Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Training locks-up dividends

(U.S. Air Force photo) Scott Hamilton and Mike Alcorta, certified container inspectors at the 721st CED, inspect, install and repair all manner of security container locks, saving the wing thousands of dollars per year.

By Tyler Nielsen

721st Civil Engineer Division

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. — You probably see one at some point during your day — the 21st Space Wing has many of them — the venerable security container. These containers must be approved by the General Services Administration and are the only authorized way to store classified information.

Keeping a security container maintained and certified is typically a unit responsibility, and the bills can add up quickly. An inspection using a contractor from downtown costs about $500 per container. Each of these containers may contain one or more locks and must be inspected by a GSA-certified inspector annually. The 721st Mission Support Group Civil Engineer Division has invested in tooling and training to perform these inspections as an in-house activity by the lock shop. Technicians were trained and equipped to become GSA-certified security container maintainers and inspectors. This consisted of four weeks of private GSA-certified schoolhouse training and a small investment in tools, including drill bits and a tool required for miniature locking mechanisms associated with these certified containers.

This in-house capacity has saved tenant units and the 721st MSG, cumulatively, more than $15,000 on inspecting, installing, repairing and certifying locks and containers in FY12 alone. CE has saved two times the cost of the training by not having to outsource this function to a local GSA vendor. Scott Hamilton and Mike Alcorta are certified container inspectors, but they are also certified to inspect, install and repair all manner of X07, X08, X09 and LKM 7000 locks. Through government procurement channels, the lock shop can obtain locks at prices much lower than from outside contractors. Units can also avoid paying high weekend and nighttime callout charges, as the government employees in the lock shop are on call to respond to emergencies. Response time for both routine and emergency service has been greatly improved through in-house execution of this requirement. Savings through lower material and decreased labor costs exceeded the initial investment within the first six months. Recertification is done on a three-year cycle so direct savings, especially to customers, will continue to mount.

In addition to cost savings, having an in-house capability has provided additional benefits to 721st MSG and tenant units at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. From a compliance standpoint, this program has identified several containers that had problems making them unusable for classified storage. These containers were taken out of service to prevent the possible compromise of classified materials ensuring compliance in the process. The lock shop capabilities give the 721st a unique ability to respond to lock or container problems within minutes versus waiting for a contractor who may take hours to arrive from downtown. Government man-hours are also saved when unit personnel no longer need to coordinate and escort contractors into restricted areas.

The lock shop also maintains a listing of surplus containers and can help a unit identify a replacement when a container fails, instead of buying a new container. When it’s time to get rid of a failed container, the lock shop can certify the container for DRMO disposal.

This training has truly paid for itself by providing additional training to wing personnel. The lock shop saves the 721st MSG and CMAFS tenant units thousands of dollars annually and provides a much greater level of service than that supplied by outside contractors.

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