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Aircraft maintenance public-private competition begins

The Air Force announced late last month that it will conduct a formal public-private competition to determine the most cost-effective way of conducting aircraft maintenance at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The study will eventually seek proposals from civilian contractors, as well as a bid from a team representing U.S. government civilian employees.

Brigadier Gen. William Rew, 57th Wing commander, said a total of 792 Defense Department Airmen and Civil Service employees of the 57th Maintenance Group would be affected.

General Rew said the contractor or government proposal that wins the effort will be determined in 18 months. The transition to the new organization is estimated to occur four to six months immediately following the award. That transition period will be documented in the winning proposal.

Of the 792 affected, 11 are officers, 709 are enlisted Airmen and 72 are civilians.

"We are aware of the uncertainty this competition will cause and are taking every possible step to ease our people through this transition," General Rew said. "The assignment process will be locally managed in light of the future transition to the new organization. Complete review of each position will be accomplished and many positions will be frozen during the competitive process."

General Rew said these actions "will ensure a stable work force during the competitive effort," adding that Airmen whose positions were frozen will be identified for assignment as the competition nears completion.

"Exceptions to the assignment freeze will be worked on a case-by-case basis," he added. Any member of the 57 MXG can address questions to their respective squadron commander," General Rew said.

"For our Civil Service employees, Federal regulations require that they be given the right of first refusal for employment openings to positions for which they qualify," General Rew said. "Civilian employees will also have the option of applying for other Civil Service jobs at Nellis or other bases in the U.S. for which they qualify," he added.

General Rew said that Air Force policy is to rely on the private sector for needed commercial services. "To ensure that the American people receive maximum value for their tax dollars, commercial activities should be subject to the forces of competition," he said.

The standard competition will be conducted in compliance with Air Force Instruction 38-203, Commercial Activities Program. The instruction implements the Office of Management and Budget A-76 circular, Performance of Commercial Activities.

Captain Daniel Boeh, a Nellis contracting officer, said that a solicitation to prospective service providers will be issued at a later date. Responses to the solicitation will define the service provider's plan for maintaining the Nellis fleet that is so critical to meet the flying mission and identify the costs for the provider's level of effort.

"Prospective private sector and public reimbursable service providers are encouraged to respond to the solicitation," Capt. Boeh said.

Due to the size of the maintenance function at Nellis AFB and the number of people involved, Capt Boeh said Air Force Headquarters has granted a waiver to extend the normal 12-month time limit to 18 months.

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