WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force’s Category Management Council met Aug. 10 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to discuss progress and analysis of the program.
The council meets every quarter but has not had an in-person session in 18 months due to COVID-19 restrictions. Although the pandemic disrupted quite a few things, the council needed to continue on with its business.
“The Air Force mission did not cease because of COVID-19 and neither did the need to reduce installation costs to obtain more mission readiness,” said Roger Westermeyer, director of the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s Enterprise Solutions Support.
After migrating over to virtual meetings, progress and participation actually increased as more individuals provided input, council leaders said.
Eighteen members, including Richard Lombardi, Air Force deputy chief management officer, and Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for Contracting, gathered at Wright-Patterson AFB to assess each area of Category Management while also addressing challenges. At the same time, over 40 people tuned in virtually.
Before COVID-19, these meetings were hosted in different states because council members are from all over the country. Advisers and officials from Air Force Sustainment Center, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, the Secretary of the Air Force office and other agencies provide support to the council as well.
The Category Management Council ensures the Air Force is executing a disciplined, data-driven process for strategic cost management. It is the principal forum for establishing strategic direction and implementation of the Air Force Category Management program.
“The council continued to meet to ensure progress was being made implementing the program and its objectives,” Westermeyer said.
Lombardi has been the Air Force Category Management accountable official since June 2017, when the council was formed. Since then, he’s appointed managers in different areas such as information technology, professional services, security and protection, facilities and construction, industrial products and services, and transportation and logistics services.
Each lead has an obligation to ensure coordination of their program, report progress back to Lombardi and manage category costs.
This alignment not only creates more opportunities for the Air Force, but it also supports small businesses and builds stronger relationships with industry.
“We need to bake category management into how we conduct Air Force business,” Lombardi said.
Since Category Management’s implementation, the program has improved the strategic nature of Air Force acquisitions, reduced contract duplication and saved over $2.1 billion dating back to 2016, officials said.
Specific Air Force savings include:
- Fire emergency services personal-protective equipment ensemble – $2.41 million (15%) over three years
- Nonfire-resistant combat shirt – $1.89 million (36%) over four years
- Office supplies – $13.2 million (13%) over one year
- Training and qualification targets – $118,000 (21%) over three years
- Client computing solutions – $299.21 million (33%) over four years
- Executive office and conference furniture – $5.6 million (12%) over three years
- Fire emergency services personal-protective equipment (care and maintenance services) – $379,000 (47%) over three years
- Seating – $199,000 (16%) over one year
- Carpet – $390,000 (18%) over three years
- Dorm bedding and mattresses – $1.82 million (35%) over three years
- Maintenance, repair facility and supplies – $5.14 million (26%) over one year
- Chemical-biological boots – $236,000 (10%) over four years
“The Air Force has exceeded small business goals every year since Category Management implementation,” Westermeyer said. “The things the council is working on are having an impact across the entire Air Force.”
The Air Force Category Management program was created in 2014 as an industry best practice to most efficiently and effectively manage common goods and services through assignment of cost ownership and development of business intelligence to maximize capability per dollar spent.