Battle Creek, Michigan –
Attendees from across the global workforce gathered in Battle Creek, Michigan, Oct. 22-26 for a Senior Leader Summit where they heard DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon call the time since their previous gathering “a very good year.”
In his State of Command address, Cannon said it was also “a challenging year.” Before reviewing the past year’s accomplishments he said he likes the summit because it is the one time of the year when he can get leaders together to “level set.” Cannon said the event is his opportunity to have direct communication with area managers, operations supervisors, and regional directors “so you can communicate on down to the next two levels.”
Cannon went on to discuss the five Lines of Effort outlined in the DLA Strategic Plan and how operations have supported each one. Starting with the “Warfighter First” area, Cannon said it is why DLA Disposition Services exists.
“If we are not focused on the warfighter, we have no reason to be,” Cannon said.
One of the big things done for the warfighters was Network Optimization, which Cannon said allows for change as the needs of the customers change.
“It’s starting to work well. There have been some growing pains and we’ll continue to tweak it,” Cannon said. “It was never meant to be one and done. It was designed to let us change with the customer and handle more property at first touch.”
Had the “NetOps” initiative not been done, Cannon said 5 percent of his workforce would not be here because the budget would not have supported the status quo. He said neither the sales nor turn-ins were sufficient at certain sites, leaving the cost to keep those same facilities open exorbitant.
Cannon went on to address risk, noting there “is inherent risk in what we do.” Some of the risk is beyond the organization’s control, but one of the biggest things DLA Disposition Services does to address risk involves preventing the unintended release of controlled property.
Another risk discussed is fraud. Cannon said it is a real concern, especially in disposal work.
“The challenge we have is we are handling excess property, and people think that means it’s worthless, but it’s worth a lot,” Cannon said.
The Fraud Friday messages Cannon sends to the workforce have addressed the risk and help the workforce be alert for possible cases to investigate.
A big part of the “Global Posture” support deals with the expansion of the Expeditionary Site Set program and training for people who deploy for overseas contingency operations. Cannon discussed the acquisition of a fifth ESS that will be prepositioned in Germany to complement the sets staged in other areas.
Cannon described plans to combine the ESS equipment and the Overseas Contingency Operations Readiness Training program into support for large military exercises. This would let trainees practice building the structures in the ESS kits and operating a site as part of the exercise. More efforts are also underway to integrate the reserve military personnel and the civilian employees who deploy so they do not have to wait for OCORT sessions to work together.
The “Always Accountable” efforts deal with cost consciousness and process excellence, which Cannon said was supported by the analysis of his headquarters staff structure to determine how well it provides support to the field. He invited field representatives to help identify what changes were needed to better support their operations.
“The results helped create a process orientation structure that makes it easier to move functions when we need to,” Cannon said. “We’re going through the process now with same intent as NetOps to not lose anyone, but instead place people where they need to be.”
While the process creating electronic documents, or “eDocs,” for customers has improved, Cannon said more can be done. He explained that customers expect the evidence from their turn-ins in five days, so the command needs ways to do the process better. One way he described is using the RTD photo application, which he said can create an indexed image that is better than a scanned document.
“Now you don’t have to send scanned images to DLA Document Services to be indexed and pay them 35 cents per document for the service,” Cannon explained. “It saves time and money. We don’t want to be the reason one the services cannot pass their audits because they cannot prove what they turned in to us.”
The application also makes it easier to transfer item photos and information to the website by avoiding connections with devices into computers, which improves network security.
While some may think DLA Disposition Services deals mostly with the military, Cannon explained how his workforce does more for the “Whole of Government” effort than many people realize.
“How many of our 60,000 donation customers are state and local governments,” Cannon said. “Most of our special programs support public schools or law enforcement or firefighters or other government entities.”
Cannon also noted how the General Services Administration does not do property disposal outside of the continental United States, but DLA Disposition Services does. He also mentioned the “incredible amount of support for homeless veterans, plus hurricane relief … just an incredible amount of support, and I think we can do better.”
Public sales is another way DLA Disposition Services supports the GSA mission. Cannon said the revenue generated through public sales help with return on investment for items that don’t get reutilized.
“That means less the services and taxpayers have to pay us to do our job,” Cannon said. “We came up with a public sales guidebook to give us more structure on how we do public sales. It’s been extremely helpful.”
The “Strong Partnerships” effort relies on partnerships and the synchronization of our efforts to help complete the mission. Cannon discussed how people in the Operations directorate took advantage of some existing technology to assist their effort to create new visitor logs for the field sites.
“It’s going to help us control our visitors and have some automated way to find out who is where and keep us from managing a wall full of visitor control cards,” Cannon said.
Workforce flow helps make work easier by doing things smarter. Cannon described how good warehouse flow makes a site more efficient by reducing wasted effort.
“It’s like giving you more people because you can get more done without driving all over the warehouse,” Cannon said.
Sites like San Antonio, which has worked on its flow, have shown great improvement, Cannon said. He suggested that leaders who have not done it yet should consider ways to improve the flow at their warehouses.
Partnering with industry has also helped the development of the mobile office concept. Cannon said three prototype mobile offices have been acquired and 30 more will be built. Some of the devices will be shared with other parts of the agency like DLA Distribution.
“It should give customers more confidence in us because we will be able to do things immediately for them. It may also allow us to expand receiving items in place beyond the bigger items,” Cannon said. “My request to you is that when you get one of these, run it through the ringer so we can make sure it works.”
Cannon also spent time discussing elements of the People and Culture Plan as an enabler for field operations.
“We’re focused on the warfighter, but it’s the people who get the job done,” Cannon said. “So we have to fortify the culture in a bunch of different ways.”
Safety was stressed among the efforts to protect the workforce. Cannon said everyone is responsible for safety and losing that mindset would get people hurt and wreck everything else.
“When something bad happens in one place it can ripple through the enterprise,” Cannon said. “If you have something that isn’t working, use the activity report to let us know when you need help from Battle Creek.”
Cannon also said he is looking forward to seeing who would win the “MHE Rodeo” being held during the summit. The rodeo allows material handling equipment operators to compete and promotes the safe operation of such equipment.
He also encouraged leaders to take advantage of training opportunities and enterprise rotation programs to help manage talent.
“If we don’t invest in our people, it’s a pay me now or pay me later proposition,” Cannon said. “It’s almost always better to pay me now.”
Cannon also stressed the importance of a diverse panel in the competitive hiring process, using one member from outside the leadership chain.
“It’s our tool to show we are fair and equitable and hiring the best people for the jobs available,” Cannon said. “You want someone good; you want the best fit.”