COLUMBUS, Ohio –
We sometimes fail to remember that the Defense Logistics Agency acquisition structure involves more than just associates in the 1100 series. When DLA Acquisition Director and senior procurement executive Matthew Beebe visited Land and Maritime in December he made sure that, in seating a small group of people for a focus group, Land and Maritime didn’t fall into that trap. The 14 associates who were selected to participate in the focus group represented both Land and Maritime supply chains, multiple jobs within two career paths, and several operations directorates. This was the third PLFA visit by Beebe. During the visit, he emphasized the importance of focus groups being active and involved in the site visit agendas. Attendees agreed that the session was valuable and enlightening.
“The main takeaway I received from the session was seeing DLA’s big acquisition picture and how each piece of the DLA puzzle fits together to achieve the finished product, i.e. parts to the customers,” said Angela Fugate, a post award contract specialist with the Maritime Supplier Operation Directorate. “It’s so easy for all of us to become so focused on our piece of the puzzle that we sometimes forget about the bigger picture,” she said.
Brandon Quatman, a procurement analyst in the Procurement Process Support Directorate added, “Mr. Beebe seemed keenly aware of the potential for senior leaders to become insulated from the evolving issues that impact the front lines. This type of interactive engagement, which Mr. Beebe said he plans to continue across the Enterprise, will raise awareness of the concerns, skill gaps, and succession planning needs of the acquisition workforce.”
The focus group provided an opportunity to discuss topics that are not frequently broached between senior leaders and journeymen associates. There was no dictated agenda for the group, allowing associates to speak freely about the full range of topics affecting their workday, efficiency, output, and careers. Beebe responded to numerous questions from the group, while also prodding them with questions of his own, prompting conversations covering various areas of interest during their hour-long meeting.
“Some of the areas discussed were commerciality and pricing, policy issues concerning electronic files, and areas of focus for the best practices team,” said Mary Hansman, a contract specialist in the Land Supplier Operations Division.”
The crossflow of information between the associates and Beebe was dynamic and nonstop. Associates also found the session to be an opportunity that they too-rarely get to learn about other career paths and jobs within their own organization,
“I’m at my desk most of the time, completely focused on working large purchase requests, so it was helpful to hear about what other areas within the Enterprise are working on and concerned about,” Hansman said.
Multiple field visits like Beebe’s and other DLA senior leadership demonstrate that it’s apparent the symbiotic relationship of all job roles within the agency and the pulling together of all “Big Acquisition” efforts is important to J7. Joshua Warmund, a customer account specialist in the Land Customer Operations Directorate expressed his appreciation for being able to participate and noticed that Mr. Beebe took many notes. “It was nice that his direction wasn’t focused on one specific piece to the puzzle,” Warmund said. “He seemed genuinely interested in how the process affects the whole puzzle rather than just appeasing one discipline or job role.”
The focus group participants agreed that more time would have been beneficial. Future site visits by Beebe are being planned by J7 and will include additional focus groups when he visits other DLA locations.
“Beebe's staff took several action items from the session that were promptly followed up and are being actively worked,” Quatman said. This focus and follow-up demonstrate how important we all are to the success of the agency and its mission.