By Thomas Perry
DCMA Public Affairs
Air Force Col. Eric Obergfell (center), instructed his extended team of contracting professionals at Defense Contract Management Agency Dayton, Indianapolis and Cleveland that Continuous Process Improvement was a priority more than 24 months ago. Team members have embraced the initiative and success has followed. (DCMA graphic by Thomas Perry)
Spurred by their commander, Air Force Col. Eric Obergfell, Defense Contract Management Agency Dayton team members incorporated continuous process improvement, or CPI, into their daily warfighter support mission more than 24 months ago.
The initiative has sent positive reverberations throughout the Dayton enterprise, to include its streamlined commands: DCMA Indianapolis and DCMA Cleveland.
“A key aspect of the plan involved leveraging an often untapped resource — trained Lean Six Sigma Green and Black Belts,” said Mathew Duguid, Dayton’s lead Black Belt. “Their dedication and expertise have led to numerous accomplishments across multiple platforms.”
According to the Defense Acquisition University, CPI “is an integrated system of improvement that focuses on doing the right things, right. It is also an enterprise-wide ‘way of thinking’ for achieving lower cost, shorter lead times and higher quality.”
Obergfell, who began this effort “wanting to drive a culture of structured problem solving using data,” said there are five essentials to a successful CPI program:
—Unwavering leadership commitment: “Without a doubt, everyone must support the CPI program. I have made it clear that CPI is a priority in our contract management office.”
—Pick the right projects: “Our strategic planning sessions include employee input and a thorough assessment of contract management office performance. Our strategic planning is critical to ensuring we are working on the right projects at the right time.”
—Get everyone involved: “We run projects as multi-functional teams with representation from all three commands. Diversity on our teams produces an accurate assessment of our current processes with comprehensive solutions that will work for everyone. Involvement is highly encouraged, either as a leader or a participant, and ideas come from many avenues, including a CPI suggestion box.”
—Leverage technology: “Most of our CPI solutions are developed organically by our local engineering team. This allows us to rapidly field solutions and provide timely updates.”
—Manage the CPI process: “Big-time changes require big-time people, we had to get the right people on the bus.”
With a bevy of projects on the horizon, Dayton needed to ensure they not only had the right people but enough of the right people. Since launching the CPI initiative, staff at the Ohio-based office have earned nine Green Belts and one Black Belt. During that 24 months, they completed 11 LSS projects — the most of any agency CMO.
Duguid, who is currently serving as the initiative’s manager, said CPI has steadily transformed the organizational culture and has empowered everyone.
“Our investment in CPI is paying-off big time,” said Duguid. “Our Lean Six Sigma projects are developing stronger leaders and fostering teamwork. There are plenty of opportunities to join or lead important projects that are providing better value to the warfighter and taxpayer through more efficient, effective and affordable processes.”
Recently the command’s umbrella of influence has led to four notable successes: development of a manufacturing playbook; improvements to the Nonconforming Material, or NCM, process; commitment to providing ‘one voice’ to the customer by preventing duplication of efforts outside the CMO’s geographic area of responsibility on specific programs; and the creation of a new system to manage contracts open for 180 days past the final delivery date, known as PFDD.
A team of subject matter experts developed a manufacturing playbook, which is a series of documented strategies to improve on-time delivery. Duguid referred to the playbook as an “integral part of DCMA Dayton’s novel approach to manufacturing surveillance.”
It provides step-by-step instructions to improve OTD at the contract line item number level. Paired with Dayton’s delinquency prediction model, the playbook allows users to target surveillance of specific CLINs to directly improve OTD.
“It has afforded the CMO’s manufacturing personnel a consistent and customer-driven strategy for resolving schedules at risk for delinquency,” said Devin Downing, DCMA Cleveland Black Belt manufacturing playbook project leader. “Since the playbook’s deployment, the command has realized on-time delivery percentages in excess of 80 percent for four consecutive months after not having met this threshold over a span of 24 months.”
The development team was comprised of manufacturing professionals including Joseph Holbrook, Raul Luna, Jenny Murphy, Mark Musial and Brian Urichich. Their efforts were supported by Dayton’s Engineering and Manufacturing Group Chief Jason Edem, as well as Duguid and Obergfell. This collaboration led to broader change outside the purview of OTD.
“Not only does the playbook support the command’s effort to ensure warfighters have their supplies on time, it also serves as a platform on which other strategies or ‘plays’ can be developed to mitigate challenges posed by unique schedules,” said Downing. “Furthermore, since its deployment, two plays specific to our CMO workload have been added to the playbook based on feedback received from the manufacturing workforce and our customers.”
According to the DCMA NCM Instruction, the goals of the NCM process include effectively controlling contractors’ nonconforming supplies and services, and ensuring appropriate root cause and corrective action is taken to prevent recurrence and to discourage the repeated acceptance of nonconforming supplies and services.
