DLA director stresses audit sustainment and Process Excellence to workforce

By Chris Erbe

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Defense Logistics Agency Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch and members of DLA’s Strategic Plans and Policy division left no doubt that audit sustainment and Process Excellence remain a top priority for the agency. The director hosted an all-hands town hall meeting on the subject at the McNamara Headquarters Complex April 12.

“One of our goals in the strategic plan is Process Excellence,” Busch said, referring to DLA’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2022. “This continues to be very important for the agency.”

Busch introduced the Process Excellence topics, including continuous process improvement, internal controls, risk assessment and more.

“Our ability to become more effective and efficient with the resources we have and how we can incorporate the good ideas that the workforce have are critical to moving forward,” Busch said.

Speaking of DLA’s initiatives on continuous process improvement, Busch said he was pleased with the progress of some of the larger projects nearing completion that will affect the entire enterprise. He also recounted how he and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Tobin recently visited a DLA disposition depot in Korea, where they found a local example of a successful CPI project.

“Our local national workforce had come up with a CPI event for strengthening and streamlining the pack-and-ship area,” he said. “It was very disciplined. They had the visuals to help them map and manage the process. It was exactly what I’m trying to communicate to the larger workforce of 25,000 people in DLA.”

Busch then introduced the director of the DLA Strategic Plans and Policy office, Marcus Bowers, who unveiled a new Process Excellence video.

Bowers made the point that DLA’s focus on audit readiness, underway for several years, is transitioning to audit sustainment and Process Excellence.

“Process Excellence is about always examining and continually and persistently pursuing the best way to do business,” he said. He then emphasized the word “persistence” and quoted President Calvin Coolidge, who said that talent, genius and education can never take the place of persistence.

Billie Sue Goff, DLA’s chief of risk and controls, then spoke about her area of expertise in enterprise process management.

“We need to better plan, control and organize our processes so that we can identify where weaknesses may exist in order to minimize the effects of risk to our warfighters and our resources,” she said.

Goff broke down a procure-to-pay process as a means to demonstrate how DLA examines controls to maintain and improve its processes and mitigate risks.

“We’ve documented these processes, we’ve identified the controls, and now we’re evaluating those so we can determine how effective our process is, how effective our controls are and what we need to do to improve them in the future,” she said.

Senior analyst Heather Vickers spoke about continuous process improvement, which she said combines the power of imagination and innovation with deliberate decision making.

“Through CPI,” she said, “good ideas can be uncovered, executed and appreciated at all levels of DLA, with the overall purpose of being able to make a difference to our warfighters.”

She urged employees see the problem, solve the problem and then share what they found, to make sure that others can leverage that knowledge.

Vickers examined further the CPI project in Korea that Busch spoke about, saying the workers employed what they called the 5-S principles in their workspace:

  • Sort: Distinguish between necessary and unnecessary things and get rid of what you do not need.
  • Straighten: Store things in an orderly fashion so the right item can be picked out efficiently.
  • Shine: Create a clean workplace so work is visible and problems can be more easily identified.
  • Standardize: Set standards for a neat, clean and organized workplace.
  • Sustain: Implement behaviors and habits to maintain established standards over the long term.

Vickers noted every DLA employee has the ability to improve his or her processes, work and environment. She also reminded attendees that CPI communities of practice exist throughout the agency and can be contacted to help with CPI work.

For more information on DLA’s efforts to sustain auditability and improve its processes, see articles in March-April 2016 issue of Loglines magazine.

DLA employees can also find links to further resources on the Process Excellence website.