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News | May 20, 2020

Multi-party communication resolves delay in contracts

By Natalie Skelton DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Warfighter success depends on efficient teams and when one Defense Logistics Agency Aviation team experienced process delays, they set out to correct the issue in January and get things moving again.

An aviation supply chain contractor had experienced more than 100 contract delays — some for more than a year. The delays meant the contracts were in danger of termination. The contract technical information did not contain a Critical Characteristics List and was not something a vendor could fix. Termination would mean a repeat of the entire contract solicitation process. The long-term impasse has been resolved and a contractor that fills a special niche is still doing business with DLA.

To resolve the issue, Richard Deiter, Post Award Branch division chief in the Contract Administration Division of the Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate and his team met with the contractor who alerted them to the problem as well as with Defense Contract Management Agency team members. All parties agreed that if the technical data packages provided by a military services’ engineering support activities began to include CCLs, those government provided lists would govern inspections.

Frank DiPofi, a value engineering lead for the aviation forging and casting assistance team, explained the source of the delay. DiPofi said the aviation forging and casting assistance team reviews technical data packages, but in this case, at the request of Deiter, AFCAT reviewed numerous technical data packages in 2016 and 2018: all awarded to Danko Arlington, Inc.; a company that specializes in military and commercial aluminum and bronze sand castings.

“Many of these items were critical safety items that require government source inspection by Defense Contract Management Agency inspectors,” DiPofi said. “They use a very specific criteria contained in a [Critical Characteristics List].” As derived from Department of Defense Military Standard  [MIL-STC-1916] dealing with preferred methods for acceptance of product, critical characteristics are product characteristics which, when defective, are likely to result in hazardous or unsafe conditions for individuals using, maintaining or depending upon the product; or, are likely to prevent performance of the tactical function of a major end item such as an aircraft, missile, space vehicle, engine or a major part thereof.

The disconnect, DiPofi explained, began at the contract awarding process, “When these contracts were awarded, CCLs were not part of the technical data packages. Inspectors felt obligated to inspect items using CCLs, but they could not. As a result, the contracts — some nearly ready for delivery — could not be completed.”

“Without them, the contractor’s own CCLs will guide inspections,” DiPofi said.

To provide context to the urgency of the issue and its necessary resolution, Deiter provided insight into the post awards contract process.

“Requests that require a casting/forging process typically experience the longest production lead time due to diminishing manufacturing sources. It is not uncommon for contractors who possess this capability to experience production lead-times in excess of one year,” he said.

Deiter added, “The post award team worked with the contractor to reestablish acceptable ship dates since the delay was not contractor-caused, but rather a misunderstanding of the inspection process.”

Team members who contributed to the resolution included Sandra Coleman, Post Award Branch chief, and her deputy branch chief, Army Maj. Daniel Gustke.

Additionally, Deiter said, Randy Byrum, a technical/quality supervisor in the Aviation Engines and Airframes Division of the Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, is amending various technical data packages to address the critical characteristics lists. Byrum is an advisor to post award leadership on the technical aspects of contracts.

“As a team, we helped define the interpretations of contractual quality requirements for the contractor, DCMA and DLA,” Byrum added he believes there is now a better understanding of expectations between all parties.

Deiter said going forward, his team will remain responsive to and proactive on behalf of contractors when they experience challenges.

“This experience allowed us to establish an improved working relationship with the DCMA,” he said. “Both our agencies have gained a better appreciation of how we can work together to collectively and expeditiously resolve issues.”