Defense reform and a new annual defense budget of $719 billion will mean more, not less, work for the Defense Logistics Agency, DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams told the workforce during a DLA Headquarters Town Hall Sept. 24.
“We are going to get more orders. Whether it’s food and water, or whether it’s weapons system support, whether it’s fuel, whether it’s the amount of material going into our disposition yards, the amount of material flowing in and out of our warehouses, we can all expect a great deal of more growth in demand from the services,” he said, adding that the boom in demand is in recognition of DLA’s capabilities and employees’ dedication.
Despite common belief that DLA’s level of support is decreasing with fewer troops deployed globally, it’s actually returning to levels seen during the surge in Afghanistan, he added.
DLA and service officials met early this year to forecast the supply needs of the military and the agency’s other customers. They determined demand will rise about 25 percent over the next couple of years. To prepare industry for the increased needs, the agency presented about $40 billion worth of opportunities in its first-ever DLA Industry Day last week.
A new focus on areas like additive manufacturing, data management and predictive analysis using artificial intelligence will also help posture the agency to quickly respond to the military’s increasing needs.
“Our J6 [DLA Information Operations] is doing some phenomenal, cutting-edge work that in many cases is the envy of the Department of Defense, certainly various agencies,” Williams said. “One of the ways, as we move forward, that we’re looking at becoming more productive is through all of these enterprise enablers.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2019 will also shape DLA’s future by mandating that DoD reduce spending by 25 percent, the director said.
“What I want you to understand is, they are not saying DLA is taking a 25 percent reduction,” he said. The 25 percent savings is departmentwide and the chief management officer is tasked with making sure these changes won’t cause inefficiencies.
The NDAA also calls for a 10 percent reduction in cost-recovery rates, the margin DLA charges its customers to cover its operating costs. DLA already had plans to reduce the rate, so while that guidance is significant, it shouldn’t have a negative impact on the agency, the director continued.
Other efforts Williams expects to guide DLA’s progress next year are the goal to continue improving warfighter support and audit readiness. He cited the Real Property Task Force as one example of the agency’s commitment to achieving a clean audit. The task force of over 400 employees spent the past six months accounting for almost 100 percent of the agency’s property. The findings will be a centerpiece of the agency’s next audit.
“That said, it’s only one aspect of our audit, and you’re going to hear more from your supervisors about things we’ll have to do to get reorganized to get after some of those other difficult areas in our audit,” he said.
An upcoming transformation of the Joint Logistics Operations Center is also expected to help DLA increase warfighter readiness through enhanced integration across DLA Headquarters and its geographically separated major subordinate commands, Williams said. Among the changes will be the opportunity for rotational assignments at the JLOC and a renaming of the center as it is redesigned to advance synchronization among various activities.
The DLA Dashboard, created early this year, is another tool the agency is using to increase warfighter readiness, the director noted. The Dashboard consolidates service-owned data with information from DLA programs like the Enterprise Business System and gives a near real-time view of the status of key weapons systems and platforms.
To provide logistics support during extended operations, the agency is in the early stages of establishing a new Global Logistics Support Contract that enables DLA to deploy contractors on short notice to conduct standard DLA missions, he said. About 90 employees deployed to support relief efforts following Hurricane Florence. Such deployments typically last no more than 60 days.
“We’ve come to the reality that if it extends into something much longer we’ve got to have a contract capability,” the director said.
The director also updated employees on a recent study of telework use, which he called a valuable resource.
“I want to dispel any rumors about telework going away. That simply is not true,” he said.
The study, conducted by independent organizations Denison and Zylter using Culture Survey data and focus groups with DLA supervisors, revealed that employees feel as productive or more productive teleworking as when working in the office. Telework also ensures the agency can continue operating during emergencies or inclement weather. More analysis is needed regarding teleworkers’ ability to contribute to collective tasks and the value of face-to-face contact, as well as concern among supervisors about “extensive telework,” which still needs to be defined.
“There’ve been no decisions made up to this point, but what I will tell you is telework continues to be very favorable. There are no immediate changes,” Williams said.
The director also highlighted future events such as the release of Culture Survey results in October; the Combined Federal Campaign, which runs through early January; the DLA Ball, Nov. 1; and the Annual Holiday Social and Tree Lighting, Dec. 6.
Williams’ signature “Ya Done Good’ Awards were presented to:
• Mary Davis, DLA Acquisition, for expert resource stewardship resulting in a marked improvement in the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund.
• David Missey, DLA Information Operations, for volunteering for projects affecting software development, server infrastructure issues in SIPRnet workstation performance and improving vulnerability remediation efforts.
• Sherry Savage, DLA Small Business Programs, for providing critical support to Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.
• Dave Wallis, DLA Acquisition, for working with Defense Acquisition University to build, roll out and schedule the DLA Pricing Class.
• Matthew Pugliese, DLA Intelligence, for coordinating and sharing information with law enforcement and investigative services that helped prevent multiple deliveries of stolen goods.
Eric Kirchner from DLA’s Research and Development Additive Manufacturing Program was also recognized for preventing a potential tragedy July 31. Kirchner was sitting in the cafeteria on his lunch break when he noticed a distressed co-worker chocking, unable to breathe. He quickly and calmly performed the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging an obstruction in his co-worker’s air passage.
A video of the event can be viewed online by those with a Common Access Card.