The Air Force will consolidate a multi-million dollar roof replacement and repair program in a bid to save money at 70 bases across the country, the service said.
But a Miami Valley building and contractors representative said the program is the "exact wrong approach" that could cost taxpayers more money and drive smaller contractors out of the bidding.
The Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, headquartered at Wright-Patterson, will oversee the program and award contracts next June out of a pool of about 30 small business contractors as a way to deal with decreasing budgets and aging infrastructure, the service branch said.
Instead of awarding a contract for a single project at a base, the new approach will allow companies to compete for roofing work in consolidated contracts valued up to $325 million, the Air Force said. The contracts will be awarded in one of five geographic regions around the nation and cover about 250 million total square feet of construction space.
The change will make more work available to fewer contractors, a model other federal agencies and large corporations have followed to trim costs, the Air Force said.
"We identified that the lack of competition and inconsistencies in procurement approach costs us millions per year," Chris Hoff, an Air Force roofing program manager said in a statement.
Hoff was unavailable for an interview Wednesday, a base spokesman said.
John Morris, president of the Ohio Valley Associated Contractors Association, said while his organization was "very excited" the service branch has pointed to a lack of competition and inconsistent procurement practices costing millions, "but unfortunately their proposed solution to this problem is the exact wrong approach."
The federal contracting process "is far more complex than it has to be and this drives up costs by reducing the number of bidders," the former University of Cincinnati economist said in an email.
"The regional approach will drive out local labor and encourage contractors to add travel and per diem costs into projects," Morris said.
Morris said in the email the changes "will eliminate the vast majority of small, minority and veteran-owned businesses for competing for this government work."