why are you and your team important to the Air Force/Space Force enterprise/your customers? 
I want to point out, there’s not a single customer we have that is required to use us. They all have their own local contracting support. With that said, we developed a very efficient and effective model for source selections that hires the best contractors and, post-award, allows rapid execution for critical R&D projects. 

I started here in 2005 when there was a team of just seven. We are now a squadron of 50 folks supporting over 750 mission partners in 500 locations, 39 states and 10 countries. That growth speaks to how important the 774th ESS is to our partners and their R&D missions.

Describe a project/event you and your team worked on recently that gave you a great sense of accomplishment: 
Over the past year, my team successfully defended a Government Accounting Office protest that took on our source selection model, navigated a Procurement Integrity Act violation, handled a data rights dispute and received approval at the highest levels of Air Force Acquisition for a $20 billion justification and approval. 

While those things are significant events in our career field, and although I am very proud of those accomplishments, my truest sense of pride is found in developing my team. Using the squadron’s tried-and-true warrant prep technique, my flight’s newest unlimited contracting officer aced her warrant board. My newest limited contracting officer displayed his leadership by developing and providing squadron training on tough topics. Walking out on to the floor and seeing my journeymen teaching my newest contract specialists the principles of contracting and good habits is my philosophy of empowerment in action. These are my greatest accomplishments.

How does what you do support AFIMSC’s strategic priorities? 
Our squadron motto is “Pursuing Excellence” which is an obvious fit with AFIMSC’s strategic priorities. This isn’t just something we say, it’s something we do every day. Our journey to excellence starts with the top of our leadership, with our director and our deputy director, then flows down to our most junior contract specialists. 

My flight is completely focused on executing successful source selections and on proactive contract administration to help our partners meet the mission. We are taking the lead in improving our contract management by improving our program management deliverables, taking an active role in quarterly program management reviews and leaning forward on our most complex contract administration issues. I have an excellent team of leaders in buying and administration who are often lauded by our mission partners for their exceptional customer support. My team doesn’t stop until they reach the best solution which, in my opinion, is the epitome of pursuing excellence.

Is there anything else you’d like to add which might help people understand the importance of what you do for the Department of the Air Force? 
I believe the 774th ESS fulfills a special niche for the DOD; previously, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt referred to our mission as supporting operational research and development. Many times, our contracts have enabled our mission partners to go from a napkin sketch idea to a fielded prototype in as little as 18 months. We hear from our partners that if they needed R&D fast today, that they’ll need it faster tomorrow and they turn to our vehicles to help them do that. I’m excited and proud that we get to be a small part of that mission execution and support the Warfighter.