Fort Belvoir, Virginia, March 5, 2020 —
The Defense Logistics Agency manages the global supply chain for all the military services, but employees may not realize how rapidly DLA’s support to the Coast Guard is expanding.
Jeffrey Crosson has been the customer account manager for the Coast Guard in DLA’s Whole of Government Division since December 2018.
Crosson and his Coast Guard counterpart, Lt. Cdr. Sonya Leibowitz, deputy chief for the Coast Guard Office of Logistics Policy Management Division, have been coordinating the Feb. 27 DLA/Coast Guard partnership day, the first DLA has hosted since 2016. The forum provided an opportunity for discussions about budget, sustainment, long-term contract analysis and dashboard capabilities.
Crosson said DLA analyzed the Coast Guard purchases and found they were using many of the same contractors as DLA.
“Because they’re using their own contracts, they don’t have the economy of scale that we have,” Crosson said. “We’re looking at how they can leverage our long-term contracts and buy through us to not only decrease the level of work on their contracting force, but achieve better pricing.”
One initiative Crosson is helping the Coast Guard with is the service’s uniform distribution system.
“Right now, they do a lot of it organically. They’re the only service that manages their inventory and their distribution themselves,” he said.
The Coast Guard is also adopting a uniform that is very similar to the Navy Type III. Crosson said once DLA receives the Coast Guard’s specifications, agency personnel can apply their expertise and knowledge to help with the transition as well as the old inventory.
Leibowitz oversees the Coast Guard’s uniform distribution system.
“We’re looking at redoing the entire way that we distribute uniforms to the Coast Guard,” she said, adding that they’ll be able to emulate DLA’s contract with the Navy and work with DLA to modernize the distribution process.
The Coast Guard is also taking advantage of DLA’s global tire program and working with DLA Distribution and DLA Disposition Services on reducing a number of their warehouses, Crosson said.
Increasing DLA’s support to the Coast Guard isn’t without challenges. “With the other services, we’re very much incorporated into their material readiness and maintenance readiness. The Coast Guard is still operating on some systems that are a little more antiquated and we can’t get the level of granularity on data,” he said. “We’re looking at information technology system upgrades that are going to talk better with our systems and we’re going to add them into our dashboard.”
Crosson also works closely with major subordinate command representatives like those at DLA Energy and DLA Troop Support since fuel, food and clothing accounts for most of the Coast Guard’s purchases. Each MSC also has a Coast Guard customer account representative.
The Coast Guard’s unique mission makes it challenging to support, Crosson continued.
“We don’t have the same volume that we have with the other services,” he said. “To be able to really have an impact, DLA has to think outside the box a little bit.”
Leibowitz agreed, adding, “We have all these missions that we cobble together, and our policy and ways of doing things come from all these different thought processes. I think DLA’s senior leadership understands that.”
Leibowitz also appreciates the instructive role DLA has taken on for the Coast Guard’s Logistics Operation Application Course. The two-day class trains supply officers to use DLA-specific applications.
Training and professional development are other potential areas of support.
“In the Coast Guard there are a lot of people doing logistics as a default of the job they’re in,” Crosson said. “The challenge and the interesting part is figuring out unique ways we can support. A lot of the models we use with the other services apply somewhat, but you have to tailor them to fit the Coast Guard mission and requirements.”
Although he’s an Army veteran, Crosson said he enjoys working with his Coast Guard counterparts.
“I’m still learning a lot of the culture and how they operate, and it’s interesting to have an outsider perspective,” he said. “There’s a ton of untapped potential; we just have to figure out how to leverage that.”
Leibowitz has been in her position for less than a year, but said she values DLA’s support and her regular interactions with Crosson.
“The fact that I have the senior leadership of DLA on board and that they’re really recognizing some of the Coast Guard initiatives has helped, because some of these things that I took over have been languishing for years,” she said. “It seems now that DLA is helping move a lot of these initiatives forward.”