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Air Force Contingency Contracting: Reachback and Other Opportunities for Improvement

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The Air Forces contracting career fields for both officers and enlisted personnel are under stress because of increased demands placed on them by deployments for contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Evidence of stress includes a deploy-to-dwell ratio of 11, which currently means that contracting personnel can expect to deploy for six months, return home for six months, and then deploy again a heavy reliance on the Air Force for contingency contracting positions, as indicated by the fact that 70 percent of the positions in the Joint Contracting Command Iraq Afghanistan JCC-IA1 are filled by Air Force contracting personnel the potential difficulty of retaining experienced, senior-level personnel in the career field, as indicated by a decrease in the average career length of enlisted personnel from over ten years in FY 2004 to under seven years in FY 2008, and a decline in the number of personnel in the journeymancraftsman cohort of personnel with 11 to 15 years of experience. One potential approach to decreasing deployment stress on the career field is to increase the use of reachback for some contracting functions. This means that tasks normally accomplished by deployed contingency contracting officers CCOs in theater are accomplished by personnel outside the theater of operations--perhaps in the continental United States CONUS. For example, legal review of a contract might be done by a specialist in CONUS instead of the CCO in theater. This could mean that fewer people need to be deployed or the workload of those deployed could be decreased. This report uses data from four sources--CCO after action reports AARs, focus groups, interviews with subject-matter experts, and purchasing data recorded in the Joint Contingency Contracting System JCCS--to examine what CCOs do and to better understand some of the challenges they face while accomplishing their mission.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis

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