Distribution’s Gish retires with distinction

By Jessica Roman DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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Sonya Gish, Defense Logistics Agency Distribution’s director of Distribution Policy and Processing, has retired with more than 30 years of dedicated service.  On Dec. 22, Gish received the DLA Exceptional Civilian Service Award for her efforts throughout the years in moving DLA Distribution forward as the premier storage and distribution provider in the Department of Defense.

Gish began her government career in 1985 as a computer programmer with New Cumberland Army Depot.  Over the next 23 years, Gish progressed through the ranks in the Information Technology Department, before transferring to Operations at DLA Distribution in 2008.

Throughout her years as a computer specialist, information technology specialist, and supply management specialist, Gish developed the knowledge, skills, abilities, and managerial competencies needed to succeed at higher levels.  “She sought the most difficult challenges and exceeded performance expectations,” said Distribution deputy commander Twila Gonzales, Senior Executive Service.  “Her continuous promotions and numerous awards attest to her successes.”

Over the past several years, Gish has been instrumental in DLA Distribution’s efforts in Audit Readiness and Standardization.  She led the way in redesigning comprehensive Distribution Standard System Role-Based Access Controls to enable the organization to integrate into the Account Management and Provisioning System for Distribution Standard System access.  The redesign allowed for the Distribution Standard System to go from over 50 user roles to eight primary roles per distribution site, optimally positioning DLA Distribution for Audit Readiness success by providing a traceable path for material entering and exiting DLA Distribution facilities. 

“Gish worked tirelessly to lead her team in the development of engineered standards, which became the foundation for the audit readiness effort across 24 global distribution centers,” said Gonzales.  By the end of fiscal year 2014, her efforts resulted in the development and/or validation of 746 engineered standards across 20 wholesale sites, as identified through observations of standard work processes.  Engineered standards are developed for each site based on standard processes and unique environmental factors. By the end of fiscal year 2015, engineered standards were also developed across seven retail sites.

Setting the bar for retention and retrieval of process and Audit Readiness documentation, Gish led efforts to standardize the use of Electronic Document Management Services. She led a joint team of DLA Distribution and DLA Document Services subject matter experts that identified process gaps, which, when corrected, will increase use of the system, improve how documents are scanned into the system, and increase retrieval of documentation.

“Gish’s team provided exceptional support to the DLA headquarters efforts to establish an enterprise framework for inventory reconciliations as part of DLA’s financial assertion for audit readiness,” said Gonzales.  These reconciliations provide accountability for all DLA inventory on the financial record.  This includes both mission stock in the Distribution Standard System and kitting components.

In addition, her team worked with headquarters, Information Operations and the military services to provide data for similar processes supporting the military services’ preparation for assertion.  These efforts are in addition to the ongoing Quantitative Location Reconciliations that occur at end of day and periodically throughout the year.  Her team provided education, documentation and recommendations to DLA headquarters and the Supply Centers to improve processes and controls on inventory that is stored outside of the Distribution Standard System in vendor-managed and service-managed sites.

Working closely with the DLA Office of Operations Research and Resource Analysis, Gish and her team developed the DLA Distribution headquarters staffing model.  DORRA conducted over 120 interviews and 40 survey sheets.  The model was approved for execution in May 2015 by DLA Distribution’s commanding general, and the model was turned over for utilization and maintenance.

In addition to the staffing model, Gish and her team led an initiative to standardize position descriptions for all series with DLA Distribution, including mission, mission support, supervision, and general and administrative support.  In August 2014, the team began to standardize the major duties within all 28 functional areas.  Gish led efforts to research and reference process manuals, process maps, and standard operating procedures to develop major duties workbooks for each functional area, and ensure all duties were aligned with Audit Readiness efforts.

In fiscal year 2015, Gish led her Shelf Life Special Commodities team to successfully support the shipment of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals to DLA Distribution Yokosuka, Japan, and Kadena Air Force Base, Japan.  Gish’s team responded in an exceptional manner to support the critical requirement for the Japanese encephalitis vaccine (JEVEX or Ixiaro) at hospitals and immunization clinics within the AOR.  JVEX is highly unstable and extremely sensitive to variations in temperature, and working with DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pa., a total of ten active temperature-controlled containers were delivered at a constant temperature ranging from two degrees to eight degrees Celsius.

Making testing new technology a priority, Gish and her team began a pilot to test the use of portable tablets, which are used in a variety of functions and process.  Her staff, along with subject matter experts from DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pa., participated in a functional demonstration of the Dell Venue 11 Pro tablets.  The demonstration included a Dell product that provides mobile computing capability in a Distribution environment.  This demonstration proved the capabilities of the technology necessary to perform warehousing functions, including pick, stow, re-warehouse, and pack.   The Dell Venue tablets successfully performed Distribution Standard System functionality in all warehousing functions, positioning DLA Distribution as a leader in new technologies for the future.

In fiscal year 2014, Gish, a champion of process excellence, led her team to successfully standardize and reduce costs for warehouse supplies.  As a result of her efforts, DLA Distribution saved $4.6 million by negotiating a price reduction for pallets; reduced costs associated with packing list envelopes by standardizing envelopes from 17 different National Stock Numbers to three, resulting in exceeding cost-savings estimates of $40,000; standardizing fiberboard boxes, which reduced the number of National Stock Numbers ordered by over 40 percent; and standardizing general packing tape to six standard National Stock Numbers, reducing costs by up to $1.00 per foot.

“Gish is a consummate role model who constantly meets the highest standards of professionalism,” said Gonzales.  “Her demonstrated devotion to our personnel and to our institution makes her a truly indispensable asset to DLA Distribution and to the Defense Logistics Agency.”