The Alamo Area Council of Governments and Joint Base San Antonio signed an intergovernmental agreement Wednesday designed to streamline certain purchase contracts and allow local governments to perform work for the area’s military bases.

Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman of the 502d Air Base Wing and Diane Rath, executive director of the Alamo Area Council of Governments, signed the agreement, the first of its kind to be entered into by the U.S. Air Force.

The types of services Lenderman expects to farm out to local governments include public works such as paving, bulk purchasing, elevator maintenance, and well-water maintenance.

Under the kinds of work covered by the agreement, federal acquisitions regulations do not apply, streamlining the contract process for Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), said Steve Bonner of Sonri Inc., a consulting and strategic services firm that promotes partnerships.

“It’s a brand-new way of doing business for [the U.S. Department of Defense],” he said. “It’s going to change the local governments from being cheerleaders for the base to being service providers.”

Local governments can drive better deals with businesses than the federal government because they aren’t bound by federal acquisition regulations, he said.

When JBSA needs work done on the types of projects covered by the agreement, it will send a task order to AACOG, which will contact local governments to see if their contractors can take on the job. The government entities that are able to fulfill the request benefit from new revenue and the local economy benefits by getting federal government contract work.

Lenderman called the agreement a great step forward in terms of JBSA and AACOG’s partnership and stated that the intergovernmental support agreement saves the community and the base money and time. 

“In general, our processes aren’t as fast as we wish they were,” Lenderman. “We’re subject to a governmental process that takes time, and this is one way we can move around that timeline and take advantage of the city that has less constraints perhaps in terms of contracts and those sorts of things.”

The base commander said she did not foresee a reduction to staffing levels at JBSA as a result of the intergovernmental agreement.

“Ultimately, it will save us time, it will save our staff members time,” she said. “We won’t necessarily have fewer staff because we can dedicate time to the backlog. There’s always something that we need to do and need to accomplish.

“Now our staff can concentrate on those inherently governmental contracts that are not associated with the agreements with downtown.”

Col. Richard S. Ward, director of contracting for the 502d Contracting Squadron at JBSA, said his squadron would continue to work on contracts required for services such as aircraft maintenance, training, and recruiting.

“They can really focus on our security and keeping us safe, and we can do the things that cities and counties do. We can do garbage collection, we can cut grass, we can help them with paving,” said Rath. “Our member governments will be able to support the military and at the same time expand their capacity. We’re very excited to have this very mutual, beneficial agreement. It’s a win-win for both sides.”

The City of San Antonio and Joint Base San Antonio worked together on a paving project last year with beneficial results, she said.

“We discovered on paving that they [JBSA] saved about 22 percent and it took a month instead of eight months,” said Rath.

Tim Hernandez

Tim Hernandez is a freelance journalist in the San Antonio area. His latest aspiration is to teach journalism and English at the high school level in the next few years.