News | March 21, 2016

Blast from the Past: Distribution’s first commander returns

By Emily Tsambiras DLA Distribution Public Affairs

It’s been nearly two decades since United States Army Ret. Major General Kenneth L. Privratsky took the reins as the first commander of DLA Distribution, then known as Defense Distribution Center.  But the legacy he left behind in his two years with the organization has lived on, as he witnessed during his Mar. 17 visit.

During his afternoon with staff, the DLA Hall of Fame inductee received a command brief outlining DLA Distribution’s current network and toured the installation, including the future DLA Distribution HQ building, as well as the expeditionary operations and DLA Distribution Susquehanna’s Eastern Distribution Center, the largest warehouse in the Department of Defense, to observe how the business processes he once put in place are still thriving.

Privratsky took the helm during a pivotal time in the organization’s history.  When he assumed command in Oct. 1997, the organization was separated into two regions, Defense Distribution Regions East and West.  Under his leadership, the two merged into a single entity, known as Defense Distribution Center. 

With the organization’s new name established, he went to work to revolutionize operations and customer service. Within six months of the merger, all distribution centers were meeting or exceeding Privratsky’s same day processing standards.  These improved standards facilitated improved customer support to all services by accelerating overall logistics response time. 

His “Raising the Bar” initiative set a new standard – same day service – for requisitions and procurement processing making the organization competitive with the public sector.  Reducing processing times by as much as 63 percent, high priority requisition processing dropped from 0.8 to 0.6 days, routine processing from 3.4 to 1.3 days, and new procurement from 1.6 to 1.5 days. These improvements bolstered customer confidence, and enabled the services to lower retail inventory levels.

His dedicated truck support had a similar effect.  By guaranteeing regular, time-definite deliveries, the services were able to reduce Authorized Stockage levels and yield a savings to the taxpayer. 

One of the largest challenges Privratsky guided the organization through was the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure initiative, which recommended the closure of 32 major United States military bases, several of which fell under DDC’s domain.  He managed the movement of more than 238,000 National Stock Numbers while closing Defense Distribution Depot Memphis on time and in accordance with all BRAC and environmental guidelines. 

He realized similar success at Defense Distribution Depot Columbus where he facilitated an 86 percent reduction in personnel, an 87 percent reduction in workload, and a complete realignment of stock from active to inactive as the distribution center prepared for its BRAC directed role as a War Reserve site for slow moving stock.

To meet the remaining required infrastructure reductions, Privratsky implemented a rigorous process of reviewing and improving storage practices and inactive stock, ultimately achieving a 30 percent reduction in infrastructure in just 2.5 years. 

Notably, while meeting required mandates and seeking efficiencies for customers through increased productivity and customer support, Privratsky realized significant savings.  In FY97, he implemented budget restrictions reducing discretionary costs by nearly $10 million.  Additionally, staffing levels were reduced by 2,400 personnel between FY96 and 97, generating an additional $40 million in future savings. 

Impressed with his visit, Privratsky stated, “"I'm really proud of what you've done here. I loved this assignment. We went through a lot during the years I was here and I have nothing but fond memories. I love Pennsylvania and I love the people here."