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News | Nov. 6, 2019

DLA Aviation Philadelphia setting records in its support of the nation’s warfighters

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

In 1966, in the midst of what many historians believe was the decade that defined this country, Motown recording artist and Philadelphia native Tammi Terrell teamed up with legendary soul heavyweight Marvin Gaye, to release “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” considered to be one of the most iconic songs in music history.

It could be said the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation team in the City of Brotherly Love took Gaye and Terrell’s famous words to heart when they embarked on a mission to improve support to our warfighters.

Chris Mosher, director, Procurement Operations at DLA Aviation in Philadelphia, and his team led the charge.

“I inherited a great team. We wouldn’t be successful without the great group of first-line and second-line leaders here in Philadelphia, and without all of the great support we receive from our senior leadership team in Richmond,” he said.

Mosher took over as director in November 2017 following a 30-year career as a Navy Supply Corps officer, serving in a variety of operational, acquisition and supply chain positions at sea and on shore. His last active duty tour was as director of subsistence for DLA Troop Support, also in Philadelphia.

“We are partnered with Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia to procure depot-level repairable spare parts for all naval aviation weapons systems. NAVSUP WSS generates the requirements for Naval Aviation DLR spares and then sends those requirements over to us in the form of a procurement request. We then put the PRs on contract,” said Mosher.

One of the first goals he set for himself and the team was finding improved and more innovative methods of increasing the number of contracts awarded for those parts. For fiscal 2017, 2,170 PRs were awarded. The numbers increased to 2,475 for fiscal 2018, but fiscal 2019 was the real game changer with 3,737 PRs awarded, a more than 50% improvement. They also obligated $2.42 billion in fiscal 2019, another record amount.

Mosher said a number of processes put in place directly contributed to the record awards output. He said one of the most significant was the implementation of the Workload Management Tool, already in use by DLA Aviation in Huntsville, Alabama.

“The WMT allows us to track the status of each procurement request and provides an automated way for us to track proposals with each of our suppliers, keep a close eye on our projected contractual obligations, and share status and other pertinent information associated with each PR with the requirement holders at WSS,” he said.

Mosher said the tool has been invaluable. It allows each buyer to keep track of the important dates for open requirements, such as expected quote and award dates, and it keeps each buyer responsible for making sure awards are issued as soon as possible.

He said the contracting workforce describes the WMT as a “game changer.”

Elizabeth D'Imperio, branch chief, Policy and Acquisition Support, leads a team comprised of procurement analysts, cost and price analysts, a competition advocate and a small business specialist. She said another element that led to the record numbers of contracts awarded is the leveraging of the Special Emergency Procurement Authority, when appropriate.

“SEPA allows for flexibilities in the procurement process when procurement is in support of a contingency operation.  These flexibilities reduce the time required to take an acquisition from receipt by the buyer to award of a contract,” she said.

As a DLR site, DLA Aviation Philadelphia had to request approval to use SEPA from both DLA Aviation and Navy leadership. Once approved, D’Imperio said they developed a detailed user guide which explained the policy, the flexibilities allowed and how to apply them. She said live training was then provided to the entire workforce. 

On average, procurement administrative lead times are reduced by 60 days for an award made using SEPA. Between January and September 2019, 505 buys were awarded using this process.

“Accomplishments such as this are very difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain or surpass.  Our goal is to continue to improve our PALT and production given the pipeline and budgetary constraints we work within, and by doing so keep fleet readiness at an optimal level,” she said.

They also developed an in-house pricing team, allowing them to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on external agencies such as Defense Contract Management Agency and Defense Contract Audit Agency for pricing reviews. The turn-around time for an external pricing review is an average of 45 days for a requirement under $10 million and in excess of 90 days for a requirement over $10 million.

D’Imperio said the average turn-around time for pricing reviews conducted by our internal pricing team was 32 days in fiscal 2019.

“Our record number of contract awards is evidence of the dedication and ability of our workforce, and the strength of our leadership, for which we all should be proud. However, the true value of our record production is the improved support we provide to the fleet,” she said. 

Mosher said another tool they’ve used to provide support to the warfighter was hiring a number of DLA Pathways to Career Excellence Program interns who brought a lot of energy and excitement to the office, creating a very exciting dynamic.

John Collier is one of those energetic individuals Mosher is talking about. Collier, a contract specialist, started in August 2018 as part of the PaCE program, a two-year training program designed to train entry-level personnel for subsequent advancement to the journeyman level in professional, administrative, and technological career fields.

“I was taught that our most important goal is to support the warfighter,” Collier said.

During his short time as part of the DLA Aviation team in Philadelphia, Collier said he has rotated between teams, working on different aircraft platforms and gaining valuable experience. He was one of six individuals handpicked by Steven Pizzo, division chief for tactical spares, to be a part of an F-18 Burn Down Tiger Team Pizzo put together.

“Our main goal was to have roughly 175 of our open Navy F-18 fighter jet requirements on contract by the end of fiscal 2019,” Collier said.

The team accomplished this goal more than a month ahead of schedule.

Pizzo said within a five-month time frame, the team awarded approximately 300 PRs, allowing DLA Aviation in Philadelphia to have a key role in meeting the Navy Air Boss’s goal of 341 mission capable F-18 Super Hornet aircraft.

 “I am proud that we were able to do our part in making sure we could get as many aircraft parts to our servicemen and women, so they can continue with their missions,” Collier said.

Pizzo said they implemented a highly effective employee recognition program to reward and motivate high achievers each month for their hard work, productivity and outstanding leadership.

Mosher said they also did a complete overhaul of the training program, including recurring classroom sessions led by senior contracting officers, and created an extensive on-the-job training plan.

As part of this plan, Pizzo said he conducted various Workload Management Tool trainings sessions within his division to assist his team in managing their own work.

“I strove to put people in a position to succeed, such as adjusting workflows to the strengths of the individual. I also gave them work needed to improve their weaknesses from both a branch chief and working floor perspective,” he said.

“With the bar so high, my team is aware of the upcoming year and they know my goal is to award everything that we can award. As long as you have the work and a motivated work force, the sky is the limit. My division has bought into my concepts quickly and continues to grow on a daily basis,” he said.

“I’m very appreciative of the time and effort that the experienced people have spent with the PaCErs, teaching them the ropes. By them investing their time, our PaCErs are already making a significant contribution to our team,” Mosher said.

The extraordinary successes in Philadelphia have not gone unnoticed DLA Headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams singled out Mosher and his team for their outstanding work supporting the warfighters during the DLA Aviation Dynamic Operating Plan review held on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, Oct. 17.

Mosher is well aware that topping the record number of contract awards in fiscal 2019 will be a tough act to follow.  “The main production focus in fiscal 2020 will be to award a high percentage of PRs “on time” and to exceed NAVSUP WSS’s goal of 85% of PRs awarded within planned administrative lead time.”

“There is always room for improvement,” he said.