DLA working group names areas for potential use of artificial intel to boost efficiency

By Amy McGrath and Jeanie Parrish, DLA Information Operations

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A team from the Defense Logistics Agency’s Analytics Center of Excellence at a recent workshop identified more than two dozen DLA processes to which artificial intelligence and machine learning could someday bring greater efficiency and lower risk — in line with goals set in the DLA Strategic Plan.

ACE’s Artificial Intelligence Working Group developed the potential areas at a workshop in Fort Lee, Virginia, July 24-26. The group also identified five areas where leaders can focus their initial AI/ML efforts.

The 45-member team, led by Teresa Smith, DLA’s chief data officer, and Jeff Charlesworth, the agency’s chief technology officer, first assessed the agency’s capability gaps. They also considered what training users would need to monitor and adjust the performance of AI/ML systems.

Ultimately, the group found 26 processes that span the functions of DLA. They include:

  • Financial adjustments
  • Inventory reconciliations
  • Analysis of data on price, performance, delivery and quality

The members also worked with the Information Operations training coordinator to evaluate training options, including academic institutions, industry programs and online options.  

Marcus Bowers, DLA’s director of transformation, briefed the working group on the DLA Strategic Plan and relative AI/ML considerations.

The team then assessed how these emerging tools could be applied to improve DLA’s processes in innovative and productive ways.

“The working group and resulting gap analysis will greatly inform related DoD Reform initiatives and business transformation,” Bowers said, adding that the group’s work has “set the bar for DLA’s focused effort regarding OSD policy on emerging technologies.” 

Tom Meyer, director of ACE, noted that AI and ML are not for every problem or process. “AI and ML are powerful tools if applied properly and to the right kinds of problems,” he said. “The group worked hard to identify potential use cases that best fit AI’s and ML’s design as learning tools centered on complex data.” 

The ACE team will work with agency leaders and subject matter experts to develop specific AI/ML solutions to enhance DLA support to the warfighter. The team is also part of a Department of Defense working group developing the AI strategy for all of DoD.  

The DLA Strategic Plan calls for the agency “to provide predictive technologies that anticipate and position solutions for Warfighter requirements by combining big data, predictive analytics, automation, artificial intelligence, sustained supply chain visibility and continuous communication.”