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Evaluators keep track of inventory

Quality assurance evaluators with the 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Supply Quality Flight watch warehouse specialist Tom Thomas demonstrate a gas mask inspection that’s performed on a random sampling every six months. QAEs from left are George Eastling, Candy McDonald and John Sullivan.  (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Quality assurance evaluators with the 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Supply Quality Flight watch warehouse specialist Tom Thomas demonstrate a gas mask inspection that’s performed on a random sampling every six months. QAEs from left are George Eastling, Candy McDonald and John Sullivan. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- If George Eastling, Candy McDonald and John Sullivan are easily overwhelmed, they hide it well. As quality assurance evaluators assigned to the 72nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, they are responsible for the inventory of thousands of deployment, munitions and base supplies.

Their experience ranges from rookie to 33 years on the job, and their attitude is all about supporting the warfighter. The mindset of supporting the warfighter starts with 72nd LRS Director Roy Piatt, Deputy Director Earl Wade and Logistics Manager Jim Wagoner, and is the focus for personnel within the squadron, including the evaluators.

Items in their catalogs range from airman battle uniforms and mission-ready spare packages, to ammunition and 552nd Air Control Wing parts. It is estimated, the QAEs manage accounting for more than 3,500 Air Force Materiel Command and Air Force Reserve Command mobility bags and gas masks in three different facilities.

"Any QAE, not just one who oversees a contract, is important because they are the final quality check over a process or product," said Mr. Eastling, an evaluator for the Munitions Flight, who's been in the munitions and QAE field for 33 years. "If they fail to discover a problem, then that product or service will not be as effective as it could have been. In some instances, that could be the difference between winning and losing."

The evaluators monitor inventory for the equipment section, nuclear weapons related material, plus the Munitions and Supply Quality Flights. They oversee the work performed by base contractor, Data Monitor Systems Inc., by conducting monthly, quarterly and annual inspections.

The $3-million annual contract, which is the single point for base customer supply requests, encompasses more than 500 equipment management accounts, valued at $1 billion. There are almost 34,000 item records in stock control valued at $470 million. In storage and management, there are nearly 6,500 weapons, and almost 2,500 Air Force Materiel Command and 507th Air Refueling Wing mobility bags. The value reaches $1.1 million. There are also 4,200 inventory-line items for non Defense Logistics Agency activities stored on-base, valuing $640 million, 121 non-airborne communication kits for the 3rd Combat Communications Group, valued at $9 million. There are also approximately 900 individual equipment units stock-line items, valued at $235,000, plus the shipping, receiving, storing and issuing of nearly 500 ammunition and explosive items. They are valued at $7 million.

"The importance of having a contractor's performance monitored by a QAE cannot be understated," said Ms. McDonald who's been a QAE for the Supply Quality Flight for the past year. "People do make mistakes, not intentionally of course, but mistakes do occur from time to time. It is a QAE's responsibility to catch those mistakes so they can be corrected as soon as possible."

In order to do their jobs and do them well, Mr. Eastling, Ms. McDonald and Mr. Sullivan receive support, guidance and direction from their leadership - supervisors Jeff Baldwin, functional director of Base Supply Services, Mr. Piatt, Wade and Mr. Wagoner.

"If we have a QA problem that requires the attention and input of our command, we are encouraged to elevate the issue to our leadership," Ms. McDonald said. "They make it clear they have an 'open-door' policy and are willing and eager to sit down with us to discuss the problem."

When an Airman or Seaman at Tinker receives orders for deployment, or a squadron requests a part, the necessary articles can be purchased from the appropriate on-base venue, such as the Individual Equipment Office. If the item is deemed a "supply," it must be paid for as if it was purchased from a commercial business. If it is ammunition, it has been paid for by the Department of Defense and is merely issued by Mr. Eastling, who is also the Munitions Accountable Systems officer and Munitions Flight chief.

"Getting something from supply is just like buying something at the Base Exchange," Mr. Eastling said. "We charge a customer for a part and we give them credits back if they turn something in that's still serviceable, so they get money back to the squadron."

Master Sgt. Taunya Avery, 72nd LRS Stock Fund manager, said there is approximately $4.3 million worth of items available to Tinker, and the Air National Guard and reserve units at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; and Mansfield Lahm Airport, Ohio.

Yearly budgets for the units at three locations are determined and monitored by Sergeant Avery. She establishes the budget by reviewing past analytical studies and mandates for the upcoming year.

Regardless of how the money is spent, it is still the QAEs job to make sure the inventory matches paperwork.

"It's about getting the best value I can for Tinker's contracting dollars," said Mr. Sullivan, the newest member to the team. Mr. Sullivan is a QAE for the Supply Quality Flight.