DLA-Coast Guard partnership strong and growing

By Beth Reece

Increasing the Coast Guard’s use of tailored logistics-support programs and eliminating system and user errors during the material receipt process were among the goals Defense Logistics Agency and Coast Guard leaders discussed at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Feb. 29.

DLA has made tremendous progress in its support to the Coast Guard over the past year, and more can be expected, Navy Rear Adm. Vince Griffith, director of DLA Logistics Operations, said at the fourth annual Coast Guard-DLA Day.

“We have a strong partnership with the Coast Guard,” the admiral said. “What I appreciate is that we can be critical of each other, so I’m looking forward to a robust discussion about anything that’s on your minds.”

DLA’s relationship with the Coast Guard has steadily grown since the service signed an agreement with DLA Energy for fuel support in 2006. In 2011, the two organizations signed an interagency agreement that paved the way for support in areas ranging from construction and equipment materials to repair parts. The Coast Guard is now DLA’s top federal customer as measured by sales.

Partnering with DLA enables the Coast Guard to remain effective with a small footprint, said Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for engineering and logistics.

“We’re always looking across government, across industry and at ourselves for better ways to do things. We don’t feel that we have to own a resource to leverage that resource,” he said.

A squeeze on the Coast Guard’s operations and maintenance budgets has officials looking for new ways to maintain the fleet.

“We need to keep the cutters going and the boats going within this new budget environment. Even though we’re getting new ships, the new ships cost more to operate than the old ones. We’re also getting less money to operate them, and we’ve still got to operate existing assets,” Baffer said.

Procurement and distribution of service uniforms is one example of areas in which the service and DLA could partner.

“We’ve been in that business for a long time, and we’re not particularly good at it. The technology of the business has moved on and we didn’t move with it. So we’re at the point of asking whether we should invest internally or look for a new partner,” Baffer continued.

Other topics of the three-hour roundtable discussion included expanding engagements with logistics and service centers, early involvement in acquisition planning, and training on DLA tools and services for the service’s procurement personnel.