Get ready for increased custodial services

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- As of Thursday, custodial services in your work areas are increased. Refuse receptacles will be emptied, floors swept and mopped and carpets vacuumed once a week by our custodial contractor.

Some of you may ask, "Why we are increasing services during this very difficult time?" We seem to be pinching every penny, grounding planes and furloughing our US civilian employees.

The answer lies in three Department of Defense requirements: competition, strategic sourcing, and Air Force Common Output Levels of Service.

During subcommittee testimony on Capitol Hill in April 2012, Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Logistics testified that the Air Force COLS program is a method to use smarter management practices and institute higher standards.

"Right now, there is no easy way to calculate the risk that comes with budget cuts for many of our installation support services," she said in an article published in January. "Every fiscal year, senior leadership goes to Congress to discuss budget specifics. The goal is that in the future, senior leadership will be armed with AF COLS metrics and better able to communicate requirements and impacts of budget cuts. They'll be able to show exactly what that means to Airmen and families."

"It's [AF COLS]; a program that will standardize the delivery of installation support services so that Airmen and other customers will have common experiences and expectations from base to base", said Maj. Jennifer Phelps, AF COLS program manager at the Pentagon.

During the last three years, Ramstein has operated under a reduced level of service because funds were not available to operate at the Air Force-mandated level. These custodial services were voluntarily provided in-house by employees in the facilities.

In early 2012, a team was created to renew Ramstein's custodial contract. U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa strategic sourcing section paired the effort with Spangdahlem Air Base. The team compared contracts for the same duties by different companies and noticed a significant difference in pricing on both bases for the same services. It was also discovered there was a disparity in the services being required and received on both bases. Strategic sourcing allowed us to standardize the requirements in the contract and reduce the costs while also increasing the services provided to our base customers.

Ramstein and Spangdahlem are among of the first bases to combine custodial contracts. USAFE-AFAFRICA expects other bases to comply with AFCOLS as contracts expire.

By merging contracts, we were able to purchase our custodial services in bulk at a discounted price, while meeting the Air Force-level of service requirements. The cost savings were astonishing! The savings were so significant, we are now able to afford the services listed above at significant savings compared to previous years. This is a win-win as Team Ramstein and Spangdahlem receive more at a lower cost to taxpayers.