MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan --- The F-35 Lightning II aircraft is a fifth-generation fighter with three variants and is slated to replace U.S. military legacy fighter aircraft in the coming years.
With a program of this size, there are checks and balances set in place to ensure that contracts regarding the aircraft are being fulfilled, and the government is getting its money’s worth.
Those checks and balances come in the form of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) and the Pacific area of regard Site Activation Task Force (SATAF).
“We are in charge of setting up the F-35 program in the Pacific area of regard,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Justin Ito, the officer in charge of the Pacific area of regard SATAF stationed at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni. “Some of the things that we are responsible for are contracts and contract performance. With the F-35 you have a lot of really expensive contracts and the government wants to make sure that they are getting their end of the deal. What does that mean? The government needs someone out here to evaluate contract performance.”
Katsuji Tahara, an information technology specialist with the communication and information systems department for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, and an Iwakuni City resident, stepped up to create a SharePoint website where a contract officer representative (COR) can store the results of their evaluation, termed an audit. The indexing and tracking of the audit data through SharePoint is significant because it can track trends, stimulate efficiency, bring transparency and can be available to higher commands where they can learn from the information.
Ito presented Tahara with a letter of appreciation for his efforts in creating the SharePoint at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, April 11, 2018.
Tahara received the recognition for his assistance in creating the SharePoint in four days. The site will be used for documenting, tracking and viewing audits of government contracts for work relating to the F-35 Lightning II aircraft system.
“In the big picture, what he did was leaps and bounds over what he should be doing,” said David Naseer, an F-35 (COR) and Pacific area of regard SATAF strategist working at MCAS Iwakuni. “We gave this to him last week, and it was done in four days. He got it done very, very quickly because we impressed upon him the urgency, complexity and importance of the overall program.”
Naseer is responsible for conducting audits throughout the Pacific.
Before the SharePoint was put in place and the billet for a COR existed, no audits were being conducted on contracts for the F-35 that fell under this SATAF.
“I got here and realized that we didn’t have anyone doing these audits, so we went out of our way, pushed the paperwork and did everything that we needed to get Naseer designated as a COR, so we can do these audits and have more transparency,” said Ito.
Ito has taken many steps to ensure the quality and the effectiveness of the work done by contractors through his efforts in creating a billet for a COR. Additionally, his forward thinking combined with the efforts of Naseer and Tahara have made progress that he says has the potential to save millions of dollars and can be utilized by other F-35 units.