Bill Williams is currently dual-hatted as DCMA Indianapolis deputy commander and engineering and manufacturing group leader. He said the NCM challenge is unique in that it requires the alignment of thoughts and actions across three functions — quality assurance, engineering and contracting.
Despite the challenges of cross-function synergy, Dayton utilized the Lean Six Sigma methodology to reduce defects in its NCM process by 82 percent, enhance communication and develop a 360 based solution to ensure repeatable results through a harmonized enterprise approach. The solution, configuration routing execution standardization tool, or CREST for short, allows for real-time input and communication across all functions.
“The defects within our process were because we had not standardized our approach across the enterprise,” said Williams, the NCM Black Belt project leader. “Different teams were executing and documenting actions in different ways. The heart of our ability to sustain such an improvement is CREST. It walks the technical specialist and administrative contracting officer through each and every step of the NCM process with various mistake proofing tools along the way. Additionally, all information is archived electronically and will be used for further analysis and to identify trends.”
Although this process is still in its infancy, Williams said the command has seen great results and is excited by his team’s next LSS project focused on the contractor producing the highest volume of NCM actions.
“This effort and projects like it, are a natural output of a command that is building a CPI culture,” said Williams. “Many of the issues our group tackles are initially identified by the employees, which is an indicator of growing employee engagement and a mindset for continuous improvement aimed at achieving our agency goals. By personally championing each of the projects, Col. Obergfell, has generated energy and excitement throughout the command.”
The NCM LSS team won the office's Team of the Quarter for the 2017 second quarter. The team included Richard Slaght, Joe Lippert, Doug Moran, Kevin Baker, Marikay Cole and Rodger Clark.
Contract administration outside a geographic area of responsibility
DCMA Dayton has been responsible for the worldwide centralized contract administration services for Air Force simulators and contract field teams since the mid-1990s. In order to provide ‘one voice’ to the program offices, Dayton is often required to perform contract administration services on individual contracts awarded outside its geographic area of responsibility. In the past, Dayton team members required SIM and CFT contractors to obtain and retain ‘exception’ commercial and government entity, or CAGE, codes for administration purposes only.
According to Mathew Skelly, DCMA Dayton contract administrator and Black Belt project leader, 2014 Procedures, Guidance and Information policy changes eliminated exception CAGE codes. This change impacted Dayton’s ability to effectively administer its contract administration workload.
From this dilemma, a LSS project was launched. A Dayton-led Black Belt team worked with Timothy Callahan, DCMA’s Contracts director, and agency functional information resource management personnel to research and examine various methods to ensure a viable path forward to mission success. After much deliberation with all parties involved, it was decided that Dayton would maintain responsibility for centralized contract administration services but the method in which the command executes would change.
“There is now a defined and standardized agency-level process for transferring specific contracts from CMO to CMO when it is determined that one command should be the leader for the agency for a specific program,” said Obergfell. “We worked through the details on agency-level information technology systems to enable effective workload transfer in conjunction with letters of delegation to consolidate program specific work that would have otherwise been spread over numerous CMOs.”
The most impressive aspect of this project may be its wide-area impact. Skelly said this solution has improved customer satisfaction, reduced administration variability and eliminated waste through duplication of efforts at 17 offices.
Like most LSS projects, this effort encouraged teamwork throughout the command. This project’s uniqueness stems from its partnering of multiple agency functions and locations to include multiple offices, directorates, the FIRM team and Senior Executive Service support.
Skelly specifically thanked Marie Greening, Richard Fanney, Edem, Callahan, Obergfell, Daniel Cuff, Andrew Miskovich, David Schlatter, Chad Salyer, Daniel Fuentes, Boyd Long, Robert Powell, Erik Mims, Michael Jacobs, Gina Cope, and “everyone else not mentioned who contributed greatly to the success of this project.”
Reduction of contracts past final delivery date
When Dayton’s Contract personnel set out to reduce the number of its contracts PFDD, their plan was rooted in establishing a functional system by improving the command’s reporting mechanism and increasing wide-spread awareness of PFDD analysis techniques. The team decided its aggressive plan would be best established through a series of quick wins to build momentum.
“The team achieved quick wins through coordinated efforts of personnel in targeting specific ‘low-hanging fruit.’ In other words, target specific contract types that should not be on the PFDD list and those contracts that are more easily resolved,” said Mike Oberneder, DCMA Indianapolis general engineer and Green Belt PFDD project leader.
The strategy led to a swift 22 percent improvement. Now that a battle rhythm is established the Contract’s team is targeting more complex PFDD contracts. It also hopes to sharpen its processes and training moving forward.
Like Dayton’s other projects, the PFDD team included multifunctional representation to include Brian Gallinger, Pam Batlak, Norma Shreves, Marcia Ehresman and Deb Fuelling.
Media Relations: 804-734-1492
FOIA Requests: 804-734-1466
Download the DCMA Media Kit (PDF)