Aviation employee takes stewardship, accountability to heart

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs Office

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Stewardship and accountability go hand-in-hand and Joe Hodgson takes it to heart in his daily job.  Hodgson works for Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Supplier Operation’s Bearings Division and one of his tasks in his job as product specialist is to review potential bearing vendors.

Hodgson confirms that a vendor’s inventory can be traced back to an American-made source in accordance with the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement 225.7009: Restriction against the acquisition of foreign ball and roller bearings.

Just validating the source would prevent unnecessary costs and counterfeit bearings from entering the supply chain, but Hodgson goes above and beyond that review.

His commitment to looking beyond the scope of the tasking led to the recent repackaging of an item, the identification of a systemic problem with DLA’s Enterprise Business System, and a DLA Aviation cost avoidance savings of $695,000 through the cancellation of an automatically generated purchase request.

“As the resident bearings subject matter expert and special project manager, Mr. Hodgson is constantly searching for ways to conserve and protect our government funds,” said Curtis Fair, Hodgson’s supervisor and a supervisory product specialist for the Bearing Division’s Integrated Supplier Team B. “He routinely goes above and beyond, assisting and advising contract administrators in finding similar items, recommending substitute or interchangeable parts that are at a lesser cost, but still meet the need of the warfighter.”

In this case, the repackaged item was a bearing used in the horizontal stabilizer for the Navy’s Orion P-3 aircraft, a four-engine turboprop, anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft. The bearing was packaged as a single item, referred to as an “each” at a packaging cost of 50 cents. 

Hodgson contacted the buyer and the Navy’s Engineering Support Activity to discuss the unit of issue.  It turns out, the Navy agreed packaging as “eaches” was unnecessary and time consuming, so they gave the go ahead to repackage the bearing in a unit of issue of 500 bearings per package.

 

Hodgson said repackaging the bearing highlighted another problem, the responsiveness of the agency’s EBS.  It turns out the unit of issue is only updated every six months in the system and this change occurred during that six-month window which prompted the system to issue a reorder action.

“When I saw the purchase request, I went back to the supply planner to get it cancelled,” he said. “I knew we had more than 40,000 of these bearings before they were repackaged, so we didn’t need to reorder any.”  

Fair said when unit of issues problems like this are found they contact Richard Wolfe, their unit of issue coordinator and an analyst in the Technical/Quality Division of DLA Aviation’s Business Process Support Directorate.

 

Wolfe said each year there is a brown out period from May through September for unit of issue while annual price updates are made. The brown-out period often delays routine priority changes to the unit of issue, which could result in purchase requests being generated with the wrong unit of issue.  There’s a possibility that inadequate cross-process communications regarding unit of issue changes also played a role, said Wolfe.

 

“For the past several months the agency has been working to identify and refine these communication processes,” said Wolfe.” In fact, there was a meeting with several division chiefs in early July on this topic and when the process is formalized, we should be able to provide job aids to improve our ability to react to unit of issue changes as they relate to purchases requests, orders, outline agreements and long-term contracts.”

 

Hodgson said he routinely looks at an item’s demand and requisition history in eMall when a buyer asks him to review an item and that is how he noticed the unneeded purchase request.

“My being able to find savings for the agency and the taxpayers comes from when I worked for the Air Force at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York,” said Hodgson. “I looked at the ‘big picture’ of the item, instead of just one action associated with it, like a purchase request.”

Hodgson’s other job roles, as a special projects manager and working post-award surveillance, also lend themselves to making time to look at everything associated with an item.

Hodgson said he is fortunate to have the time to look at everything associated with an item.

“I get about 10 requests to verify the trace of an offer of bearing sources of supply a day,” he said.  “Whereas, buyers and supply planners are required to process many more actions on a daily basis.  Theirs’ is more of a production-oriented environment and their performance is judged on how many actions they process in a given period of time.”

Fair said Hodgson is devoted to our country and DLA’s mission.  “He has spent hours reviewing national stock numbers for conversion to commercial item descriptions, opening up competition to more manufacturers and decreasing cost and administrative lead times.  He conducts in-depth research and identifies items in an over procurement state then recommends cancellation of the purchase requests, avoiding unnecessary expenses.”

 

Deborah Arrington, chief of the Bearings Division, also applauds Hodgson devotion and encourages all employees to embrace and apply the familiar axiom, “If you see something, say something” when noticing anything peculiar, not only about business practices, but when it comes to suppliers, their offered price, proposed product or delivered item.

“If we all do this, as Mr. Hodgson does, I'm confident that we will continue to find additional savings and avoid unnecessary costs,” said Arrington.