George Prill interviews Marianne Deuster, the newly appointed head of acquisition of GSE for the United States Air Force.
By Michelle Garetson/p>
By George Prill
This year's GSE International Expo garnered a strong gathering of military aviation support equipment personnel, including Marianne Deuster, the newly appointed head of acquisition of ground support equipment for the U.S. Air Force. George Prill caught up with Deuster to discuss present and future strategies involving aviation ground support for the military.
GP: First, congratulations to you on taking over the Support Equipment and Vehicle Division at Warner Robins Air Logistic Center. The work of your Division is obviously of great interest to our readers. Would you give us some of your background?
MD: My current assignment is to WR-ALC/LES, Ground Support Equipment and Vehicles, in the Support Equipment and Vehicles Directorate (LE) headed up by Col. Steven Hockett and his Deputy Mr. John Adams. I was the Automatic Test Equipment Deputy Division Chief for about three years until I moved to this post in July of this year. My background is mostly in program management, including positions in the Communications, Electronics and Space Directorate, the A-10/F-111 Directorate at McClellan AFB, CA. I also worked the transition of over 20 programs to other Air Force locations when McClellan AFB closed. I spent over two years as a member of the Acquisition Reform Lightning Bolt Team that worked with major programs across the command. Further back, my career included hands-on maintenance experience as an FAA Electronics Technician and an Aircraft Mechanic working programmed depot maintenance on fighter aircraft.
GP: Can you give us some idea of the possible expansion of projects and budgets that you might be involved with in the next two fiscal years?
MD: It's very difficult to give you a dollar figure. Dynamic real-world conditions are driving some requirements while others are projected equipment buys and sustainment requirements. However, we are limited to funding ceilings approved by Congress. Some of our current initiatives are benchmarking "best practices" both internal and external to the Air Force and looking for partnership opportunities with other government agencies and contractors. Synergistic partnerships between commercial business, and other services and agencies are possible and desirable. In addition, we look to Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) procurements when we can. Upcoming tow vehicle acquisitions will be important examples.
GP: Will you be working with other agencies on alternative power; fuel cells, for example?
MD: Absolutely. We have a group working on alternative power with other agencies, military and non-military. They are also working with industry in Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) types of projects. This is an important program for us with many potential support equipment applications. Currently, none of these efforts are classified.
GP: How is the transition from ground support activities at Kelly Air Force Base progressed? That has been a lengthy process.
MD: The transition is completed. The employees that were willing to relocate from San Antonio have been a great resource for us. We have also brought in a number of trainees and we are building up their expertise. Moves and transitions are difficult, but I believe that we are moving along and that we are building a strong team.
Most of the work on ground support is done at Robins. In addition, we have a developmental system manager located at Wright Patterson AFB who is assigned to Col. Hockett, the Support Equipment Single Manager, who is based at Robins.
GP: How do you tie in with the new aircraft programs such as the F-35, the Joint Strike Fighter?
MD: The aircraft program offices ask for participation from our subject-area experts to work with their Integrated Product Teams to develop and execute new support equipment requirements. In addition, we are responsible for the sustainment of most common support equipment.
GP: Are you interested in refurbishment or remanufacturing ground support equipment presently in the inventory?
MD: We consider buying new versus refurbishment/repair. We use cost benefit analysis as a way to do this. Obsolescence continues to be an issue for life cycle support and sustainment. Each case is evaluated and a cost benefit analysis is done to make the best decision.
GP: How can a small company that has never done business with the government best work with your organization?
MD: We utilize Federal Business Opportunities to advertise Federal government procurements over $25,000. Participation in trade shows like the GSE Expo provides valuable insight into the ground support industry. Our technical staff utilizes the Expo as a market research resource.
Warner Robins-Air Logistics Center Small Business Office
180 Page Road
Robins AFB, GA 31098-1600
GSE International Expo
May 13 -15, 2003
Las Vegas Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nevada