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DLA published its first Industry Engagement Plan in 2018, which reflected the agency’s commitment to strengthening its partnership with industry, including small businesses. Following publication, changes to the acquisition environment brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic and other historic events made close coordination with industry more urgent and essential than ever. To reflect current conditions, we are proud to introduce a refreshed Industry Engagement Plan to supplement our DLA Strategic Plan 2021-2026.
To carry out our global mission as the Nation’s Combat Logistics Support Agency, DLA must support and enable a robust, resilient, and secure defense industrial base. Our dynamic partnership is vital to our warfighters and Whole of Government customers, who depend on us to deliver effective and efficient solutions that will enable mission success.
For more than 60 years, our agency has built a solid reputation of support to our important customers. Our success is only possible in concert with our industry partners, who have been with us every step of the way. Please join with me as we further this proud alliance to produce the most impactful, innovative, and affordable solutions for our nation and for the Warfighter Always!
VADM Michelle C. Skubic, SC, USN
Defense Logistics Agency Director
DLA’s strong relationship with its supplier community is critical to the agency’s ability to successfully carry out its mission as the Nation’s Combat Logistics Support Agency. As stated in the Modernize Acquisition and Supply Chain Management Line of Effort from the DLA Strategic Plan, DLA must work together with our suppliers, “to modernize and streamline our acquisition and end-to-end supply chains to deliver increased readiness and maintain our competitive advantage.”
As DLA’s senior official responsible for industry engagement, I believe it is essential for DLA to articulate and communicate how we will approach engagement with suppliers (of both products and services) via a specific strategy. The five Focus Areas laid out in the following pages set forth the agency’s plans, priorities and expectations related to industry engagement from the DLA enterprise perspective.
In order to further strengthen the partnership between DLA and its industry base, we must begin from a point of common understanding. With that in mind, I ask that all stakeholders – our suppliers as well as the DLA workforce and government partners – familiarize themselves with the plan. Throughout the focus areas you will see several goals – improving communication, balancing priorities and risks, increasing efficiency – all of which are critical to our effort in helping American businesses compete in strategic industries, advancing equity throughout the procurement process, promoting competition, and strengthening the resilience of America’s supply chains.
Whether you currently have a relationship with DLA or would like to begin one, I encourage you to contact our Industry Engagement Program Office who will help facilitate the execution of this plan across all five focus areas. Please join me as we work together to build and strengthen the strong partnerships that are necessary to support our nation’s warfighters.
Matthew R. Beebe
DLA Component Acquisition Executive
Introductions to the agency begin with the agency's overall About DLA page, with the tabs below detailing more facts and figures with Industry Engagement in mind.
As the Department of Defense’s logistics integrator, acquisition and service provider, DLA’s major responsibilities are to (1) buy or contract, (2) warehouse when needed, and (3) distribute over 5 million distinct consumable, expendable and reparable items.
DLA accomplishes its mission with the dedicated men and women of its major subordinate commands. Four of these MSCs acquire and provide supplies and services: DLA Troop Support, DLA Land and Maritime, DLA Aviation and DLA Energy. These MSCs operate across multiple supply chains and are directly responsible for meeting the services’ needs by contracting and delivering high-volume, commercially available items such as food, textiles, fuel, medical supplies and equipment, construction material, consumable hardware, personal demand items, repair parts and major end items. In addition, DLA Distribution provides worldwide storage and distribution services, while DLA Disposition Services partners with industry for the DoD’s disposal of hazardous waste and via public sales for surplus or excess material.
Furthermore, DLA Strategic Materials manages the strategic and critical raw material stockpile that supports national defense needs. The DLA Contracting Services Office provides enterprisewide common services, such as business and facilities services.
The five Focus Areas laid out here set forth the agency’s plans, priorities and expectations related to Industry Engagement from the DLA enterprise perspective.
View a full-size version of the Supplier Engagement Spectrum
Frank and open communication is a foundational element of any strong partnership, and it has long been a tenet of DLA’s supplier relationship management efforts. DLA acquisition professionals and leaders are encouraged and expected to engage with and work collaboratively with industry in a fair and open manner.
DLA pledges to be responsive to supplier interactions at all levels of business and in various forums and settings, to include one-on-one discussions, industry site visits, industry association events, and DLA-led engagements. We will continue to leverage the industry associations to better understand and discuss current issues facing DLA and industry. In accordance with DLA’s strategic plan, we are expanding the scope of our strategic or mid-tier suppliers and building a tailored strategy for our transactional suppliers in order to better understand our industry partners and jointly improve performance and increase value for our customers.
