Contracting Officer 64P

Hello, and welcome back to this episode of Commission ed. So excited to have you and to investigate another career field. This one in particular is the 64 papa, 64 p contracting officer for the United States Air Force.


So, Colin, I think in a previous episode, you mentioned that there are two groups of people that everybody needs to be friends with if you’re going to be a success philosopher. One was finance and the other contracting. Why? Because finance, they budget the money, but it’s contracts that get the money spent.


Yeah, absolutely. So, good thing to know about these two career fields. They work very closely together, but they are separate for a very important reason, that is that money can get people into trouble very quickly. And if the person who controls the money is also the one who is spending it, bad things will tend to happen. And so the air force has been very wise in splitting those two abilities so that we’ve got the finance officer controlling the money, but it’s the contracting officer, which is the one that we’re talking about today, who is responsible for spending it. And we’re not talking about spending just the small amount in order to buy mres or pay for vehicles there on the base. We’re talking the entire gamut, very small purchases all the way up to multibillion dollar contracts.


Yeah. And this is a huge responsibility. And these officers are going to lead a team of airmen almost immediately, in addition to leading a team of airmen, they’re going to be interfacing with the highest ranking officers on any installation very early in their career. So a lot of high pressure, a lot of high visibility, a lot of no fail missions, because, as Colin mentioned, this is a really easy way to get fired as a commander, is to be loose with your money, and they really rely on their contracting and finance officers to make that happen. And contracting, that’s where the dollars actually go out the door. So there’s a lot of scrutiny, and they can’t mess it up.


Yeah, you mentioned they go out the door, Reed. That is a great way to think about this career field where finance is internal facing, setting up those budgets and allocations to execute the mission within the base. But contracting is external facing. They interface with the local government, the local population, or other external vendors that are going to provide services back to the air force in order to accomplish the mission.


And in order to do that, they’re going to be providing advice to senior officers. They have to be very clear on what the US government rules and regulations are, what local rules and regulations are, and they are going to be providing advice to senior leaders. So that they know how to effectively spend their money. In order to do that, there’s a couple of requirements. You have to have at least 24 credits worth of finance and economics and accounting and those sorts of courses in order for you to be qualified to be a contracting officer. We can provide more specific information in the details in the description below. We’ll provide some links for information on that. But in addition, you have a four week training course that you need to accomplish at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in order to become qualified as a contracting officer.


And in that four week training that they go through, contracting officers are going to learn about the far, which is the federal acquisition regulation, very large, very dense book that covers all the requirements in order to make sure that they are spending the money on behalf of the federal government in a way that is both legal, ethical, and moral.


You’re going to be leading a team of airmen almost immediately, all of which are qualified to do essentially the same job. That’s pretty different than all of the AFSCs that officers will fill, but this one in particular, everyone around you is going to be qualified to do essentially the same thing, but you’re the one with the authority and the responsibility to lead them to mission success.


Right? So not only are you going to get these skills of understanding the federal acquisition process, how to spend money, but you’re also going to gain that capability of being a leader of other people. And that skill set can be extremely valuable as you consider your exit from the Air Force, whether that’s after your four year initial commitment or later on, or later on, when you decide to leave the Air Force through separations or.


Retirement, no matter how long you stay in the Air Force as a contracting officer, it is almost certain that you’re going to deploy, because just like finance, wherever there’s operations, there has to be contractors making sure that that money is being spent appropriately. So you’re going to lead, you’re going to deploy, you’re going to be an airman through and through, and you’re going to be leading a really important mission that we have got to get right.


Absolutely. And in order to continue to develop your skills as that airman, the Air Force provides a huge number of opportunities for contracting officers to get additional experience. One great opportunity is known as UE or EWI, the education with industry, where you will spend some time working outside of the Air Force in some sort of corporation, learning about how business is done there, how they handle their money, so that you can bring that knowledge and information back into the Air Force and help us to accomplish our mission that much more effectively.


And all along the way, you’re going to be gaining a really valuable set of skills that can be employed not only in the Air Force, but outside if that’s what you choose. Bottom line, this is a really important career field that, again, not a lot of people know about. But, boy, it really matters that we know them, that Air Force officers understand their mission and that those professionals are developed in order to be able to execute our mission. Anything else?


Before we wrap up this week, I just want to say that the contracting officers that I’ve worked with, and there have been a few of them during my time in the Air Force, every single one of them has been incredibly bright, incredibly capable. They’ve also been very busy. This career field is not one for the faint of heart. If you want to be challenged, if you want to develop a skill set that is going to be incredibly valuable not only to the air force, but outside of it, this might be one that you want to look into.


Yeah, couldn’t agree more. And thanks to you for joining us this week. We’re really grateful for your viewership. Please join us in our heritage room on our website. We’d love to hear from you, our audience, at [email protected]. We’ve got links in the description to our podcast. We’d love to hear from you. And thanks for joining us. Today on commissioned.


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