DLA Director: Agency contributions to warfighter readiness rising

By Beth Reece

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Increases in material availability for the services and a call from the Department of Defense to take on warehousing and disposal of parts for the F-35 Lightning II are achievements Defense Logistics Agency employees can take pride in, the DLA director said April 24 in a Global Town Hall.

“I’m very proud to say that our material availability and support to the warfighter has dramatically increased in the last year and a half or so. And it’s very difficult to move that needle because we’re already at such a high level,” Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams said, noting that the biggest success is a 2.5% jump in the availability of hardware items.

In recognition of DLA’s contributions to warfighter readiness, DoD has asked the agency to take a major role in sustainment support for the F-35, one of the most expensive weapons systems in DoD’s history. DLA will assume a segment of the warehousing mission currently being done by Lockheed Martin and will partner with U.S. Transportation Command as it distributes parts throughout the world. The agency also expects to assume global disposition of F-35 parts, as well, Williams said.

The DLA Dashboard is another example of the agency transforming to meet warfighters needs, he continued. The Dashboard merges the military services’ readiness data with DLA business metrics by consolidating service-owned data with information from DLA programs like the Enterprise Business System, which the agency uses to conduct daily operations.

“For the first time in the history of our agency, on a daily basis – sometimes hourly – we’re able to track DLA’s performance and how it specifically impacts the readiness of service weapons systems,” the director said.

Auditability continues to be a priority. The 400-plus-member Real Property Inventory Team has completed inventory checks of property at 766 worldwide locations. Next is an assessment of all material in DLA Distribution warehouses, which includes $15 billion worth of DLA-owned material and $90 billion worth of service-owned material.

DLA’s support to allied and Whole of Government partners is also increasing, Williams said. Transactions in Foreign Military Sales for fiscal 2018 totaled $1.4 billion, a $200 million increase from fiscal 2017. The agency also provided $1.6 billion in support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, as well as $12 million worth of support in fencing and fuel to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. And support to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is reaching a new level as the VA begins to acquire supplies through DLA Troop Support’s Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor Program.

The director announced the release of an amended DLA Strategic Plan, which doesn’t override previous lines of effort and objectives. New objectives are: Space Enterprise, Support to DoD Reform, Cybersecurity, Improve Demand Projections to Reduce Errors, and Transform Cost Structure to Reduce Rates and Improve Transparency.

Williams referred to cash conservation measures recently implemented to reduce DLA’s cash balance.

“Every dollar that we spend on TDY and other expenses is a dollar that’s taken away from support to the warfighter. With that said, I’ve tried to make it targeted,” he said.

The director initially halted tuition assistance but has reinstated it due to employee feedback on the popular program.

“I’m listening to you and I’m understanding the impact,” he added.

Though official travel and training are being limited, courses and certification needed to keep employees current on job skills is still permitted. And rather than canceling training events and conferences, fewer employees will attend.

Addressing People and Culture initiatives, Williams pointed out that the 2018 Culture Survey had a 63% response rate. DLA’s scores improved overall by eight points, but renewed focus is needed in three areas: Capability Development, Leadership Engagement and Cross-Functional Coordination and Integration.

“Where we really get better is the action plan that we develop and execute. I would ask you to be involved in knowing what the action plan is for your various sections and helping us improve,” he said.

Though he was concerned about a potentially damaging impact on the workforce by the adoption of the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program, Williams said the new employee rating system has been a positive thing. Employee recognition increased in the first cycle from the pre-DPMAP cycle, with cash awards rising from 79% to 86%; quality step increases, 3% to 5%; and time-off awards, 18% to 48%.

The agency is observing Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month throughout April, but prevention of sexual harassment and assault is always a priority, Williams said. Managers throughout the agency champion prevention efforts, he added, and action to bring justice is swift. Between April 2017 and April 2018, three employees were suspended for sexual harassment. Between April 2016 and December 2018, two employees were reprimanded, two suspended, one demoted and seven removed from DLA.

Regarding workplace safety, safety staffs are now located at all of DLA’s major subordinate commands and regional commands. Five DLA locations have been designated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as Volunteer Protection Program star sites, and seven locations are seeking VPP star recognition.
 
Williams also singled out individuals and teams who garnered recent recognition from other Department of Defense and federal organizations.

Individuals:

• John Lockwood, DLA Information Operations’ program manager for robotic process automation, was selected for Federal Computer Week Magazine’s Federal 100 Awards.
• Donald Rodgers, DLA Installation Management chief in Richmond, Virginia, has been named to the DoD Fire and Emergency Services’ Hall of Fame.
• Diana Stewart, acting director of the Command Support Office at DLA Troop Support, has been named the Federal Managers Association’s Manager of the Year.
• Army Master Sgt. Kahlil Warner, noncommissioned officer in charge of current operations at DLA Distribution, has been named the Senior Enlisted Member of the Year by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Teams:

• DLA Distribution at San Joaquin, California, received the Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence.
• DLA Distribution at San Joaquin also won the 2018 DoD Voluntary Protection Program group award for exceptional performance in the implementation and sustainment of a safety management system.
• The DLA Small Business Office has been nominated for the DoD Vanguard Award, which recognizes exemplary contributions in acquisition that influence small business procurement.
• The DLA Energy Direct Delivery Program has achieved the Best in Class! designation from the Office of Management and Budget.
• DLA was recognized as Best Midsized Component in the 2018 Annual Secretary of Defense Disability Awards.
• The DLA Acquisition workforce was recognized for Best Continuous Learning Program compliance among Fourth Estate agencies for exceeding the goal rate of 95%.
• The DLA National Capital Region Combined Federal Campaign team won the Summit Award/Participation Achievement Award for a 3% increase in total dollars raised to $268,000 and a 2% increase in participation from last year.

The director also presented his signature “Ya Done Good” award to four employees and one team. Recipients were:

• Air Force Reserve Maj. Aaron Chen for being the technical point of contact and site lead for DLA Distribution in Djibouti;
• Kisha Mathurin for her work in DLA Disposition Services in Afghanistan;
• Melissa O’Kelly of DLA Aviation for her work with DLA Support Team – Kuwait;
• Wendy White of DLA Human Resources for her work as a labor and employee relations specialist at Tracy, California; and
• DLA Energy’s Aerospace Energy Team for providing bulk propellant support to the National Reconnaissance Office Launch 71 Mission.

DLA employees can view a video of the event. A Common Access Card certificate is required to view the video.