News | June 3, 2019

Teamwork clears the decks at Navy warehouses

By DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs and South-East Region Staff DLA Disposition Services

The Navy, along with the other military services, has supported the Defense Department goal to achieve audit readiness, and the Defense Logistics Agency has been there to help.

The staff at the DLA Disposition Services site at Jacksonville, Florida, has been partnering with Navy units there since Vice Adm. Dixon Smith, the Navy’s deputy chief of naval operations, fleet readiness and logistics, assigned staff members at the Naval Supply System Command’s Fleet Logistics Center Jacksonville, or “FLC Jacksonville.” to conduct a pilot program dubbed “Material Exploratory Program Pilot” under the “Material Clean Sweep” umbrella.

Terry Surdyke, an area manager for DLA Disposition Services’ South-East region, said Navy Capt. Matthew Ott, commanding officer of FLC Jacksonville, “took the bull by the horns” to get the program going. Surdyke said Ott gathered the NAS Jacksonville logistics leadership together last September “to introduce the pilot and energize those of us tasked to execute.”

That meant dealing with several large warehouses full of military property to confirm items there were properly entered into an approved accountable property system of record. Surdyke was part of the team that Ott addressed. At the time, he remembers that DLA Disposition Services at Jacksonville had a large backlog of unprocessed receipts.

“We had a tiger team from DLA Disposition Services headquarters onsite helping, and we were working mandatory overtime,” Surdyke said. “Seeing all the warehouses full of military property was honestly a little daunting at first, but under Captain Ott’s steady and determined leadership, we just started the work.”

Surdyke said the first meeting covered the process to turn in excess property to DLA Disposition Services. A week later, Dennise Ribot, operations lead for the site, provided a more detailed training session to get things going. A truck from Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, the big naval aviation depot repair command that Surdyke said would actually be doing the turn-ins, was already coming to the site almost daily, so scheduling was not an issue. He also said there Navy civilian employees working at the depot who were already turning in property regularly, so DLA personnel were able to connect those new to the process in touch with them.

Because not all of the properly concerned had been fully identified or quantified, Surdyke said that processing time meant not everything was headed to DLA Disposition Services in the immediate future, which created a sort of metering logistics flow.

“It turned out that they could get through their part of identifying, quantifying, assessing internal Navy needs and producing turn-in documents about as fast as we could take their property, “ Surdyke said. “So we just got a steady flow thing going.”

Surdyke also credits Ott for assigning “some of his best and brightest to the project… and they developed a very professional playbook.”  That playbook contained all the background, detailed flow charts and discussion of the internal Navy work ahead. The data also included contact information to allow Navy units served by 19 other DLA Disposition Services sites that would eventually face the same challenges to follow Jacksonville’s lead.

Senior leaders from DLA Disposition Services also had meetings with the local Navy leadership, Surdyke took Kathy Atkins-Nunez, South-East Region manager, to a meeting and review progress to date. Later, DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon, joined Thomas W. Harker, assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller, and Smith for their audit roadshow in Jacksonville during March.

“We’re full partners with our Navy shipmates on this effort,” Cannon said.

Ott also considers DLA a partner along with others in Navy logistics and local tenant commands. He credits that partnerships with the success of MEPP at Jacksonville.

“We partnered to drive awareness and identify all material in our custody…. We catalogued it, and based on its condition, took steps to make it visible worldwide,” Ott said. “This sounds easy – it’s not. Our ability to sustain the fight today and tomorrow relies on material readiness, space optimization and teamwork. This project is a direct result of leveraging teamwork to achieve our goals.”

As of mid-April, Surdyke said the Jacksonville site had received more than 3,000 turn-in documents totaling almost 500,000 items valued at more than $60 million. But he stressed that those numbers do not tell the whole readiness story, because the work to properly account for all of the property allowed the Navy to keep almost as much for its immediate needs as the amounts turned into DLA.

“Undoubtedly we are generating material readiness and have sound principles ready for future implementation of MEPP at other installations throughout the enterprise,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jay McFarland, operations officer at FLC Jacksonville.