Eglin AFB Weapons Group awards COVID-19 contract in record time
By Allyson B. Crawford, AFLCMC Public Affairs
/ Published October 03, 2020
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Florida (AFLCMC) - The Air Force is all in when it comes to helping America battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus has claimed more than one million lives worldwide, including more than 200,000 Americans.
Moving fast during crisis is nothing new for the U.S. military but an Eglin AFB weapons group switching focus to award contracts for medical test arrays certainly is unique.
For project manager Maj. Madeleine Jensen and contracting officer Dana Alexander, July was a whirlwind.
The duo, along with a team of 15 other Airmen, worked 18-hour days to award a fully-definitized contract to Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) to establish and expand domestic production of rapid COVID tests.
From start to finish, the entire contracting process took 15 days.
The $24.3 million contract will mean eight million rapid tests per month by February 2021. The money comes from CARES Act funding.
Normally, a contract of this size would take about 75 days to award.
“For me at least, you join the Air Force hoping you can serve your country and help people,” explains Jensen. “We do that every day. But with a national crisis, being able to get into the fight and have a finger on the pulse of what is going on… I get a little bit choked up about it, being able to contribute like that.”
Alexander was an active duty member of the Air Force serving as a contracting officer for six years. She has spent a total of 19 years working on contracts for the Air Force.
“I love being part of something bigger than myself and this was definitely that,” says Alexander. “This made me want to work so hard to get it done. This was well worth the extra hours. This was above and beyond our regular duties and well worth it.”
For their leadership, Jensen and Alexander were awarded a commander’s coin from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Roper met with the two Airmen during a virtual ceremony.
“You guys really pitched in and done above-and-beyond work to help us get through COVID-19. I couldn’t be prouder of the talent and initiative we’ve got, and the fact that we did so well coming through a crisis where there isn’t a playbook,” explained Roper during the virtual ceremony. “The coin is the least the Air Force can do to say we’re really proud of the talent we have on our team.”
Commander’s coins are a way for senior leaders to show their appreciation for hard work via a tangible token.
Having the right people in the right places at start of the contract negotiation helped speed the process. The threshold for clearance was at Alexander’s level and policy experts and legal counsel were on board every step of the way. The group’s PEO, direct supervisors and division leads were ready to help when needed. The Eglin team meshed well with their counterparts at BD and that made things easier, too. Daily meetings enabled the team to move fast and kept everyone on the same page. This was important since the entire team worked remotely during the contract process.
“We’re experts in acquisitions - including rapid acquisitions - and I wasn’t surprised that LCMC was selected to head-up this effort,” explains Jensen. “Also, I can’t reiterate this enough, how unbelievably proud I am to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves but to be working with such amazing human beings. I wish I could work with this team for the rest of my career. That is how much I appreciate these people and love them. Especially Dana. She’s my friend and my mentor. I could not have done this without her.”