From delivering vital information to pilots flying missions over Afghanistan to providing the lay of the land to response teams after a hurricane, Defense Logistics Agency mapping support is critical to the warfighter as well as local and federal agencies.
Over the past year, the map catalog team from DLA Information Operations partnered with the Library of Congress and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to improve DLA’s process for providing the LOC unclassified map products.
“We took a look at the labor-intensive process of storing thousands and thousands of maps and thought, ‘We can be more efficient,’” said Robert Rogers, a program manager with DLA Information Operations.
DLA provides customers over 165,000 geospatial products, especially maps and charts. Among these are aeronautical charts, charts of oceans and other bodies of water and topographic maps for land operations. DLA also offers U.S. Geological Survey maps covering the entire United States, which can be used for natural disasters and training exercises.
By law, DLA sends one copy of every unclassified map it produces to the LOC. In the past, each unclassified map had to be printed, packaged and shipped by DLA. For each map, the LOC created a receipt, scanned it into electronic form and added it to its inventory. For 2017, this meant sending 6,853 hardcopy products to the library.
But this option — each map had to be printed or replicated by DLA Document Services — cost roughly $68,000 per year. Another $58,000 per year was required for DLA Distribution to handle packaging and shipping.
So the Information Operations team looked at developing a smarter solution with more affordable, value-added logistics support. Discussions with the LOC and NGA yielded the possibility of providing the LOC’s Geography and Map Division a hard drive containing the maps, rather than thousands of hardcopies.
DLA has tested and refined that process through 2018, sending LOC staff four quarters’ worth of hard drives, which they loaded into their system before programming software to categorize the products and make them available electronically to the LOC and the public.
LOC expects to approve the new process on a continuing basis sometime in the next three months. DLA expects the new process to save the Defense Department about $160,000 annually with a projected savings of $800,000 over the next five years. The process also gets the maps to customers quicker.
By reviewing end-to-end processes for efficiency and fiscal responsibility, Information Operations personnel showed how teamwork can lower costs while improving support to both the warfighter and other DLA customers.