Leaders from the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense discussed the Defense Logistics Agency’s support to their efforts and future initiatives with agency leaders June 13 at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.
The meeting was formatted much like DLA’s annual service days, and both sides agreed it was a timely event, given the critical mission the JPEO performs.
“You guys are one of our very important customers, and one of our missions here is to ensure our customers are delighted,” DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek said during his opening remarks. “If you’re not delighted, we’ll work together to resolve those issues and make sure that we’re helping you guys get the mission done.”
DLA has long managed the critical items the JPEO uses in its mission to research, develop, acquire and field defense equipment for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. In recent years, the agency has worked with the JPEO to improve the management of those items by establishing management procedures and implementing a product support manager for the program. To further improve support, the JPEO is embedding a liaison in DLA Headquarters to enhance communication between the two organizations and speed problem resolution.
“Our theme here is to significantly improve performance, and we let you guys define what performance is,” Harnitchek said. “So we’re not going to measure what we think is important to you; you guys will tell us what’s important to you, and then we’ll meet that.”
Carmen Spencer, the joint program executive officer for chemical and biological defense, said his organization’s partnership with DLA is critical because of the nature of its mission. The JPEO has an operational mission that includes everything from the development of diagnostics to force protection, he noted, and often has very real consequences. For example, an element of the JPEO is aboard a ship in Rota, Spain, assisting with the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons.
“That’s why our logistics supply chain is so very, very important, because we do have people in harm’s way,” Spencer said. “Everything has got to be right the first time, and we’re kind of in a no-fault business.”
Douglas Bryce, the deputy joint program executive officer for chemical and biological defense, pointed out areas where DLA has helped improve the JPEO’s operations, like identifying an obsolete uniform pattern being maintained for the joint service lightweight suit technology used to protect troops in biological and chemical attacks and helping to preserve the industrial base for critical items. Looking ahead, Bryce proposed establishing an annual meeting between DLA and the JPEO and quarterly meetings between the JPEO liaison, project managers and center commanders, as well as developing a technical data package process for chemical and biological items.
Christine Metz, chief of the Technical and Quality Division in DLA Logistics Operations, highlighted the quality management changes DLA has instituted to better assure the quality of critical chemical and biological defense equipment and the work of the JPEO-Chemical Biological Defense/DLA working group, which is updating procedures for this equipment and improving contract and technical processes. She also outlined the next steps the agency is taking to further improve support to the JPEO, which include designating DLA Land and Maritime as the lead supply chain for the critical items, DLA Headquarters audits of chemical and biological contracts, and simplifying and standardizing technical data packages for these items.