FORT BELVOIR, Virginia –
DLA is celebrating 60 years of logistics support since it was created Oct. 1, 1961. The theme is “Forged by History, Focused on the Future.”
In this story, we celebrate and honor DLA Energy employee Matt Shuster who joined the agency as a clerk-typist in 1982.
For more stories, videos, and graphics highlighting the agency’s history and people, go to the DLA 60th Anniversary page.
Please tell me your name and where you work:
My name is Matt Shuster and I work in the DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum Products Division. I help support everything to do with the Offer Entry Tool (OET) and the Bulk Bid Evaluation Model (BEM).
How long have you been with DLA and in civil service?
My entire 38-year career has been with DLA, except two months when I worked the summer job with the Air Force.
What is the story behind how/why you joined civil service?
I used to type papers in college for spending money, so I was a pretty good typist. It was the summer of 1982, and I got a job as a GS-3 Clerk-Typist with the Air Force at the Pentagon. That introduced me to the Defense Department and gave me a taste of civil service. I graduated college on a Sunday in 1983 and went back to work typing on Monday morning. Eventually, I learned about the DLA intern program. I applied and was accepted. It was a three-year program; I spent the first year in Philadelphia at the Defense Personnel Support Center, taking all the Contracting classes and doing some on-the-job training. I was then transferred to Defense Energy Support Center at Cameron Station in Alexandria where I finished out the last two years of the program.
What jobs have you had with DLA and at what locations?
After successfully completing my DLA internship, I worked on the Into-Plane program as a Contract Specialist. I also worked in our Contract Administration Directorate as an Administrative Contracting Officer and in the Policy office there. For a short while, DLA bought Crude Oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and I was assigned to that team. While on that team I developed a method to quickly and accurately evaluate Crude Oil offers.
Here at Fort Belvoir, I’ve worked as a Contracting Officer in Direct Delivery Fuels and Bulk Fuels. I also ran the Contract Review Branch in the Policy Office for a while.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the workplace?
The biggest change is just how we do business. Today we do everything on the computer. When I started, we would write all our contract documents out by hand and have the typing pool type them up on electric typewriters. Forms were filled out by hand, or with a typewriter. We communicated with vendors by telephone, so we’d document the file with conversation records. We would hand carry our contract folders from office to office for review. Everyone had a telephone on their desk which had two or three lines for the group. Offers were received by mail, and the Bid Custodian was an actual person who would log them in and distribute them.
I remember when we got our first computer. There was one assigned to each Division. My boss required each of us to spend at least one hour every week learning how to use it. Interestingly we also had a “Paperwork Reduction” effort going on which had little effect on reducing paperwork. It was the introduction of the PC that effectively reduced paperwork.
What has made you stay with DLA?
It’s the fact that I’m supporting my country and not just working to improve the bottom line at a corporation. I have always enjoyed working at DLA. I’ve been treated well, and the opportunities are great.
It’s DLA’s 60th Anniversary—60 years of being an agency. What are your thoughts about the anniversary and DLA’s legacy?
I’m proud of DLA’s 60th Anniversary. We have a legacy of always supporting the military through changing times. What has remained constant is our people work very hard to support the warfighter. DLA Energy (or Defense Fuel Supply Center or Defense Energy Support Center) has always had a culture of teamwork and that hasn’t changed.
It is very critical that we remember our history, and our reputation for supporting the Warfighter. It is up to the new and upcoming leaders in DLA to continue that important work.