News | Sept. 8, 2021

40-year procurement veteran recalls early years at DLA

By Dianne Ryder DLA Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: DLA is celebrating 60 years of logistics support since it was created Oct. 1, 1961. The theme is “Forged by History, Focused on the Future.” For more stories, videos, and graphics highlighting the agency’s history and people, go to the DLA 60th Anniversary page. 

Procurement Analyst Anne Burleigh has witnessed more than two-thirds of the Defense Logistics Agency’s history. July 20 marked the 40th anniversary of her entry into civil service.

Burleigh studied music and liberal arts at the University of Richmond. After marrying, she worked full-time as an administrative assistant and attended night classes at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1978, she earned a degree in early childhood education and accepted a position teaching third grade. She found teaching wasn’t a good fit for her, however, and went back to being an administrative assistant while searching for a new career. 

Two years later, she took the Professional and Administrative Career Examination and was hired as a contract specialist at DLA Aviation, then the Defense General Supply Center, in Richmond, Virginia. She quickly moved through the ranks to price analyst and then procurement analyst with a focus on policy writing. 

“It turned out to be a very rewarding field. I love writing and doing research, so I’ve stayed with policy ever since,” she said.

In 1985, Burleigh’s husband’s job brought them to Northern Virginia and she was hired by DLA Energy, then the Defense Fuel Supply Center at Cameron Station. A year later, she accepted a position in the DLA Headquarters Acquisition Policy Office and is still there today. 

Burleigh recalled working in DGSC’s converted warehouses in the 1980s, sitting in a long row of gray, metal desks with a black rotary phone. It was so cold in the winter she sometimes wore gloves, and in the summer industrial sized fans cooled the air. Large clouds of cigarette smoke billowed overhead every afternoon because government buildings hadn’t yet been declared smoke-free environments. 

When Burleigh’s office first got computers, she was so used to writing things out by hand she struggled to adjust. 

“Sometimes I would be sitting at my desk surreptitiously writing on paper because I wasn’t used to drafting documents on a computer. Now, the thought of doing that is unimaginable,” she said.

Burleigh has seen massive changes to acquisition policies in her career. The 1984 Competition in Contracting Act required federal agencies to obtain full, open competition with limited exceptions. The same year, the Federal Acquisition Regulation System consolidated the Armed Services Procurement Regulation and other individual agency regulations into one government-wide regulation with limited authority for agency supplements. 

Other changes involved the 1994 Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act, which established a preference for using commercial “off-the-shelf” items. The 1996 Federal Acquisition Reform Act then established a commercial item exception from the requirement for certified cost or pricing data and authorized use of simplified acquisition procedures for acquisitions not to exceed $5 million, now $7.5 million, when the contracting officer reasonably expects offers will include only commercial items. Burleigh represented DLA on the team that developed additional guidance to implement those acts. 

“It was a difficult policy to write because there were competing interests,” she said. “We wanted to take advantage of the commercial marketplace, but at the same time there are unique requirements that the commercial world doesn’t have to comply with.”

She now represents DLA on several acquisition regulation committees. 

“It’s pretty interesting to be working at that level to develop government-wide and DOD-unique policies,” she said. “It’s really important not only to implement the higher regulations or statutes but also to make it as clear and concise as possible so people understand what they need to do when they read it.”

Burleigh has been the editor for the Defense Logistics Acquisition Directive, DLA’s supplement to the FAR and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation, since 2013 and maintains the online version for government-wide and public access. 

“I remember the first time that the DLAD was put on a computer,” she said of the late 80s. “Our administrative assistant had to key in the entire thing.”

Burleigh said DLA’s resiliency initiatives help her stay satisfied in a job she enjoys. 

“When I found out that we could use administrative leave for exercise, at first I thought it was a rumor,” she said. “The quality of the gym and the instructors has been astounding and such a benefit.” 

Other initiatives such as telework, sexual assault prevention resources and the Employee Assistance Program provide extra incentive for Burleigh to remain with DLA.

“I am proud to be working here; I think a lot has been accomplished. It’s tremendously important to the welfare of our troops and their families, and I’m glad to be part of that,” she said, adding that new requirements addressing environmental issues and the cost of greenhouse gas emissions keeps her job challenging and interesting.