Armament Directorate awards COVID-19 testing contract in record time

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Moving fast during crisis is nothing new for the U.S. military but for Armament Directorate personnel switching focus to award contracts for medical test arrays certainly is unique.

For project manager, Maj. Madeleine Jensen and contracting officer Dana Alexander, July was a whirlwind.

The duo, along with a team of 15 other Airmen, worked 18-hour days to award a fully-definitized contract to Becton, Dickinson and Company to establish and expand domestic production of rapid COVID tests.

From start to finish, the entire contracting process took 15 days.

The $24.3 million contract will mean eight million rapid tests per month by February 2021. The money comes from CARES Act funding.

Normally, a contract of this size would take about 75 days to award.  

“You join the Air Force hoping you can serve your country and help people,” explains Jensen. “We do that every day.  With a national crisis, being able to get into the fight and have a finger on the pulse of what is going on… I get a little bit choked up about it, being able to contribute like that.”

For their leadership, Jensen and Alexander received a commander’s coin from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Roper met with the two Airmen during a virtual ceremony.

“You guys really pitched in and done above-and-beyond work to help us get through COVID-19. I couldn’t be prouder of the talent and initiative we’ve got, and the fact we did so well coming through a crisis where there isn’t a playbook,” explained Roper during the virtual ceremony. “The coin is the least the Air Force can do to say we’re really proud of the talent we have on our team.”

Having the right people in the right places at start of the contract negotiation helped speed the process. The threshold for clearance was at Alexander’s level and policy experts and legal counsel were on board every step of the way. Daily meetings enabled the team to move fast and kept everyone on the same page. This was important since the entire team worked remotely during the contract process.

“I love being part of something bigger than myself and this was definitely that,” says Alexander. “This made me want to work so hard to get it done. This was well worth the extra hours. This was above and beyond our regular duties and well worth it.”