18th CONS prepares for fiscal 2013 closeout
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- (Editor's note: This is the first article in a series about the 18th Contracting Squadron and fiscal year closeout.)
18th Contracting Squadron personnel are preparing for fiscal 2013 closeout.
Annual closeout runs from Sept. 1 through Oct. 1, but 18th CONS personnel prepare in advance to work with customers to get all their funding requirements within the timelines established by regulations.
"The government is required to obligate all of its annual appropriations, whether its tuition assistance funding, or any other funding appropriated by congress for a year, and we have to get that all spent by Sept. 30," said Master Sgt. Chad Obermiller, 18th CONS Commercial Acquisitions flight chief. "The purpose (of fiscal 2013 closeout) is to keep in accordance with annual appropriations. We're only allowed to have them for one year, so we have to use it by Sept. 30 because the money expires."
The closeout balances budget books and makes sure 18th CONS and 18th Comptroller Squadron personnel spend the money the 18th Wing is given during the fiscal year.
"We develop what we call the unfunded wish list and each group puts together a list of their top 10 to 15 items that hey, if funding falls, these are the things we want to get," Obermiller said.
Examples of items on this year's wish list are K-9 equipment for security forces, appliances for dormitories and off base residents, repairing a vehicle wash rack, furniture replacement for unaccompanied housing and much more.
"As far as our unfunded wish list, there's money no one knows about or its excess money. So if we prepare ahead for the unfunded list, it allows us to get things we normally wouldn't have a budget for to buy that we can execute this fiscal year," he added.
With the end of fiscal 2013 closeout coming up on Oct. 1, 18th CONS is working toward a soft close, occurring Sept. 20.
"A soft close is where we try to obligate all the tangible real money we actually have," Obermiller said. "Contracting has to have all contracts that could possibly be awarded (by Sept. 20). This allows finance to see, with 10 days (left during closeout), what is left in the budget."
Closeouts bring many obstacles to 18th CONS. Last year, 18th CONS spent more than $15 million in the month of September alone, and as a wing, the 18th Wing spent more than $60 million during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012.
"This is our busiest time of the year. Last year we spent $20 million in my flight alone," Obermiller said. "We get bombarded and the (longer) it takes (Congress) to pass a budget, the later in life we're going to be busy. You give me (a contract) in October, I have 365 days to buy it, but you give it to me Sept. 1 and I have 30 days, I'm out of time."
Last year, Kadena bought new pews for the chapel and upgraded the chapel sound system, bought dorm furniture and new equipment for the dog park with extra funds. Obermiller added that even though this time is busy, 18th CONS works with their customers the best they can and establishes cut off timelines to allow them time to work everything.