News | Jan. 6, 2021

DLA COVID-19 Task Force leader equips leaders with decision-making data

By Beth Reece

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of 11 stories highlighting individual and team contributions to DLA’s pandemic support.

Lee Dvonch never worked harder in his 16 years with the Defense Logistics Agency than he did in 2020.

“It’s been worth it. Everybody in the country has felt the effects of this pandemic personally, but I’ve also been able to see the impact DLA has had sending personal protective equipment to warfighters and across the nation,” he said.

As the head of DLA’s COVID-19 Task Force, Dvonch has overseen the production of daily and weekly summaries that detail simultaneous efforts from DLA’s major subordinate commands to order and ship vital supplies to troops stationed around the world, nationwide nursing homes and surge test sites, the Strategic National Stockpile and others.

The updates helped senior leaders at DLA, the Defense Department and White House Supply Chain Task Force make timely decisions and prioritize commodity support with up-to-the-minute input from the MSCs, industrial sites, military account managers, suppliers, and experts in finance and acquisition. The team’s summaries included details like production lead times, delivery schedules and potential manufacturing delays.

“We needed to understand what the effects of COVID-19 were, how it was affecting our business, how it was affecting demand and how it affected our ability to satisfy that demand in every phase,” Dvonch said.

Reliance on DLA’s acquisition and distribution capabilities from federal customers like the Department of Health and Human Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency to meet America’s needs expanded DLA’s support beyond normal operations, he continued.

“As a result, there’s been several lines of effort, all of them with a lot of moving parts, different quantities and different suppliers,” he said.

Constantly evolving efforts made the work a challenge for Dvonch and what he called a loosely defined team of DLA Headquarters and MSC employees who maintained their regular duties while assigned to the task force. Read-aheads for normal senior leader meetings are usually completed 48 hours ahead of time, he said, but information can change three times in that time span during pandemic operations.

While the pace relaxed some by summer’s end, it rose again in the fall with requests from HHS to support surge test sites.

“While we knew the types of supplies they’d need, we didn’t always know how much or where it would be needed until very short notice, sometimes as little as a day before we needed to start moving supplies to surge sites,” Dvonch said.

DLA’s involvement distributing COVID-19 vaccines to DOD customers through Operation Warp Speed also brought new information needs in the fall as leaders and media representatives sought details on the agency’s experience with cold chain management and vaccine storage and shipping.

Dvonch said the amount of money and contract actions DLA contributed to the nation’s coronavirus response have impressed him, but his biggest takeaway is employees’ dedication.

“There are a lot of people who worked really late and really hard to get this job done. Not just on my team but across the agency, from people cutting contracts at record times to the men and women in our warehouses working overtime with little or no notice to ship stuff out,” he added.