by Capt. Jason McCree
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
4/14/2008 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Contracting officers recently
leveraged the benefits of technology to save $395,000 for the Air Force at a
Southwest Asia air base.
Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron used electronic
reverse auctioning or e-RA to save the Air Force hundreds of thousands of
Reverse auctioning is an online real-time bidding event between a buying
organization and a group of suppliers. The buying organization, in this case
the Air Force, posted its need for generators on a specially e-RA-designed
Web site, and the suppliers bid the prices down to win the business.
"When the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron had a requirement to
purchase 29 backup generators here, we identified this as a candidate for
e-RA," said Maj. Tim Hawkins, the 386th ECONS commander. "This was a great
candidate for e-RA because the generators were specifiable, there was plenty
of competition for the contract, and the estimated value of the procurement
was significant -- these are all attributes necessary for a successful
"After contracting officers solicited proposals from several companies, the
lowest bid received was about $2 million," Maj. Hawkins said. "Often, the
government will award a competed contract based on initial pricing received
-- not this time."
The contracting squadron worked with an e-RA service provider to conduct the
online auction. The suppliers entered their bids for the generators during
the e-RA, and after 278 bids during six hours, the price was bid down to
$1.5 million dollars. This reduced the price enough to save the Air Force
Capt. Lisa Gambrel, a 386th ECONS contracting officer, solicited the
proposals from the competing companies and watched the online auction unfold
from Southwest Asia, while Major Hawkins watched it in the U.S. while on
"Since it was online, I could view it from the hotel I was staying in," said
Major Hawkins, who researched e-RA in doctoral studies. "It was great
watching the bidding process unfold."
"Conducting this process online gave each company the opportunity see what
they were up against as they bid against their competition. It gave them a
chance to sharpen their pencils," Captain Gambrel said. "They had to come
ready to compete, but it was that competition that led to big savings for
the Air Force."
Major Hawkins said, they were the first to conduct an e-RA in the deployed
environment, but it should be continued across the Air Force, at home and
downrange, to save additional dollars.
"I hope we can further leverage e-RAs to get the biggest bang for our buck,"
he said. "Our taxpayers deserve it, and our Air Force needs the savings to
fund modernization. Not all supplies and services are appropriate for e-RA
sourcing, but by ignoring e-RAs, we are certainly leaving a lot of money on