Effective industry engagement is an enabler to achieving both successful acquisition outcomes and improving our military’s readiness and lethality.
Warfighter Always is our No. 1 priority! To optimize warfighter outcomes and achieve mission success, our business decisions must balance multiple, sometimes competing, priorities while also infusing critical thinking and innovation into the process. As a steward of taxpayer dollars and an executive agency of the U.S. government, DLA has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and regulations, to include those designed to support the U.S. industrial base (i.e., Buy American Act, Berry Amendment). We must support Congressional mandates and DoD interest programs (i.e., UNICOR, AbilityOne, combatant command objectives) to the maximum extent practicable.
Furthermore, we strive to implement category management principles that will leverage common contracts and best practices to drive savings and efficiencies. We also recognize the need to balance the benefits of enterprise-wide purchasing with the need to have a robust small-business supplier base.
Striking this balance, while also promoting a fully fair, open, and competitive marketplace is not always easy, especially when we must make value determinations that ensure business decisions don’t negatively outweigh warfighter mission needs. Our commitment to industry is that our actions will be transparent and arrived at through a deliberative decision making process that considers the appropriate balance of government and industry priorities.
DLA remains focused on capturing supplier feedback and using that feedback to drive internal change. DLA’s supplier survey and reporting model uses best practices from industry, academia and consulting. The survey, which is repeatable and usable across the entire federal government, will be conducted on a two-year cycle.
The survey measures DLA on four vectors; DLA Communication, DLA Supplier Relationship, Growth and Profit Potential, and DLA Effectiveness. The data collected allows us to receive a “big picture” of supplier perceptions of DLA supply chain practices and develop action plans to address any areas needing improvement.
We must continue to refine our supply chain practices based on the data we receive from our industry partners and establish organizational behaviors that recognize the value of supplier input. DLA is improving its enterprise-wide process for collecting and assessing information about market segments in which it obtains supplies and services. This will lead to an ability to provide access to commercial data sources to quickly create supplier profiles and industry overviews that go beyond the readily available public resources, and provide analytics that improve the speed to determine fair and reasonable prices and provide best value to the taxpayer.
In addition DLA is moving to inculcate industry knowledge in the workforce. Through partnerships with major universities, DLA offers opportunities for acquisition professionals to take industry-focused courses that teach students how to look through the lens of industry to understand what drives their business decisions, in order to negotiate fair and equitable agreements for both parties. DLA established a “Training with Industry” program where employees have an opportunity to spend an extended length of time with a commercial company, learning about its business and best practices. These opportunities are a key element to building strong partnerships with industry and we look forward to the shared value they will produce.
With its global reach, diverse business units, and support to the entire Joint Logistics Enterprise, DLA is a supply chain organization like no other. While we will always be different from commercial companies in that our primary objective is warfighter readiness, the agency also seeks to use innovative and efficient approaches to deliver better acquisition outcomes and improve our business processes.
Beyond streamlining procedures, leveraging new systems, and expanding the use of new technological solutions, DLA uses best-in-government and commercial strategies to improve supply chain logistics support. We will look for opportunities to leverage, not duplicate, commercial supply chains, and will continue to educate our workforce to better understand the business dynamics of their suppliers’ industries. Through our robust outreach efforts with suppliers, other government agencies, industry associations, and academic organizations, we will strengthen partnerships and identify potential projects and other innovative and efficient solutions (i.e. reverse engineering, casting & forging, automated procurement) to maintain a secure and resilient supply chain. Events such as the DLA R&D Collider Day will continue to highlight agency programs that support emerging capabilities in areas such as additive manufacturing, battery network, subsistence network and military unique sustainment technology; logistics research and development; energy readiness; supply chain management; and small-business innovation programs.
We must continue to foster an environment where individuals seek out new and better ways of doing things and are encouraged to take responsible risks that will lead to positive changes throughout the DLA supply chain.
We continually assess the health of our industrial base, maintain awareness of our supply chain/item vulnerabilities, and mitigate risk within our supplier base to ensure supply chain security and survivability. As noted in DLA’s Supply Chain Security Strategy – this cross-cutting effort is fundamental to our operations and underpins DLA’s ability to support the warfighter. Through our collaborative efforts, we have established programs and systems to aid us in combating counterfeit products, protecting against fraudulent actors and cyber vulnerabilities, and planning for diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages, as well as actively promoting competition to encourage a robust supplier base. DLA will also strengthen operational resiliency by exploiting current and emerging technologies that optimize supply chain risk identification, analysis and reporting through internal and external stakeholder collaboration.
