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DLA eager to partner in performance-based logistics

FORT BELVOIR, Va., USTCNS) --- "If you’re in the process of developing PBL, and it makes sense to involve DLA, get the agency involved from the beginning," Maj. Gen. Daniel Mongeon said. "Invite DLA into early product support and PBL planning."

The general was speaking April 27 to the Performance-Based Logistics Conference at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. As Defense Logistics Agency’s director of logistics operations, Mongeon discussed DLA’s role in performance-based logistics implementation.

William Strough, division chief of the Federal Catalog Policy, System and Information Integrity Division for DLA’s Defense Logistics Information Service, made his presentation the next day and highlighted cataloging and data solutions for performance-based logistics.

As stated in the conference agenda, "performance-based logistics is key to supplying our war fighters with better equipment while saving money, yet its implementation has met many challenges." The conference brought together experts from the military, federal government and private industry, and together they talked about lessons learned from top performance-based logistics programs.

Mongeon and Strough presented DLA’s role in performance-based logistics as the executive agent for logistics in the Department of Defense. Mongeon put DLA’s responsibilities in perspective, touching on an assortment of topics:

• DOD guidance on DLA's performance-based logistics role;
• DLA's PBL value proposition;
• DLA's support to combatant commanders; and
• Examples of DLA's role in military services' PBL implementation for systems and subsystems.

Strough then took a closer look at how DLA manages data and how that affects DOD and the military services. He noted these factors:

• Logistics information are the “DNA building blocks” for the DOD supply chain from early stages of acquisition through sustainment;
• Data integration, interoperability and integrity are all key elements that must be addressed for successful logistics information;
• Common standards for data are critical to successfully blend contractor, commercial and governmental elements in the supply chain; and,
• Data quality is of paramount concern to ensure optimization of integration, interoperability and integrity of data.
"Our job is to provider the best possible product support to the services and the war fighter," Mongeon said. He put that in the context of overall DLA support, emphasizing, "DLA is a partner worth having."

Mongeon reviewed where DLA is today and where the agency is going. He cited the 1,400 weapons systems DLA manages while keeping supply availability above DOD’s 85 percent goal – actually at 88 percent currently. DLA is also doing well in the backorder arena, he said, at the same time the agency is "holding the line in customer wait time in the face of record demand."
Mongeon credited DLA’s "strong partnership" with U.S. Transportation Command in driving down customer wait time to about 18 days.

The centerpiece of performance-based logistics is DLA acting as the weapons program manager, he said. DLA buys performance as a package, which includes surge flexibility, according to Mongeon.

"When we talk about readiness sustainment of the war fighter," Mongeon said, "we ultimately need to deliver support on the battlefield as the war fighter demands it."

The general showed how the supply chain in Southwest Asia had matured and become more responsive from the days leading up to the Iraq war compared to today’s operation.
"At first, speed was important," he said. However, that built up a mountain of supplies in theater. DLA then developed the “pure pallet” system in which workers can build pallets that move through the supply chain without the need to be opened until delivery to the customer.
"We need to know what the war fighter wants and deliver it to him," Mongeon said.

DLA’s value in performance-based logistics support is readily apparent in Kuwait where the agency supplies more than 216,000 items, according to Mongeon.

"We’re working with the services to supply those force-movers," he said. In the first six months of Army operations in Kuwait, Mongeon said DLA saved the Army $30 million by using more efficient business practices. This includes not having the customer pay for supplies until they reach their destination.

The agency has also gained in efficiency by finding and eliminating duplication.
"We found huge commonalities," the general said. "Two or more services used the same items 81 percent of the time."

Such a finding helped the agency consolidate shipments to the war front, which drove down stockpiles by eliminating duplication. That way, he said, the customer only pays for the supplies it needs while DLA can avoid overstocking inventory.

This is all part of Defense Distribution Center’s worldwide warehousing and distribution service, which, Mongeon noted, has been recognized as an industry best practice that companies such as General Motors are modeling.

Yet, he added, DLA can do more to improve its support. For example, Mongeon said, kitting, the process of loading a set of spare parts into one package for shipment to the customer, "is a big business. We’re looking at where our capabilities are and where we can improve the process."
DLA is eager to partner in performance-based logistics, according to Mongeon. He described PBL as a win-win for the agency, the military services and private industry.

"We can’t have systems that operate only in peace or only in war," he said. "DLA is stepping up to the plate to provide flexibility and agility to support the war fighter today. DLA buys outcomes, and it’s DLA’s responsibility to provide outcomes and solutions rather than just supplies. We need to expand on taking on such responsibilities and move toward supply chain integration."

Above all, the general said, DLA must continue to press ahead in customer service and partnerships no matter what the agency has achieved so far.

"It’s no longer good enough to accept we’re world class in delivering consumables," he said. "We have to take the next step to get better.

"The key for DLA and DOD is to get in on the ground floor of PBL with everyone on the same sheet of music," he said. "A whole lot of dialog is essential from day one. We need integrated processes and consolidation so we can move in an integrated fashion as far as the war fighter wants. If we can extend DLA forward, and use our services in a smart manner, we can be a great addition to the mission."

Defense Logistics Agency provides supply support, and technical and logistics services to the U.S. military services and several federal civilian agencies. Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va., the agency is the one source for nearly every consumable item, whether for combat readiness, emergency preparedness or day-to-day operations. More information about DLA is available at www.dla.mil.

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