Fort Belvoir, VA –
For the non-Department of Defense person or the Defense Logistics Agency employee whose job isn’t directly in acquisition, what is Logistics Information Services, and what is it not?
Logistics Information Services classifies, names, describes and numbers each item of supply repetitively used, purchased, stocked or distributed by DoD. The single-item identification is used for all functions of supply, from the original purchase to disposition. The unique number assigned to an item of supply is the National Stock Number.
The mission has its roots in Chapter 539 of Public Law 436, the Defense Cataloging and Standardization Act, also known as Title 10, U.S. Code, Chapter 145. The law was enacted July 1, 1952, and called for a single cataloging system and related supply standardization program. In 1962, the Defense Supply Agency and Defense Logistics Service Center were established, and DLSC became the central control point for the Federal Catalog System and what is Logistics Information Services today.
Our division does not determine whether an NSN is assigned. NSN assignments are based on requirements and requests from the military services, DLA, other federal agencies and NATO and NATO partner countries. NSNs are not assigned at the request of industry or suppliers.
How is Logistics Information Services unique within DLA Information Operations?
DLA Information Operations is an information technology service provider. When most people think of IT, they immediately think of the things you can touch, like a computer, laptop or mobile device — or software they use to do their work.
What Logistics Information Services provides is information management — the “I” in IT. The NSN links core logistics data necessary for the life cycle support of weapon systems. Timely and accurate logistics information is essential to planning, procurement, order fulfillment, warehousing, distribution, repair/maintenance and disposition.
Could you describe some capabilities your group has that the average DLA employee might not know about?
Logistics Information Services verifies demilitarization codes for DoD. Every DEMIL code is assigned by one of the military services and submitted as part of a request for a new NSN. The DEMIL verification team comprises expert professionals certified in DEMIL coding. They review each new NSN’s DEMIL code and process challenges to DEMIL codes entered by DLA Disposition Services employees processing turned-in equipment and parts. The verifications and challenges help ensure items are properly demilitarized and don’t end up in the wrong hands, and that DLA and DoD don’t incur unnecessary costs when DEMIL isn’t required.
Provisioning support is a service available to weapon system program managers. Logistics Information Services provisioning staff are available to support provisioning conferences where decisions are made on spare and repair parts requiring logistics data. The early involvement of cataloging at this phase facilitates the establishment of NSNs and associated data and increases the quality of that data.
Our division also offers training to customers on logistics data interpretation and fundamentals. It also includes logistics tools like the DoD Electronic Mall (soon to be FedMall) and WebFLIS [Web-based Federal Logistics Information Service]. The training is offered in the traditional classroom environment and has been incorporated into military service curriculums. It’s also available through webinar sessions.
We also provide cataloging services to other federal agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Weather Service.
How has Logistics Information Services changed in the past 10 years, with the continuing advances in technology?
One major area is the development and enhancement of E-Cat [Electronic Cataloging], the application customers use to submit requests and the FLIS Portfolio Workbench. E-Cat interfaces with FPW to allow customer requests to automatically route to the workbench. The workbench provides the capability to monitor and manage workload and assign workload based on priority and available resources.
What part of Logistics Information Services never gets the credit it deserves? And what does that office or unit do for DLA?
One area not widely known is the group in Logistics Information Services that represents the United States on NATO Allied Committee 135, also known as the National Directors on Codification. In the international world, “codification” is another term for cataloging. Participating countries share in the international language of logistics, based upon the U.S. Federal Catalog System. This standardized data provides a common description of items of supply, enabling logistics interoperability across allied forces.
Logistics Information Services also operates the DLA Customer Interaction Center. As part of the mission to manage and disseminate logistics information, the CIC is DLA’s 24-hour, year-round point of entry for all customers. Customer inquiries are received via telephone, email and fax. The CIC resolves approximately 70 percent of all inquiries. The remaining 30 percent are escalated to subject matter experts throughout DLA. They processed over 650,000 actions on behalf of customers last year.
What are the biggest changes in store for Logistics Information Services in the near future?
An ongoing characteristics redesign will be a big improvement for describing items of supply. The redesign will allow for characteristics to be added to NSNs based on the technical documentation that is provided. Today characteristics are limited to what is defined in the Federal Item Identification Guides.
The redesign will provide a much more agile and expedient way to include characteristics that are important and evolving within the industry manufacturing the items. In addition, more business will use rule-driven automation, which will allow for processing of routine maintenance actions without human intervention.
If there’s one thing you want the non-logistician DLA employee to remember about Logistics Information Services, what would it be?
While the concepts of the NSN and the single item of supply were developed decades ago, it’s just as relevant today. Items of production that have the same form, fit and function are grouped under the NSN as the item of supply. The benefits gained from these concepts, such as logistics interoperability, lower acquisition costs through competition and the linkage of logistics data throughout the life cycle, are just as critical to military readiness and cost efficiencies.
Lastly, many customers know us as DLIS (or FEDLOG); however, we are an ever-evolving organization, and the term DLIS has been retired. Today we are Logistics Information Services, a DLA Information Operations service provider.