As DLA makes strides to ensure our supplier base is resilient, there are still risks that continuously and dynamically affect DLA’s ability to support the warfighter and require agile and steadfast efforts that address these vulnerabilities. DLA must continue to establish robust collaborative initiatives with industry partners and providing actionable information throughout DLA to ensure we are playing a vigorous role in helping DoD guard against these threats.
Securing DLA’s expansive global supply chain, within the context of a broad threat spectrum, calls on the agency to unlock new solutions to non-linear challenges through bold, innovative ideas. It also demands effective data management techniques to fully integrate the Resilient Supply Chain Operations Scorecard into the Enterprise Dashboard in order to provide a comprehensive, digitized view of the supply chain security landscape. It also requires the agency to leverage readily accessible and emerging technologies and existing data and processes to drive competitive advantage and effective supply chain solutions for the warfighter.
The DLA Office of Small Business Programs proactively engages with the small-business community to increase their knowledge of the DLA mission, improve points of entry and recruit viable participants in our supply chains. Our work supports the DoD Small Business Strategy which recognizes that small businesses are a crucial component in our Nation’s effort to meet increased challenges from adversaries that threaten U.S. technological and industrial dominance. The strategy describes how small businesses buttress production of the most cutting-edge technologies and advanced capabilities, bolster our national security and form an important part of our industrial base.
DLA OSBP is working to expand industry engagement to foster innovation and maximize value for our customers. We help ensure small businesses are included in important discussions about the DLA industrial base to gain operational awareness of innovative solutions in the commercial sector. We also assist small businesses by explaining DLA acquisition processes and offering training to strengthen their ability to compete. Most training is available virtually and is open to everyone. Check our calendar and register.
The Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, or PTACs, are a nationwide network of community-based procurement professionals that are a free resource to help businesses compete for and perform contracts with DoD, other federal agencies, state and local governments and with government prime contractors. Learn more and find your local PTAC.
The AbilityOne Program serves as the primary gateway for helping people with disabilities gain access to the federal contracting marketplace.
Each year, through the AbilityOne Program, the federal government awards nearly $4 billion in government contracts to more than 475 entities (known as nonprofit agencies or NPAs), each of which produces and delivers products or services to federal agencies with a collective workforce of approximately 45,000 people. The DoD continues to be the lead customer of the AbilityOne Program, procuring more than $2 billion of products and services in fiscal 2021.
Today, nearly 35,000 individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities perform work on DoD contracts. To support the larger federal effort to ensure we maintain a strong pathway and promote opportunities to this vital segment of the defense industrial base, DLA has established an AbilityOne Representative (ABOR) Program. The ABOR Program will focus on proactively advocating for the program and working with subordinate organizations to grow AbilityOne program participation where mission needs intersect with AbilityOne capabilities.
R&D is the front end of the innovation cycle. DLA’s R&D program works to bolster innovation by conducting research to develop new processes and technologies that support the logistics effort. R&D efforts are funded through two program elements: 1) Logistics R&D, and 2) Manufacturing Technology Program (ManTech). The program supports DLA’s major supply chains, which include Subsistence, Clothing and Textiles, Medical, Energy, Construction and Equipment, Maritime, Land, Aviation, and Strategic Materials, as well as DLA Service Centers consisting of DLA Distribution, DLA Disposition and Logistics Information Services.
Pioneers advanced logistics concepts, business processes, and technologies that use commercial best practices; develops and demonstrates high payoff technologies that provide a high level of support at lower costs. Strategic focus areas include: 1) Enhance analysis and decision support, 2) Improve logistics processes, and 3) Emergent Logistics R&D topics.
Supports technical innovation in the DLA industrial base to improve the operational performance of key supply chains. Strategic focus areas include: 1) Improve industrial base manufacturing processes, 2) Maintain viable supply sources, 3) Improve technical and logistics information, and 4) Emergent ManTech topics.
Fosters technology transfer through cooperative R&D between small businesses and research institutions, increases private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D, and provides the ability to absorb risks associated with early stage R&D projects and ideas by investing in disruptive industrial base innovations to improve cost, quality, and delivery. Visit the Small Business Innovation Research website, the Defense Innovation Marketplace website, or contact Logistics.email@example.com.
The Defense Logistics Agency is the nation’s combat logistics support agency. Our mission is to provide best-value integrated logistics solutions to our military and interagency customers in peace, during national disasters/emergencies and in war, around the clock, in the homeland, and around the world. DLA supplies its customers with critical resources needed to accomplish their missions. Companies interested in doing business with DLA should: