Marines developing logistics portal

Marine Corps logistics officials this month singled out as many as 10 legacy

systems to be retired by next month and are developing a prototype for a

logistics Web portal that would be rolled out in 2002.

The Corps maintains as many as 200 logistics systems for deployment,

health services, maintenance, transportation and other functions, said Col.

Robert Love, head of the Integrated Logistics Capability Center at Marine

Corps Headquarters.

The Marines are scrutinizing each system to see if it meets their business

needs. "There's a current move in [the Department of Defense] to fix systems,"

Love said. "That's not our way. We're trying to develop a whole new way

of doing business. Trying to fix systems is like rearranging deck chairs

on the Titanic."

As an example, Love described the Corps' 168 base-level maintenance

shops, where "there's been an unplanned duplication of capabilities." Each

shop usually fixes only those vehicles that belong to its organization.

Shop customers have to fill out their own requisition forms and make their

own repair diagnoses, Love said. The average repair time is 50 to 60 days,

he said.

The Marines are changing the way the shops do business, making each

operating force responsible for simple repairs.

Another change is embodied in the logistics portal, which the Marines,

with contractor help, are developing at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The Web-based

portal will enable ground forces to fill out forms online and receive estimates

about repair time via the Web, Love said. The portal should be validated

in 2001 and ready for servicewide rollout in 2002. The Marines have been

working on it for two months.

"We've used it so far for ground combat support," Love said. "We're

now looking at ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore capabilities."

The next version of the system will enable users to receive automatically

generated e-mail messages with order tracking data, and users can let the

repair shops know when they need their vehicles back from service.

The system should put more pressure on Marines to reduce customer wait

time, Love said. "It's frustrating. I can go home and order a jacket online

from L.L. Bean. I have to come in here and fill out an antiquated requisition

form."

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