MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. —
The United States Air Force’s spending budget for the fiscal year of 2022 was 156.3 billion dollars. With such a tremendous amount of money and countless responsibilities to fulfill, the Air Force needs well-trained officials to ethically and effectively use this money for the betterment of the Air Force. By earning their Unlimited Warrant, Sara Chesser, construction flight chief, Carlan Taft, plans and programs flight chief, and Nikole Braddy, services flight chief with the 5th Contracting Squadron, can procure goods, services, and construction assets with no limits on the dollar amount.
“The Unlimited Warrant is not just getting to sign contracts for a certain dollar amount,” said Braddy. “It’s a true obligation that we’re ethically spending taxpayer dollars and doing so legally.”
The course, called the Contracting Officers Study Group, is a 10-week commitment where the contracting officers must study regulations, supplements and processes, as well as participate in scenarios to apply the knowledge they’ve learned. The warrant must be earned by contracting officers within one year of obtaining the GS-13 position and requires a bachelor’s degree, a senior level endorsement and an Air Force level board.
“Study early, study often and take it seriously,” said Taft. “Power through it and in the end, you and everyone else will see the benefits of earning the Unlimited Warrant.”
“I would say it was probably the most humbling experience in my career, but then it was also the most rewarding experience when it was over.” added Chesser.
The Unlimited Warrant capability allows contracting officers to handle actions in-house, alleviating the need to work through a third-party agency and avoid paying a premium for their support. This in turn puts money back into the Air Force to continue work like infrastructure on base.
Contracting officers like Taft, Chesser and Braddy play an integral role in the betterment of Team Minot’s Airmen as well as the surrounding community. The contracting officers often contract to local companies, providing jobs and support to the surrounding area and serve as mentors and leaders to prospective warrant holders.
“Our job is not just to spend money but also help grow our Airmen and our other civilians to be future warrant holders, whether it be a limited amount or unlimited,” said Braddy.
“We have so many new folks and that’s definitely going to be critical to get them that mentorship and training so they can go on and do bigger and better things,” added Taft.
Due to the short construction season available in Minot, Chesser and the construction flight benefit from her Unlimited Warrant capability by reducing the time and costs of projects, allowing them to work as quickly and effectively as possible during their short window of opportunity.
“We do a lot of prep work in the winter so that in the summer, we can get all the construction stuff done to keep Minot Air Force Base going year-round,” said Chesser.
Braddy and the services flight provide things like the public school bus contract, waste management, grounds maintenance and other essential support facilities that improve the morale of the base.
Taft along with the Plans and Programs flight manage the government purchasing card program, allowing individual squadrons and shops the ability to purchase mission essential items such as cold-weather equipment, as well as holding the contractors responsible through quality assurance.
“We have folks out there to go out and check on them every once in a while and make sure that they are absolutely doing what it is that they said they were going to do and what we paid them to do,” said Taft.
The overwhelming responsibility of spending Air Force funds legally and effectively for Minot Air Force Base lies primarily with the 5th Contracting Squadron. Professionals like Chesser, Braddy and Taft pursued that responsibility and put in the countless hours of work to ensure the lives of Team Minot’s Airmen and families are always improved.