Decision Modeling Framework Improves Process for Awarding Firefighting Helicopter Contracts
The US Forest Service contracts helicopter services used in its wildfire suppression activities. In the past, the contracting process has relied on ad-hoc spreadsheet ranking methods. Aviation managers desired ways to add more rigor, reliability and transparency to the process. NRS researcher Stephanie Snyder was part of a team that created a suite of optimization decision models and a database system. These tools greatly enhanced the efficiency and credibility of the award process and allowed for explicit consideration of trade-offs between quality and cost of contract assignments. The models were used to award firefighting helicopter contracts in 2008 and in 2010.