By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Fiscal year 2012 ended with Little Rock balancing every cent of the 19th Airlift Wing’s $106 million annual budget spent to employ Air Mobility Command’s busiest base.
September marks the end of a season, and while a lot of people take to the outdoors to enjoy the cooler autumn air, don their cleats and trample leaves of grass while playing football or futbol, enjoy watching the sunrise later in the mornings and set earlier in the evenings, or delight in any number of pleasures the turning of the seasons brings, there’s another end of a season going on at the base, and a large contingent of Airmen, civilian and military, are working around the clock to meet goals and deadlines. The end of September marks the end of the fiscal year, and Team Little Rock has been working feverishly for the last several weeks to ensure the base is fiscally prepared for the upcoming year.
The fiscal year officially ends September 30 of each year, but Air Force mandated a September 20 closeout for all bases as a main push to allow concentration on awarding construction project funding and other fallout.
“Thanks to an absolute team effort from all our unit commanders, Government purchase card holders, resource advisors, legal, and 19th Contracting Squadron mates made possible the success achieved on September 20 closeout,” said Lt. Col. Eric Upton, 19th Comptroller Squadron commander.
Every office has their duties at the end of the fiscal year, but perhaps none are more hard-pressed than the comptroller or contracting offices. While most offices are scrambling on how to spend their fallout funds or held-over dollars from the year, these two offices are virtually flooded with tasks, responsibilities, phone calls and paperwork. Capt. Peter Eshenour, 19th CPTS financial analyst flight commander, said for his office, working through the end of the fiscal year is like standing under an enormous running faucet.
“All of our ops culminate with the end of the fiscal year,” Eshenour said. “It’s really crunch time for us.”
Crunch time was even a little more hectic for his flight this year, said Eshenour. The base’s busy and varied operations in September added to the mania.
“This year was a really different year,” he said. “After the omnibus bill passed through congress, we got additional funding... on September 12, we got almost $22 million for end of year spending.”
It’s typical for the budget flight in CPTS to work long hours during September, and this year was no exception, but Eshenour said he’s proud of his team and the way they handled the workload.
“This whole thing is a team effort,” he said. “We rely on resource managers and advisors to do their part, even small things like pushing through travel vouchers helped. This whole thing is about being a good partner and helping everyone get the work done. I’m really proud of my team. These Airmen made a real difference.”
An integral part of the end of fiscal year team is the contracting office, which rewards myriads of contracts, large and small, during “crunch time” in late September.
Lt. Col. Lateef Hynson, 19th Contracting Squadron commander, said once September starts, the working day goes anywhere from 10-12 hours and it’s possible there will be people still working at Midnight on Sept. 30, to ensure all the money is spent.
One of the offices in the 19th CONS is the commodities office, which deals with small contracts. Tech. Sgt. Eric Lannon, NCOIC of the commodities office, said in September his office executed nearly $5 million in funds, compared to $1.4 million in August. Along with the increased operations Lannon worked with an inexperienced staff, but he said he’s proud of the effort everyone put in.
“No one person could do this,” he said. “I’m really proud of the way these guys, doing it with less experience, still got it done with a team effort.”
One of the commodities office biggest customers is the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron, which also plays a significant role in the end of year proceedings. Capt. Corey Alfred, 19th CES operations flight chief, said in the last three weeks of September her flight spend $1.6 million and processed 550 line items and 240 job orders.
The resource advisors for the 19th CES said working in their office for the end of fiscal year is comparable to owning a household and having to pay every bill at once.
The end of summer is an enjoyable time for a lot of people, whether due to cooler temperatures, the changing colors or just having the kids back in school. But on the business side, fall also brings with it the end of the fiscal year, and a lot of overtime for the men and women on base. Monday was a commander authorized minimal manning day, in part for all of the Airmen, civilian employees and contractors who poured out extra hours of their time to complete the mission at hand.