Story by Stephen Warns on 02/28/2019JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas Roger Westermeyer was on a teleconference discussing the Base of Operations Support contract for Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, when he encountered a familiar issue.
"One of the issues was the shortage of manpower for such a large and all-encompassing contract," said Westermeyer, director of enterprise sourcing support for the Air Force Installation Contracting Agency at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. "The issue reminded me of a conversation I had with Maj. Dan Finkelstein about crowdsourcing past performance, so I shot him an email. I also included Lt. Col. Karen Landale, 773rd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron commander, and Maj. Bill Muir of the 771st ESS, because I consider them to be the unofficial AFICA think tank. We bounced the idea around a bit but did not have the time or resources to fully pursue it."
It wasn't until Westermeyer commissioned an intern to draft a paper assessing the feasibility of utilizing a commercial mobile app to assist in contracting officer representative duties that the idea started to come in to focus. The COR app would help CORs conduct contract surveillance, particularly service contracts such as grounds maintenance. It would also allow for more accurate information gathering and improve contract performance while saving taxpayer dollars. The app would be applicable to any military base where the information is relevant.
Westermeyer submitted the idea to the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Office's "Call for Innovation" campaign which ran Jan. 1-31. The campaign received 122 submissions and more than 2,000 online votes. Westermeyer's idea was one of eight to advance to AFIMSC's inaugural "Innovation Rodeo" March 1 in San Antonio, where competitors with the top three ideas will receive $200,000 to get their ideas to prototype via AFWERX and tech accelerators. Lt. Col. Landale will present the idea on the team's behalf.
"Our senior leaders have committed to participating in weeklong events, where it's all about the Airmen and their ideas," said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC chief innovation officer. "We want to transition those ideas into the innovation ecosystem and AFWERX challenges so we can get those ideas into prototype and then the implementation phase across the I&MS enterprise."
Westermeyer lauds that approach.
"It helps solve the innovator's dilemma, where organizations are so focused on the current mission and issue of the day that they often don't take a step back to see if there is a better way to do something," he said.
Even if the idea isn't chosen, Westermeyer said AFICA plans to pursue the app's development and implementation.
"It just may take a little longer to get it implemented because of resource constraints," he said. "The idea has merit. I think we can use a commercially available app to reduce COR workload across the Air Force and improve mission performance for next to nothing in costs."
The other finalists were:
Installation Access Control of the Future / Artificial Intelligence Facial Recognition, submitted by Lt. Col. Carlos Hernandez, Air Force Security Forces Center, JBSA-Lackland and Col. Jeffrey York, 31st Mission Support Group commander, Aviano AB, Italy. Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander at Aviano, will present on behalf of York.
Virtual Visitor Control Center/ Visitor Kiosk, submitted 2nd Lt. DJ Smith, 502nd Communications Squadron, JBSA-Lackland, Steven Dews, 502nd SFS, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and Tech Sgt. Brian Lawley, 802nd SFS, JBSA-Lackland, and Senior Master Sgt. Alvin Arguello, AFSFC.
"What's Up" App, submitted by Col. Houston Cantwell, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., who will be accompanied by a USAFA cadet.
Supply Inventory Management System App, submitted by Master Sgt. Nicole Haun, 87th MSG, JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, who will be accompanied by two contractors.
Leverage existing Geospatial Information System AI learning for facility roof inspections, submitted by 2nd Lt. Alexander Bow, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron, JB-Lewis McChord, Washington, and Capt. Gregory Hege, Air Force Central Command, Al Udeid, Iraq. Hege is deployed, and Bow is partnering with 1st Lt. Tim Sobieski, 627th ABG, JBLM.
Self-adjusting wide area detection using unmanned ground vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles, submitted by John Shackell, AFSFC.
Emergency airfield lighting system auxiliary motor upgrade, submitted by Senior Airman Jordan Pitts, 319th CES, Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota.