Workshop results in tangible solutions for contracting challenges

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Hanscom Air Force Base personnel took part in a National Security Innovation Network Bootcamp July 10-13, developing core innovation and design thinking skills to tackle real challenges.

Nine individuals from across the installation participated in the four-day program, held at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Research Institute’s Northstar Campus in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

In partnership with the NSIN team, Hanscom AFB leaders identified a contracting-focused challenge statement for the Bootcamp, “How might we free up our critical resources by automating and simplifying key tasks in our contracting workflow?”

“The Bootcamp team really helped us dive into the specific problems we’re trying to solve,” said Jill Livingston, a contract specialist and the lead Hanscom AFB organizer for the contracting Bootcamp. “They helped us identify tangible actions we can take and worked with us on pitches we can use to ask leadership to support us in bringing our ideas to life.”

Participants worked in groups of three to identify, research, refine, and pitch solutions related to in-processing new contracting personnel, migrating to a new contracting documentation system, and closing out contracts.

“The program is a mixture of problem solving and education,” said Kelly Schulte, a contractor and the NSIN Bootcamp program manager. “We incorporate the use of university professors and startup founders to teach the principles of human-centered design in order to help people in the military or Department of Defense civilians learn how to solve problems on their own [using the Bootcamp process].”

Jack Foil, an engineer in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Cybersecurity Division and a first-time Bootcamp participant, said he was excited to explore a new process for solving challenges.

“The Air Force is known for innovation, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to participate in learning opportunities like this,” he said.

Capt. Ling Lin, a contracting officer and Bootcamp participant, was also drawn to the innovation aspects of the program.

“When I saw there was an opportunity to improve our current processes and save people time, I decided to sign up,” she said. “The Bootcamp offered a good structure for how to bring a problem to light and help solve it.”

The Bootcamp process couples innovation theory with taking action, said Nic Meliones, co-founder and CEO of Navi and one of NSIN’s Bootcamp delivery partners.

“We want to surface the right problems, have a rigorous process to solve those problems, and then have fast, inexpensive ways to test a vision for a grand solution and start making incremental advancements toward that,” he said.

The three teams pitched their solutions to Col. Karen Landale, Hanscom AFB’s deputy director of Contracting, and other installation leaders during an outbrief session.

“At the start of this program, I challenged them to think big, to think of practical things we could do, to think of moonshots they would want to do to execute this and not to discount any idea, because you never know when a couple of ideas might combine into something really good,” said Landale.

During the outbrief, Hanscom AFB leaders approved a pilot program to test one team’s solution for an automated inprocessing system for civilian and military personnel. Installation leaders recommended exploring ways to restructure another solution and asked for additional research on a third idea to help enhance training for contract closeouts.

“This [contracting] team is one of three groups that we’re working with across Hanscom Air Force Base, as part of an effort to really bring Hanscom on as a premier champion of NSIN programs,” Schulte said.

Livingston said Team Hanscom has participated in previous Bootcamps and NSIN will also hold programs focused on 66th Air Base Group and Enterprise IT and Cyber Infrastructure Division challenge statements later this year.

“After seeing the success of the contracting Bootcamp, I’m even more excited for the Air Base Group team to work with NSIN this summer,” said Darrell Bishop, 66 ABG management consultant and the lead for ABG-focused Bootcamp. “Our participants will explore creating a real-time data management reporting and tracking system for Airmen and Guardian’s functional proficiency, readiness training, and medical requirements.”

To learn more about the ABG Bootcamp, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 7-11, contact Darrell Bishop at For more information about NSIN’s Bootcamp program or to apply, visit