Harnitchek: Audit readiness, contract award-time top priorities

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Supporting the equipment drawdown in Afghanistan, achieving audit readiness, and decreasing the time it takes to award contracts are among the Defense Logistics Agency’s top priorities in 2014, DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek said during a Director’s Call Feb. 12.


Discussing operations in Afghanistan, Harnitchek noted that DLA Disposition Services cut up 130 million pounds of equipment at operating bases throughout the country in the last quarter of 2013. And the mission is expected to vastly increase this year, he added.


“Our strategy is to have so much capacity there that no matter what comes our way, we’ll be able to swallow it whole. … We don’t want to be holding up the effort,” Harnitchek said.


The agency is disposing of material at customers’ locations to limit convoys and the amount of time warfighters are subject to enemy action.


“Everything that we destroy in place is a convoy that doesn’t take place, and it’s less Soldiers out there in the battle space,” he said.


Harnitchek summed up the agency’s 2013 accomplishments by noting that material availability is over 90 percent for most supply chains, and backorders are down by 18 percent. Backorders are down a total of 33 percent since 2012. Inventory management has also improved, with the agency going from $14 billion in inventory down to $10 billion.


“Just ponder that for a minute: Our wholesale performance is better than it’s ever been; we have fewer backorders than we’ve ever had; and we’re doing it with about $4 billion less in inventory. Think about that; that’s really impressive,” he said.


In 2014, the agency must focus on decreasing the time it takes to award contracts, he continued. The timespan for large contracts is currently as high as 500 days, but Harnitchek is setting a goal of 270 days or less. Small purchases, such as those made with government purchase cards, currently take several months, but should take no more than a couple of weeks.


DLA will also work with the new Defense Health Agency to decrease the amount of money DoD spends on health care for service members, families and retirees by $2 billion to $3 billion in fiscal 2014.


I think there are huge opportunities to continue world-class health care but to do it for a whole lot less money,” the director said.


Harnitchek stressed that every employee in DLA has a part in the agency’s goal of achieving audit readiness by the end of 2015. Regardless of a person’s position or rank, everyone should ensure processes are well documented and be aware of and follow policies and rules, he added.


The director also announced that employees will get the chance to rate their job satisfaction this spring with a new DLA Culture Survey that is confidential and voluntary. The agency has traditionally scored well in categories such as work-life balance and telework. The previous survey, conducted in 2012, revealed that employees were less satisfied with performance and recognition, and that employees wanted more opportunity for employee empowerment.


After encouraging employees to participate in the survey, Harnitchek said all employees should feel empowered.


“I want you to go out there and do things. Nobody knows this stuff like you do; you know what’s wrong with things; you know what needs to be fixed, so take a crack at fixing it. Ask yourself that question, ‘If I’m not going to do this, who’s going to do it?’” he said.


The director also presented 14 Strategic Goals Awards, which recognize individuals and teams for their contributions toward achieving the Director’s “Big Ideas.” Award categories and recipients are:

Photo: Admiral speaking
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DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek describes the agency’s top priorities for 2014 during a Director’s Call Feb. 12. Photo by Teodora Mocanu

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