• Steve Turkovich (left), a question and answer specialist with the white cell of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014, reviews the contracting process with U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Joseph Jones (right), a contracting officer with 509th Contracting Squadron out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo, Jan. 28 at the Mission Training Center on Fort Bliss.  The exercise brought together service members from all four military branches and civilian employees from around the world for the only joint contracting support exercise of its kind.  Photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth Pawlak.

    Making contracts - old school and new

    Steve Turkovich (left), a question and answer specialist with the white cell of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014, reviews the contracting process with U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Joseph Jones (right), a contracting officer with 509th...

  • Army Sgt 1st Class Samuel Agyapong (left), a contracting specialist with the Army Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Fisher (right) a contracting specialist with the 17th Contracting Squadron out of Goodfellow, Texas, share contracting support techniques with each other at during Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014. Photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth Pawlak

    Making contracts - old school and new

    Army Sgt 1st Class Samuel Agyapong (left), a contracting specialist with the Army Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Fisher (right) a contracting specialist with the 17th Contracting Squadron out of...

  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Barry Bredell (left) an operational contracting support specialist with the 56th Contracting Squadron at Luke Air Force, Ariz., and Army Maj. Katrina Gawlik, an operational contracting support specialist with the 414th Contracting Support Brigade of Vicenza, Italy, explain to a disgruntled contractor role-player on the phone as to why he didn't win an award.  This scenario and many more were part of the simulation exercise portion of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014 at the Mission Training Center on Fort Bliss from Jan 5-31.  Photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth Pawlak.

    Making contracts - old school and new

    Air Force Staff Sgt. Barry Bredell (left) an operational contracting support specialist with the 56th Contracting Squadron at Luke Air Force, Ariz., and Army Maj. Katrina Gawlik, an operational contracting support specialist with the 414th Contracting...

Military service members don't always have the luxury of electricity during their deployment, which can sometimes leave them without the use of computers or electronics.

For contracting specialists whose job revolves around order forms, contracts and memos, being able to work on a computer helps them be more efficient, but they still have a mission to complete when the power goes out. That is why the Regional Contingency Contracting teams of Operational Contract Support Joint Exercise 2014 focused on contract processing manually with pen and paper as well as digitally using computers and networks.

To simulate the multiple federal and civilian agencies involved, contracting specialists communicated with the white cell, the section of the joint exercise that managed the role-player agencies requesting or supplying contracts.

"We are here to facilitate the exercise and make sure it flows; so the RCCs have all of the information they need to procure the goods and services that the task forces need," said Army Lt. Col. Seth Blakeman, the deputy commander of the OCSJX-14 white cell.

The contracting process begins with the white cell as a simulated agency, like an engineer unit, in the earthquake scenario making a purchase request for supplies, such as concrete. The request is then given to each of the 16 regional contingency contracting teams to review.

"We identify which requests are services, which are construction and which are commodities, then divide them out to the teams to begin the contracting process," said Maj. Frank Mendoza, a contracting officer leading one of the RCC teams.

This is normally a very quick process, but when the teams work on paper forms, they have to fill in the forms by hand and deliver them, instead of completing and emailing an electronic document, said Army Staff Sgt. Tiffany Fields, contracting specialist with the 915th Contracting Support Battalion out of Baltimore, Md.

"Working on manual forms just means that the automated systems are not functional, but we still need to award contracts. We are not going to stop that process just because the computers are down," said Mendoza.

The RCC teams review the request using federal and Department of Defense guidelines to verify that all necessary documents are present and correct, so the request can be forwarded to the agencies in charge of the recovery effort to be verified. Once the purchase request is verified, the contract specialists are able to have the vendors provide the goods or services, then close out the contract.

After each contract is fulfilled, the RCC team moves on to the next task. With the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and all of the federal agencies in a joint environment, there are so many moving pieces that there is always more work to be done.

Page last updated Wed January 29th, 2014 at 00:30