DLA discusses opportunities, options with information technology vendors

By Amanda Neumann DLA Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency’s information technology vendors can help the agency be a world-class IT provider by becoming true partners on costs and services, DLA’s chief information officer said during a roundtable meeting May 11 at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.

Representatives from more than 20 information technology companies, such as Adobe, Oracle and Apple, gave the agency their input.

“We really want this to be an open forum where we can tell you some of the things that we’re working on on the DLA side, and for you all to ask us questions or provide us with some ideas, because we are really looking to become more efficient in the capabilities that we deliver for DLA and (the Department of Defense),” DLA Information Operations Director Kathy Cutler said in her opening remarks.

To achieve that goal, DLA will need to reduce its IT footprint and adopt enterprise models and processes, Cutler said, as well as deliver capabilities faster and match skill sets to the needs of the organization.

Over the next few years, DLA will cut almost 200 redundant applications out of its current inventory, Cutler said. She also said the agency is in the first phases of reducing its logistics databases, which take up a lot of space, and moving to an enterprise data warehouse concept.

“We also want to eliminate infrastructure,” she said. “We don’t want to house anything we don’t have to house anymore in DLA. We want to move to (the Defense Information Systems Agency) or we want to move to a cloud provider. So we are really looking for the opportunities to shed all of that and … figure out what is the hosting strategy that we want to employ in DLA.”

DLA also plans to modernize its two remaining data centers, located in Tracy, California, and Dayton, Ohio, and focus on licensing efficiencies, areas where Cutler said she hopes the IT vendors will help.

“We really want to make sure we’re getting the best use of the licensing arrangements that we have,” she said. “Right now, we have stuff that we don’t even know we have, and we aren’t using it, so we need to figure out with your help what we should be using, what we can eliminate and what do we need across DLA to provide the capabilities that we need to provide.”

Cutler said some of the biggest challenges facing the agency are in its support and response functions, which have resulted in long delays to customers. Although the agency has reduced some of the wait times from weeks to days, she admits there is still a long way to go.

“We want to have a world-class IT support and response,” she said. “We don’t have that today. We have a help desk in place; we have desk-side support in place. But it’s not what I would call world-class by any stretch, so we really need to work on that collectively so that we’re in control and we’re giving those end users the best experience they possibly can get. And we need active feedback on customer issues. We don’t have that today. There are times when customers go days, weeks, months without us responding. And there are lots of reasons for that, but to me, that’s not an acceptable situation to be in as we move forward.”

Other topics discussed included strategic technology, stakeholder integration services and DLA IT contracting initiatives.