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News | June 12, 2017

Army Corps of Engineers takes LEAP with DLA’s MRO program

By Leon Roberts U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team used a Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support program to cut its procurement time by 50 percent, earning the team a top Army award May 18.

In a Pentagon ceremony, the Army’s Lean Six Sigma Award Program gave its LEAP Process Improvement Project Team Excellence Award to the USACE Nashville District’s project-delivery team.

Karl F. Schneider, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Army, recognized organizations, project team members, and individual practitioners for outstanding contributions improving Army business processes. In welcoming the award winners, he stressed how the Army LEAP lines up with the priorities of the president and secretary of defense.

“In order to afford to rebuild the military, we have to reform the way the military does business,” Schneider said. “We have to garner savings from our business world to pay for the readiness of our forces.”

Schneider and Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, director of the Army Office of Business Transformation, recognized the Nashville District’s team for its Defense Logistics Agency Procurement Process.

Nashville District operations, legal, resource management, contracting and quality and process improvement experts implemented a pilot program in 2014 to use DLA's Facilities Maintenance Repair Operations Program, which resulted in more than 70 transactions to purchase critical supply items such as intake-crane cables; remote switching and racking devices that reduce the risk of electrical explosions known as arc flashes; air winches; sump pumps; systems that prevent falls; and systems used to rescue a worker after a fall.

Using DLA to procure these items reduced the time to award contracts and for supplies to be delivered by 50 percent, from 75 days to 37 days on average, according to Army Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, commander of USACE Nashville District.

"More importantly, because of the efficiencies gained by leveraging the Defense Logistics Agency Facilities Maintenance, Repair and Operations Program, our projects across a seven-state area are getting the supplies they need much faster," he said. "The team effort to utilize DLA as a source of supply procurements is paying off and I congratulate all involved on being recognized at the Pentagon."

In addition, the project reduced contracting office labor from 45 hours to 25 minutes, enabling contract specialists to focus on more complex procurements.

Tim Dunn, USACE Nashville Operations Division deputy chief, said the team's main objectives during the pilot program involved making sure the district had legal authorization to procure items using the DLA program, identify roles and responsibilities and outline steps for making purchases through the MRO program.

In using the MRO program, the district reduced contracting's labor hours for procuring simple supply items and freed up contract specialists to work more complex procurement actions.

"Purchasing simple supply items typically also reduces procurement lead time, resulting in the receipt of supplies, material and equipment significantly faster," Dunn said.

According to Dunn, using the program also allowed the Nashville District to quickly obligate funds on critical supply items late in the fiscal year because funds can quickly be obligated through DLA for pre-priced, high-priority supplies needed to operate and maintain projects while meeting year-end execution requirements.

The MRO program was developed to help customers reduce inventories and associated costs, address reductions in infrastructure and processes and capitalize on leveraged buying practices. Other benefits are greater control and flexibility in product selection, savings in storage and contacting costs and savings on finance charges from credit cards.

Dunn said the Nashville District uses the program to purchase critical supply items that cost more than what can be purchased on a government credit card but under the $150,000 threshold. The staff in operations coordinates with resource management and contracting, which provide a layer of checks and balances when procuring items using DLA and when funds are obligated.

Army LEAP is managed by the Continuous Process Improvement Program Office within the Office of Business Transformation and was established to recognize organizations, project teams and individuals, empower transformation of the Army’s business process, motivate individuals and organizations to aggressively pursue process improvement and share best practices and lessons learned.

"Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation within a process," said Reginald Beaulieu, quality and process improvement specialist in the Nashville District Business Integration Office.

USACE leadership is excited about the award and the Nashville District’s effort to improve process and save money in the process.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have the Department of the Army recognize the efforts of this Nashville Team -- a first-ever LEAP award for USACE," said Kevin Fuqua, deputy deployment director for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Continuous Process and Lean Six Sigma. "This team's results competed well against the perennial powerhouses in the Army LSS world. I foresee many more LEAP awards for USACE in the future, but none sweeter than the first."