During the DLA Director’s inaugural visit to DLA Distribution in May, he was in the process of developing the Agency’s seven-year strategic plan. On Oct. 27, he returned to the field activity’s headquarters in New Cumberland, Pa., to update the workforce on the main tenants of the now complete plan.
“The last time I came and visited you I briefed you on our strategic plan, which my staff and I were in the process of finalizing. Today, I’m here to tell you about the things I’ve seen and learned since completing the plan, and how each of the plan’s goals affects the work that you do,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch.
The plan’s first goal focuses on the Agency’s number one priority: the warfighter. A major objective in supporting that goal, said Busch, is forming partnerships with the combatant commands that motivate them to opt for DLA’s services, recognizing DLA as best value support. Referencing the Ebola crisis roughly one year prior, he reminded the Distribution workforce of the benefits that arose from DLA’s reputation.
“During United Assistance, when the U.S. Africa Command director for Logistics Major General [James] Vechery got the call to support the Army’s Ebola Treatment Units, he grabbed [DLA Europe and Africa Commander] Colonel Elizabeth Keough and said ‘You’re coming along.’ He already knew what DLA was doing, and was a huge fan. Although everything seemed to be a death sentence, there was hope from the foundation we built together.”
Busch also recalled an impromptu visit to Miami, where he was asked to brief President Obama on DLA’s support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “I was called down to Miami to the National Hurricane Center to brief the President on our support to natural disasters. It turns out that FEMA’s administrator, Craig Fugate, a huge fan of DLA, had requested our presence. He runs a small team, and looks at DLA as his ‘logistics backstop’. So, at his urging, I spoke to our partnership with FEMA, our national-level response and our fuel industry partners.”
Continuing his discussion on DLA’s Whole of Government support, another objective under the ‘Warfighter Support’ goal, the director praised DLA Distribution San Joaquin, Calif.’s recent support to the National Forest Service. In May 2014, DLA’s west coast strategic distribution center took on the storage and distribution of nearly 300 items used by the Forest Service to fight the peak fire season in the Pacific Northwest. As a result of increased fires this season, the amounts of materiel and orders have increased significantly from previous years.
“We were asked to establish a distribution network for these items, and we did. And now the workload is increasing, and the guys out in San Joaquin are just knocking it out of the park. They are doing exceptional work.”
People and Culture
Opening his dialogue on ‘People and Culture,’ the plan’s second goal, Busch announced that the Denison Survey, which measures employee opinion on cultural and organizational effectiveness, will be readministered to the DLA workforce in March. “I recognize that administering this survey will especially be a challenge for Distribution’s workforce due to the high density of wage grade employees who don’t have easy access to a computer. But we need the feedback from this workforce.”
Busch also urged Distribution leadership to continue building employee resiliency, particularly through participation in DLA’s many wellness and fitness programs. “We need to ensure we are affording every employee the opportunity to access these programs.”
Speaking briefly about goal three, Busch reminded the workforce that the Agency’s priorities are constantly evolving and that Distribution needs to remain aligned with the Department of Defense business objectives. “Five years ago, would we have thought about saying we need a fighter presence in Bulgaria? Maybe not; but now we have a whole network making sure fighters are ready. And the network of distribution support we’ve created, particularly DLA Distribution Europe’s support to [U.S. Army Europe], is very well known and appreciated.”
Building on his point that DLA needs to continue to evolve, Busch urged the workforce to “become more conversant” in the language of Performance-Based Logistics, an initiative he says will allow DLA to remain competitive and maintain lower costs, a major focus of goal four.
PBLs enable contracts to focus on outcomes, rather than individual transactions, and can motivate manufacturers to produce premium quality products, saving customers money through reductions in rework, which also results in less parts and labor expense for the vendor. DLA’s inclusion in PBL contracts would allow DLA to participate in the supply and distribution of emergent weapons systems, a large business driver.
“DLA can’t count on the government to send us work as our birthright. If we’re going to go out and compete for work, we need to do it through PBLs. Traditional government sustainment processes are not what programs are defaulting to; this is a key issue for distribution and supply chains. It’s critical to where DLA will be in a few years.”
The fourth goal Busch discussed looks to optimize the end-to-end supply chain; something Busch says Distribution is getting very adept at doing. Referencing DLA Distribution’s developing support to the refugee crisis in the Middle East, he lauded the workforce’s actions in ensuring items flowed to their final destination seamlessly.
“In September we received a request from the State Department to provide $150 million in humanitarian relief in support of the several million refugees and internally displaced persons resulting from unrest in Iraq and Syria. There are now approximately 900 containers of humanitarian assistance materiel moving between DLA, the State Department, and nongovernmental organizations for final distribution. You currently have folks in Kuwait and Turkey working the details of those handoffs, and they are doing a great job at planning the movement of those critical items to ensure no delay.”
In closing, Busch promised the workforce that 2016’s would remain unchanged from the year prior. “We will be maintaining the course. The national security environment is changing and your work is representative of that. As you look to build new capabilities in new areas of the world such as Oman and Djibouti, you need to focus on how to remain effective and efficient for the warfighter.”