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50 CONS time to shine: fiscal year closeout

50th Contracting Squadron

While the 50th Contracting Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, works all year long, the end of the fiscal year proves to be their time to shine. Squadrons tend to submit a surplus of requirements packages in the last month of the fiscal year to ensure they have what they need before their annual budget resets. (Courtesy graphic)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

When it comes to appropriated funding, the U.S. government operates on an annual cycle designed by Congress.

The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 – Sept. 30, so the end of year closeout references the ending of the current fiscal year and the transition to the next fiscal year. As the year comes to a close, the Federal Government works to ensure funds are used on mission essential goods and services before the funds expire.

This means the 50th Contracting Squadron works to ensure Schriever has everything it needs to continue the mission before the next fiscal year begins.

“Toward the end of the [fiscal] year, organizations loosen the purse strings and feel more comfortable spending,” said Tech. Sgt. Sean Holder, 50th CONS contracting officer. “This means the 50th Contracting [Squadron] is working overtime to get all the money obligated before 30 September.”

Most units have a budget designed to last the entire fiscal year so they can properly support their mission. This typically leads to a reserve of funds going into the last two quarters of the fiscal year. 

Holder, who analyzed contract spending and conducted Air Force wide data analysis as an Airman, said the difference in the amount of contracts awarded at the beginning or middle of the fiscal year versus the end of the fiscal year is significant.

 “Air Force wide, over 90% of yearly spending happens in the last three months of the fiscal year,” Holder said. “While contracting has steady requirements throughout the year, the end of the fiscal year is when we award the most contracts, by far.”

A successful closeout for yearly funding is when the 50th CONS obligates all the funding the Garrison has to spend. 

“At the end of the day, Airman all across the base need supplies and services to make the mission succeed, and if contracting can ensure no dollar is left behind, then it was a successful year” said Staff Sgt. Arron Riffle, 50th CONS contracting officer.

In order to ensure a requirement is awarded a contract before the end of the fiscal year, the 50th CONS sends out a memo to the base identifying the deadline for submitting a requirements package. 

“If they [don’t meet the cutoff], we do our best to leverage all of our contracting tools to turn the impossible into the possible,” Riffle said.

Since typical funding is only available for that fiscal year, units must ensure they get the funding obligated on a contract; otherwise their needs will have to wait until the next year’s funding is available.

“The uncertainty of an Oct. 1 budget and the reluctance to spend money until September adds stress and our mission partners [worry they] won’t receive their necessary goods or services,” Holder said.

Aside from contracting, the 21st Comptroller Squadron and the Schriever AFB Legal Office also play important roles in the closeout.

“Both units are absolutely crucial,” Riffle said. “You can’t write contracts without funding, and legal provides overwatch.”

The 50th CONS also credits what they’re able to accomplish to their mission partners.

“Nothing contracting does is done alone,” Holder said. “We work closely with our mission partners to understand their requirements and find the best way to get them what they need. For this to occur, we have to be in sync.”

While this time of year is typically extra busy for 50th CONS and 21st CPTS, COVID-19 added an extra challenge to the process. 

“We essentially lost the last few months of preparation time as we switched from traditional home station contracting to actively participating in a state-side contingency,” Riffle said. “Now, with the contingency efforts converting from a sprint to a marathon, the end of year closeout timelines are smaller than ever.” 

Despite these challenges, the 50th CONS is still executing their mission and is on track for a successful closeout.

 “Fortunately, I work with a squadron of amazing people and even with COVID-19, nothing has faltered their ability to execute the contracting mission,” Riffle said. “That only happens because individuals all across the squadron are spending late hours, weekends in the office and teleworking from home to ensure that happens.”

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