HomeNewsArticle Display

AFICC increases COVID-19 testing capabilities at 42 medical centers

82nd MDG laboratory BioFire test equipment

Tech. Sgt. Jonisha Gibson, 82nd Medical Group clinical laboratory noncommissioned officer in charge, inspects a FilmArray pouch at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, April 9, 2020. Thanks to the recent efforts of the Air Force Installation Contracting Center's 773rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, the Air Force has now increased it's COVID-19 testing capability to meet the demand of 7,000 tests a week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

82nd MDG laboratory BioFire test equipment

Tech. Sgt. Jonisha Gibson, 82nd Medical Group clinical laboratory noncommissioned officer in charge, prepares a sample for testing at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, April 9, 2020. Thanks to the recent efforts of the Air Force Installation Contracting Center's 773rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, the Air Force has now increased it's COVID-19 testing capability to meet the demand of 7,000 tests a week.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Pedro Tenorio)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – A new $33 million contract, awarded by the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 773rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, is increasing COVID-19 testing at 42 military treatment facilities.

The contract, awarded Sept. 30 to BioDefense LLC of Salt Lake City, enables the firm to triple its manufacturing capacity of coronavirus tests and ensures timely delivery of test panels to meet the Air Force demand of 7,000 tests per week.

"The execution of this contract was imperative for the Air Force to be able to increase the COVID-19 testing capability and minimize mission degradation across every major command," said Lt. Col. Ethel Seabrook-Hennessy, 773rd ESS commander. "This enterprise-wide contract vehicle will provide 42 military treatment facilities with respiratory panels, negating the need for each MTF to procure the panels via a separate contract, which drove greater efficiency and cost savings in the acquisition."

The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical Biological Radiological, Biological and Environmental, or JPEO-CBRNE, had an enterprise contract for the Department of Defense for single COVID-19 test kits compatible with the BioFire FilmArray and Torch analyzers. 

However, because of increased demand, the Air Force wasn’t able to receive the allotted single test quantity per week.  The Air Force Medical Service decided in August to pursue the acquisition for BioFire RP 2.1 Panels as a way to increase the testing capability needed until the JPEO contract and BioFire production of COVID-19 single-use tests increased the Air Force's allocation.

The 773rd ESS and AFICC team of Seabrook-Hennessy, Larry Conger, Eugene Ferguson, Kathryn Harsberger, Sylvia Kirwan, Kevin Meyer and Nathaniel Trulove, in support of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, processed a sole source justification and approval, solicited a proposal and went through detailed negotiations in a little more than two weeks to award the contract right before fiscal year 2020 ended. 

"It was a tremendous effort supporting the entire Air Force enterprise in the midst of this pandemic," said Tony Everidge, AFICC executive director.

The partnership and collaboration between AFMRA, AFICC and the 773rd ESS was paramount in ensuring this requirement was successfully executed, Seabrook-Hennessy said.

"As highlighted in AFICC’s Flight Plan, as change agents and mission-focused business leaders, our focus is on 'enhancing the effectiveness of our support and impact on our mission partners’ mission'" Seabrook-Hennessy said.  "As the medical subject matter experts, we relied heavily on AFMRA’s expertise to define the requirement and to determine the technical acceptability of the vendor’s proposal."

The 773rd ESS team's change agent mindset impressed Brig. Gen. Alice Treviño, AFICC commander. 

"As a result of their negotiation and mission-focused business leader prowess, COVID testing capacity is now increased by two new production lines," Treviño said. "This helps every single Airman."

The increased testing capacity could hopefully be a turning point in the fight against a global pandemic, Seabrook-Hennessy said. 

"The equipment procured on this contract will not only increase the COVID-19 testing capability throughout the Air Force, but it will also aid in the testing of 21 additional respiratory pathogens that will help clinicians detect and/or rule out other common causes of respiratory illnesses in about 45 minutes," Seabrook-Hennessy said. "Furthermore, this contract will aid the Department of Defense surveillance and screening strategy in-order to break the chain of disease transmission and reduce risk to the warfighter and DOD missions."