News | Dec. 26, 2016

A Conversation with ...

By DLA Public Affairs

David Koch: Deputy Executive Director of DLA Mission Support

For non-DLA readers or those new to the agency, what are the Mission Support Directorate’s responsibilities?

The Mission Support Directorate comprises the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office, the Performance Based Logistics Division and Management Support. JCASO is the Department of Defense’s enabling on-call capability for Operational Contract Support planning across the combatant commands. We also have a deployable expeditionary contracting capability. Likewise, the PBL office governs initiatives and supply chain issues involving weapon systems and troop systems to develop tailored logistics solutions to improve life cycle management support.

When you say “supply-chain issues,” can you think of an example where PBL stepped in and developed a solution that solved the customer’s problem?

One of DLA Aviation’s PBL efforts focused on key aircraft subsystems, for the F-101, F-110 and F-118 engines. This PBL contract has significantly reduced inventory year to date, increased worldwide material availability, and improved order response time through its focus on holistic consumable support. Optimizing these supply chain attributes contributes to our customers’ ability to perform their mission.

What kinds of missions does the JCASO participate in?

Mission Support’s JCASO, as the on call OCS support, is involved with emergent situations on a regular basis, wherever they occur. The emerging situations are often supporting military operations, such as support to operations in Afghanistan or Iraq, or support of a humanitarian crisis, such as supporting the Ebola relief efforts during Operation United Assistance in Liberia in 2014. And last October, in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. [Editor’s Note: See America’s Helping Hand for more on this mission.]

You mentioned operational contract support. Can you give our readers a real-world example of what that is and why it’s an important service DLA provides through Mission Support?

In addition to providing on-call support for emergent situations, JCASO also provides OCS training support for deploying joint task forces and combatant command exercises. Geographically, we have Mission Support members operating around the globe on a daily basis.

What are the challenges you face in expeditionary acquisition that aren’t part of standard defense acquisition?

In expeditionary situations, our teams deploy with short notice, work with people that they barely know, and sometimes operate in austere environments. Their office is likely to be their laptop. They deploy without items you and I take for granted, such as guaranteed access to data, contract files and contract writing systems. But the mission brings together people, methods and systems to accomplish an urgent mission. It’s very rewarding.

For those who are not acquisition professionals, what is performance-based logistics?

Performance-based logistics is a contracting strategy that is designed to incentivize industry to provide a specified level of performance or a measurable outcome instead of paying for individual transactions. Through long-term, fixed-price contracts, a contractor is given the responsibility to provide a specified outcome (e.g., 90 percent availability, increased reliability) for its system or sub-system. With the profit motive in mind, industry is incentivized to invest in reliability improvements that provide a positive return on their investment over the life of the contract. Their investments at the beginning of the contract lead to greater profit toward the end due to the need for less repair actions/repair parts, etc. PBL aligns the objectives of the government, increased readiness, with those of industry, greater profit, at an overall reduced cost to the taxpayer.

Are there any drawbacks to the PBL approach?

PBLs are designed to create win-win situations for the government and industry. However, they are more complex than traditional, transactional support, and therefore typically take a longer time to put in place. However, well-crafted PBL arrangements have been proven to provide increased performance at a lower cost to the government.

How does PBL relate to Better Buying Power? Are they the same thing?

PBL is one aspect of the Better Buying Power concept promulgated by Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall. However, PBL and BBP are not one in the same. BBP includes many initiatives to improve acquisition within DoD, of which PBL is one.

It occurred to me that Mission Support’s executive director, Patrick Dulin, is a former Marine colonel. And you’re a former Air Force colonel. Those two services obviously have different cultures and perhaps different approaches to managing people and processes. Are there ways the management of your directorate reflects the background of its leaders? Are there areas where there’s more of a Marine Corps approach and others where you see more of the Air Force influence?

Funny you would mention that. We also have a Naval presence in the office, so things get very interesting during football season because of the service rivalries. All in good fun! While it may be true the services have different cultures and missions, certainly all of us have a warfighter focus and are wired to accomplish the mission with the people we lead.

Our Mission Support Directorate is no different in that way. There is no substitute for great leadership, diversity of experience and taking care of our people.

What else would you like people know about Mission Support that they might not?

The directorate’s mission set is very diverse and engaged globally. Our team of approximately 150 professions is making a difference for DoD every day.