Harnitchek: DLA crushes logistics problems, leaves footprint

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Defense Logistics Agency Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek commended the agency’s workforce for its record breaking work in making his five “Big Ideas” a reality, May 28 during a Director’s Call with the agency’s workforce at the McNamara Headquarters Complex.

“We’re in the business of getting people stuff across our nine supply chains,” he said to an audience gathered in the McNamara Auditorium and watching live via streaming video. “We’re breaking records with regard to availability. [In repair parts], we’re up above 90 percent for the first time in the [enterprise resource platform] era. Back orders have never been less than they are right now, so we’re doing great. And we’re doing that with about a third less inventory. That’s the big gee-whiz there. We’re not only breaking records in terms of support; we’re doing it a lot more efficiently.”

The admiral compared DLA to the movie monster Godzilla in terms of how the agency tackles complex logistics challenges. He shared a slide featuring “Logzilla.”

“He’s good, because he goes after the bad monsters. Just don’t get in his way. … We’re big. When I talk about us leaving a big footprint and just crushing logistics problems, that’s us,” he said. “If there’s a logistics problem – I don’t care where it is – DLA’s going to crush it.”

Harnitchek said that when Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall visited DLA Headquarters the week before, he was impressed with the agency’s work across the board.

“He was just absolutely tickled pink with the performance of DLA,” the admiral said. “He could not be prouder of all of us as an agency for all that we’re doing across the globe.”

The admiral said DLA’s focus should be to “significantly improve performance while dramatically reducing costs,” and his Big Ideas – Improve Customer Service, Decrease Direct Material Costs, Decrease Operating Costs, Rightsize Inventory and Infrastructure, and Achieve Audit Readiness – are how the agency will meet that goal. He reiterated the agency’s goal of saving $13 billion by fiscal 2019.

“We’ve got $3 billion in the bank now, and that’s real money,” he said. “What that means is, this year, … we’re already $3 billion less expensive than what we would be otherwise.”

That $3 billion already represents a large chunk of the $4 billion the Office of the Secretary of Defense originally asked DLA to cut from its operating budget, and Harnitchek said he was confident the agency would meet the significantly more ambitious number of $13 billion. He implored the civilian workforce to make sure that goal is met after he and other military leaders have moved on.

“I won’t be here in ’19, but some of you will be, so keep going hard,” he said. “It’s the civilian workforce that’s going to do this. You guys are the backbone of this outfit. The military just lets us come in and learn from you guys, and you let us run the show. All this mass of critical activity, … when all of us go, you guys keep this up, because it’s important and it just has to be done.”

Harnitchek highlighted a list of recent accomplishments from across the agency, including the reduction in inventory, the increase in material availability, retrograde efforts in Afghanistan, improvements in the sale of military vehicles that will give more money back to the military services, massive savings in the medical supply chain, reverse auctions, the agency’s efforts to increase contract award times, a new fuel partnership with the Department of Energy, and DLA’s upcoming audit assertion of its inventory.

With DLA’s current culture survey close to its end, the admiral encouraged employees to take the survey before it closes May 30. He pointed to past improvements like fitness time, expanded telework, and increased employee recognition as results of the 2012 Culture Survey, which saw 71 percent of the workforce participate. As of May 27, 56 percent had participated in the current survey. Harnitchek stressed that the survey is completely anonymous.

“I don’t really care who you are, what I care about is that I get your input back. I’ll tell you flat out, we can’t fix things unless we know what’s wrong with them,” he said. “I read that stuff, and I take it very seriously. If there’s something that you don’t like, something you do like, or something that we could do better, and you haven’t filled out your survey yet, I’d advise you to do that.”

Before taking questions from the audience, Harnitchek recognized members of the workforce for their contributions. He presented a coin to DLA Information Operations’ Michael Puterbaugh, who in December received the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award in recognition of Puterbaugh’s two years of service in Umm Qasr, Iraq. He then recognized DLA Document Services’ David Canada, who was presented with the Department of Defense Spirit of Service Award for his 36 years of federal service May 9 at a Pentagon ceremony.

Harnitchek also recognized nine teams from across the agency for their work in support of his five “Big Ideas” with Strategic Goals Awards. The categories and recipients were:

Photo: Speaking to auditorium in front of 'Logzilla' graphic.
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DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek compares the agency’s efforts at crushing logistics problems to movie monster Godzilla May 28 during a Director’s Call with the agency’s workforce at the McNamara Headquarters Complex. Photo by Teodora Mocanu
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