News | Feb. 24, 2022

New Industry Engagement Plan maintains DLA’s focus on strong partnerships

By Beth Reece

Enabling and supporting a secure defense industrial base remains a Defense Logistics Agency priority according to an updated Industry Engagement Plan that outlines five focus areas expected to facilitate better acquisition outcomes.  

The new 15-page plan refreshes the 2018 version by reflecting changes in the acquisition environment and incorporating DLA’s latest Strategic Plan, which prioritizes modernizing acquisition and supply chain management.

“In order to further strengthen the partnership between DLA and its industry base, we must begin from a point of common understanding. With that in mind, I ask that all stakeholders – our suppliers as well as the DLA workforce and government partners – familiarize themselves with the plan,” DLA Acquisition Director Matthew Beebe says in his message in the Industry Engagement Plan. 

The focus areas are the same as those in the previous plan but include some new initiatives. Each area is critical to helping American businesses compete and strengthening the resilience of the nation’s supply chains, Beebe added.

Under the Supplier Communication and Interaction focus area, DLA recognizes industry engagement as key to achieving successful acquisition strategies and improving readiness. The agency reaffirms its commitment to frank and open communication through interaction with industry associations and events such as industry days that focus on particular supply chains, supplier conferences and industry site visits.

New in the Balancing Business Decisions and Fiduciary Responsibilities area is DLA’s effort to implement category management principles that leverage common contracts and best practices to achieve savings and efficiencies while also balancing the benefits of small business participation. DLA must also continue complying with laws and regulations such as the Buy American Act and Berry Amendment.

“Striking this balance, while also promoting a fully fair, open and competitive marketplace, is not always easy, especially when we must make value determinations that ensure business decisions don’t negatively outweigh warfighter mission needs,” the plan reads. 

The biannual DLA Supplier Survey that measures suppliers’ experience doing business with DLA during contract solicitation and post-award processes remains a component of the plan through the third focus area: Supplier Feedback Management and Advocacy. The agency is working to improve how it collects and assesses information about market segments, as well.

“This will lead to an ability to provide access to commercial data sources to quickly create supplier profiles and industry overviews that go beyond readily available public resources,” according to the plan. Such data should also reduce the time it takes DLA to determine fair and reasonable prices. 

The fourth focus area, Drive Efficiencies and Innovation in Our Business, covers DLA’s goal of using innovative, efficient approaches that result in better acquisitions and improve business processes. The agency is looking to leverage rather than duplicate commercial supply chains and incorporate solutions such as reverse engineering and automated procurement. 

Assess and Mitigate Supply Chain Risk is the final focus area and includes collaborative efforts to stop counterfeit parts, avoid fraud and cyber vulnerabilities, and address diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages. 

DLA’s partnership with industry is more important than ever since COVID-19 and other threats have reemphasized supply chain vulnerability, said Tim Stark, chief of the DLA Industry Engagement Program Office. 

“We saw the pressure that put on our ability to get the products we needed from industry to the warfighter, and now we’re seeing supply chain disruptions with the ports backed up,” he said. “All of these things make it really critical for DLA to form good partnerships with industry to meet challenges.”

The Industry Engagement Plan also includes advice for businesses wanting to partner with DLA and points of contact for over a dozen offices.  

In fiscal 2021, DLA generated over $41 billion in revenue, $13 billion with small businesses and over $5 billion in support to whole-of-government customers. It also partnered with over 10,000 suppliers with 10,000 awards daily.