News | Sept. 23, 2021

DLA Acquisition connects employees, industry, academia

By DLA Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency continues strengthening bonds between acquisition professionals in government and industry through the Industry Academia Program.

DLA Acquisition runs the program by partnering with institutions like the universities of Virginia and North Carolina to design specialized training for GS-15s, GS-14s and high-performing GS-13s in acquisition-coded positions. Courses include Insights into Industry Management and Understanding the Government-Industry Relationship in Sustainment. 

Charmaine Camper, chief of DLA Acquisition’s Workforce Development Division, attended one of the first sessions following the program’s inception in April 2018. She now assesses potential candidates and submits them to DLA Acquisition Director Matthew Beebe and Deputy Director Roxanne Banks for final nominations.

Courses are offered two or three times a year. Insights into Industry Management, which lasts two weeks and is presented at UVA’s Darden School of Business in Charlottesville, Virginia, helps employees understand industry practices by examining financial reports and case studies. Students also participate in group discussions and practical exercises and hear from industry representatives and university professors. 

“The training also provides insights into challenges that industries are experiencing and opportunities for changes in how we do business with our partners,” Camper said. “It helps us think critically about our existing policies, processes and procedures for lessons learned, best practices and continuous improvement.”

DLA Energy Customer Operations Team Supervisor Marlin Ingram recently completed the Insights into Industry course and said it helped him view business processes more strategically by giving him an in-depth understanding of cash flow, profit, risk and contribution margin in industry decisions.

“The various case studies we reviewed highlighted the ways different companies function to have a successful organization and helped me understand how to incorporate some of their best practices to help my own organization,” Ingram said. 

The one-week Understanding the Government-Industry Relationship in Sustainment course is provided by UNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It helps senior acquisition officials who are GS-15s or senior executive service members grasp the intricacies of the government-industry relationship, industry-performance drivers, financial and decision-making processes, and incentive programs.

Camper said student feedback has been consistently positive since the program began. 

“We recognized a theme that stood out constantly in the feedback from attendees – the revelation that we really don’t know our industry partners like we should,” she said. “It illuminated the need for us in DLA to really get to know the companies we do business with. We need to keep in mind that there’s always room to improve our business practices, policies, processes and procedures to achieve a win-win outcome.”

About 25 acquisition employees are nominated for each session and even during the pandemic, students attended courses in person, observing strict COVID-19 protocols, Camper said.

Beebe sends out the call for nominations to senior leaders and training coordinators. Camper recommended eligible employees watch for the announcement and let their supervisors know they’re interested. 

“I cannot emphasize enough how valuable this training is,” she said. “The program leverages academia’s expertise in training and education, and they’re helping us design a program that targets certain areas that we need to know more about.”

Employees interested in the program can contact Camper at Charmaine.camper@dla.mil.