Business transformation puts DLA in the know

Business transformation is starting to pick up steam at the Defense Logistics Agency.

In 2004, the agency restructured its IT directorate to give it full management and operational control of disparate divisions that had performed IT functions in separate and often redundant ways. The agency also recently shut down a 20-year-old logistics system to make way for new business processes.
Mae DeVincentis, the agency’s CIO, sees DLA’s restructured IT directorate as a “knowledge broker, providing comprehensive, best-practice technological support to the Defense Department and DLA logistics business community.”
DeVincentis said the more than 3,300 employees in the agency’s J-6 Information Operations Directorate are responsible for DLA’s global IT and ensuring the agency’s IT strategy is consistent with the DOD Information Management Strategic Plan.

New responsibilities

Last year, the agency reconfigured all its IT divisions under a single director of information operations to improve the operating efficiency of IT support. Although J-6 has existed since 2001, it was recently designated the broker to all IT functions, with full management and responsibility of those functions.
“It was decided in 2004 to operationalize certain functions within DLA, including all IT operations, to eliminate redundant functions that existed between the headquarters and field activities,” DeVincentis said.

One of the major J-6 initiatives is the agency’s enterprise resource planning system, known as the Business Systems Modernization program. BSM, which is replacing two antiquated systems, recently completed the concept demonstration phase and is now more than a third of the way through its full implementation, according to Dave Falvey, program executive officer of the Information Operations Directorate.

In January, DLA began a monthly rollout schedule of users and items to be incorporated into BSM that will be followed until the program reaches full operational capacity in September 2006, Falvey said. Program officials originally targeted January 2006 for full operational capability but moved the schedule back to the original September 2006 date approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Users primarily work at Defense supply centers in Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., and Columbus, Ohio.

The January rollout coincided with the phase-out of the Defense Integrated Subsistence Management System, one of the agency’s two legacy logistics systems. All worldwide subsistence items have since been migrated to BSM. DLA will begin shutting down the second legacy system, the Standard Automated Materiel Management System, in late 2006, after BSM reaches full operational capacity.

The Defense Logistics Agency currently manages about $3.9 billion in annual sales, with about 2,600 current users and 1.1 million supply items. At the time of full cutover, Falvey said, BSM will cover nearly 6,000 users, managing more than 5,000 items that account for more than $23 billion in annual sales.
“BSM is providing direct warfighter support, around the clock, every day, such as worldwide food supply chain support,” Falvey said. “At these sales volumes, DLA is operating a business the size of Starbucks utilizing a commercial-based enterprise business system. This size business will make DLA one of the largest users of an ERP system in the world.”
BSM will enable clerks to make supply queries online, place orders, improve delivery time, have automated product data information, and give commanders immediate access to stock information.

The system is expected to cut costs, eliminate mistakes and reduce the time it takes to fill orders. From the time an order is received and processed, to procurement and financial management, BSM is designed to reduce the turnaround and cut IT costs, Falvey said.

Still, the Government Accountability Office has issued reports in recent years slamming the program as incompatible with DOD’s overarching business enterprise architecture.

DeVincentis attributed the critical reports to the program’s rollout schedule, but said that BSM is being built to comply with the BEA.

“It is technically true that BSM has been designed and implemented ahead of the achievement of an overall DOD-wide architecture,” she said. “But we believe, through our own efforts and the extensive coordination in place across DOD logistics systems practitioners, that BSM is and will continue to be compatible with DOD’s overarching approach. We also believe our progress to date and continued support from various other overseers confirms we are on the right track.”

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