1) What is your name and where do you work?
I am Madeline Pera. I work in DLA Information Operations Customer Service Branch, DAAS Defense Automated Addressing System Organization. I work at DLA Troop Support Center in Philadelphia.
2) How long have you been with DLA and in Civil Service?
I have worked for the government for 46 years. I have been with DLA for 46 years - soon to be 47.
3) What is the story behind why you joined Civil Service:
I was aware of the many opportunities available for advancement at DSCP Defense Supply Center Philadelphia. I was a young high school graduate and my father told me that I needed to take the Civil Service exam before applying for a government position. My father was my mentor. He was a refrigeration mechanic who worked for DLA Installation Services and he helped me get the application to take the civil service test for the clerk typist position. I remember being called up for an interview in the fall of 1974. I was hired and I began my Civil Service career in December 1974. I had to resign from where I was working as a private secretary for two private detectives in center city Philadelphia. I loved that job, but I knew that the salary and the ability to advance with DLA far exceeded the earning potential of a secretary at that time. I was interested in the myriad of different positions that would be available to me.
4) What jobs have you had at DLA and at what locations?
I started my Civil Service career as a GS2 clerk typist working at the Army Support Center Philadelphia in 1974.
In 1975, I joined the DLA team at Defense Personnel Support Center as a supply clerk for the Installation Support Center.
Around 1978, I applied for a procurement clerk position with the Directorate of Medical Materiel. I was the medical receptionist and an assistant to the bid officer where I observed and recorded/documented bids. I then took a position in the Emergency Supply Operation Center (ESOC) in Medical where I quickly advanced into an Upward Mobility Program GS 5/7/9 position as a supply systems specialist.
I spent a majority of the 1980’s in this position, which I found to be quite rewarding. We handled all types of emergency requests for supply assistance from the services around the world - life and death emergencies and critical needs support. We were a cradle to grave organization. During these years at the end of shift, we would brief the staff duty officer when life and death missions were ongoing. I would say this was one of the most rewarding positions I have held in my Civil Service career.
I then lateraled into the Medical Directorate’s inventory management field to position myself for advancement. I was an inventory manager and I managed over 200 drug/narcotic NSNs.
I worked through Desert Shield/Storm in January 1990-1991. I remember the build-up and the support. We all took our positions seriously, and many of us offered our support to staff overtime if required. We had mid-week murder boards to prepare us for the weekly staff meetings regarding stock positions and supply availability. This was the most intense time of my career where meetings and a strong structure of checks and balances existed.
I applied for and received my GS11 in the early 1990s with the same inventory management team at the Directorate of Medical Materiel managing both narcotics and dental materiel and gloves.
At some point, the directorate changed their business structure, and we became integrated with the contracting team. My position was then a business specialist. I worked under a contracting manager who handled distribution and pricing agreements requirements and still retained the inventory management of all narcotics.
I then joined the business office for the Medical Directorate. At that time, in the late 1990’s, they were in the early stages of putting together a small staff to be liaisons between their technical team, the medical contracting officers, and the vendors and their IT staffs. The program was the Electronic Catalog (ECAT). I remember having an initial staff of four associates who worked to educate and facilitate ECAT specifications, electronic data interchange (EDI), business rules and EDI testing. Most of my career has surrounded the Medical ECAT Program in one way or another.
I was promoted to a business systems specialist in 2000. I oversaw ECAT EDI testing for the Medical Directorate and obtained an associate to support the growing ECAT expansion of vendors that required testing. I was selected to work in the EDI office just a few months later.
At some point our organization changed again and we became part of J6 Information Operations – J62.
In 2009, my position changed to IT specialist (Sys/Analysis) and I handled all of the ECAT EDI testing and systems support for the directorate while accumulating additional responsibilities.
In 2012, I was selected for a four-month, temporary promotion as a branch supervisor IT specialist.
After the J6 reorganization, it’s been about three years now that I find myself with the DAAS organization - continuing the position/duties of EDI monitoring, EDI testing and supporting the DLA customers’ requests for assistance. I continue to have a wonderful and interesting career.
5) What are the biggest changes in the workplace?
Of course, the computers! The PC in the 80’s and 90’s. Everything changed when the computers were introduced in the workplace. We did inventory management, which back then were large paper reports the size of our desks. We would review all the data and determine the amount of an item we needed to recommend a stock purchase and where we needed the item to be sent to the different supply depots. We would enter the supply information into a central terminal and would create key punched cards. Those cards were run into a central computer to gather buy/support data. Then the PCs were introduced into our office, and I remember we all had to get accustomed to looking for the same information on 12 to 13 different screens. We toggled back and forth to obtain information, which we all thought was initially cumbersome, but soon realized the convivence and ease of use. No more key punch cards - buy recommendations automatically registered.
Getting used to sending emails was also a big change. We used to type every letter on a typewriter and send it via inter office envelopes. We kept a copy of the letter and physically filed it with all correspondence in filing cabinets. I remember when we had hard copies of everything. You can imagine the space required to hold all those physical files.
Other big changes - the cell phone, the alternate work schedule and telework. Let me just say that DLA is an employer that respects its employees and provides us with the most beneficial work environment and work schedules.
6) What made you stay with DLA?
Many reasons - the job security, pay, upward mobility, pension and all the benefits. But most of all, I am patriotic. I am still proud to support our troops. Being able to support, even in a small way, the warfighter for our country is extremely satisfying and rewarding.
7) It’s DLAs 60th Anniversary---60 years of being an agency. What are your thoughts about the anniversary and DLA’s Legacy?
First of all, I cannot believe that DLA was only 14 years old when I joined the DLA Team in 1975. Oh my word, how time flies.
The Defense Logistics Agency is a premier organization of professionals gathered for the soul purpose of providing logistic support to the warfighter in support of our great country. In the scheme of history, it is still a young organization - still expanding, learning, changing and evolving into an even a more dynamic organization. With every new iteration of technological advancement, DLA is always preparing for change to take the next leap into more futuristic advancements. Change is what is real and constant within DLA. You can count on it!
I am proud to work for such a successful organization for all these years. I offer my congratulations to the Defense Logistics Agency on its “60th Anniversary.” May GOD bless all your future endeavors.