By Vice Adm. David Lewis
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in DCMA’s 2019 INSIGHT Magazine, which highlights the agency's global warfighter support from F-35 to foreign military sales. The online version of the magazine can be found here.
Welcome to the Defense Contract Management Agency’s INSIGHT magazine.
For decades, DCMA and our predecessors have safeguarded the defense acquisition process, making sure our servicemembers get the equipment they need, that our customers’ interests are protected, that taxpayer dollars are used wisely, and that our defense industrial base remains healthy. Those responsibilities will never change, but how we approach them needs to evolve to match exponential progression in technology, from emerging cyber threats to the newest manufacturing processes.
In 2018, three things happened that will significantly shape DCMA’s work. In January, the Department of Defense published the National Defense Strategy. In February, a DoD reorganization was completed establishing the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. And in August, the federal government authorized the largest defense budget in history.
At more than $700 billion, the budget provides our military services and buying commands the ability to purchase new equipment and systems while modernize others, resulting in additional or continuing contracts with industry. As the primary administrator for most of these contracts, the influx in work we expect is welcomed, but has required us to reexamine our processes and use of resources. We’re relooking at everything, to make sure we’re doing the right work, in the right way, using the right tools.
THE RIGHT WORK
One significant outcome of this examination was our implementation of a High Value/High Risk approach to workload acceptance, a critical step in making sure we’re focusing on the products which are most vital to our warfighters. We do this by defining the right work as that which meets the requirements of our governing Federal Acquisition Regulation clause plus several additional statutory requirements — nothing more, nothing less.
This has spurred great dialogue with our customers, because High Value/High Risk affects them, too. We’re all operating with the same goals, in this case the National Defense Strategy’s first Line of Effort: Build a More Lethal Force. How we do that, particularly how we balance speed, efficiency and resources in the acquisition process, will pay dividends for DCMA and its customers for years to come.
It’s also led us to deploy our workforce in new ways. The agency has about 12,000 people, 85 percent of whom are federally acquisition certified. Over the course of last year and this year, we’ll transition about 10 percent of our acquisition billets from lower value and lower risk work into work with greater value for our warfighters, or with greater risk for them if not done right. As of the beginning of 2019, we are about 40 percent there, and will finish this transformation later this year.
High Value/High risk will also inform the way we conduct what we call reimbursable work, where DCMA’s costs are billed to the customer, rather than funded by the agency’s budget. This includes non-DoD federal agencies, such as NASA, and many of our partner nations through our robust support to Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales. The latter two of these are part of our contribution to the National Defense Strategy’s second Line of Effort: Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners (see page 26 for more on FMS).
THE RIGHT WAY
Earlier this year we published our Strategic Plan. It is an evolution of past plans, brought current by incorporating guidance from DoD and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, as well as the changing landscape of technology and cybersecurity.
The foundation of our Strategic Plan remains delivery, with our goals designed to ensure we are directly supporting the National Defense Strategy, while remaining accountable to taxpayers and taking care of our workforce.
In 2017, we stood up a new way of managing our policies and procedures, with an eye toward building a collection of right ways, agency wide, to do business. The Business Capability Framework is a cultural shift for the agency, but the long-term benefits of having standardized best practices can’t be underestimated.
There are 89 primary or streamlined contract management offices and a dozen or so centers and specialty commands at DCMA, each with a different focus or geographic responsibility. Our Business Capabilities Framework will ensure that each is performing enterprise-wide functions in the same way. At the same time, if a “better” way presents itself, we need to be agile enough to see that, evaluate it and promulgate it throughout the agency quickly. We have an obligation to provide our workforce, customers and industry counterparts one right way — the best way — to do each function, for efficiency, predictability and effectiveness.
THE RIGHT TOOLS
Ours is a human-driven agency. We provide thousands of subject matter experts and support personnel who keep the acquisition process on track during the contract lifecycle. This workforce relies on tools to do the job, from secure workspaces to connectivity.
In the past two years we’ve looked closely at the tools we’re using, with an understanding that working smarter, not harder, is the way to meet mission requirements, efficiently use our resources and keep our workforce engaged.
We’ve made great strides in, and have a clear path to meet our 2019 goal of, migrating our information technology infrastructure to the Defense Information Systems Agency. This will include email, data centers and other services which DISA just does better — and more cost effectively — than we can. This will provide a 30 percent or more cost savings, but more importantly it will let us focus our IT resources on refining or replacing the mission-critical applications that are specific to DCMA, or that drive our relationships with customers and our industry counterparts.
We’ve done some great rebuilding in the past year, in a more literal sense, with our facilities as well. You can read more about that in this magazine, but the short version is we’re getting our people into more efficient and secure environments and maximizing our use of space.
Technology has become a force in our decision making, and gives us so much flexibility for everything from where our people sit, to how we train them, to the tools they use to do their jobs. I’m excited about the possibilities here, and proud that DCMA is among those in the non-military, DoD support world — the Fourth Estate — who are taking an early lead in many of these areas.
THE RIGHT OUTCOMES
Fundamentally, we deliver products, from replacement parts to full systems and vehicles.
Some of these are instantly recognizable. In fiscal 2018 we delivered 457 aircraft worth more than $1 million each, and hundreds more unmanned aerial vehicles with smaller price tags. One of the newest platforms in our fleet is the KC-46A Pegasus tanker, the first of which our team delivered just months ago.
Last year we delivered nearly 2,000 ground combat vehicles, including $400 million worth of the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. And we delivered 54 missile systems and 559 missiles valued at more than $1 million each, plus thousands of smaller munitions.
Others are less visible, but essential to our warfighters’ success, survivability or sustainment. Targeting pods, sonobouys, replacement engines, generators, radios and rifles are examples of these items. In FY18, we delivered more than 583 million items, that’s nearly 1.6 million items a day. This is our true contribution to lethality.
We did all this efficiently. Working within our $1.4 billion budget, last year DCMA saved, recovered or avoided spending $4.85 billion. That’s a return of $3.46 on every $1 invested in us.
Our goal is to perform the right work, in the right way, using the right tools. Fortunately, we have the right people on board to do this. Every DCMA employee is essential to our national defense, and together they form a dedicated workforce that delivers every day.
DoD’s mission is “to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.” DCMA is proud to enable this through providing the equipment, insight and affordability our warfighters need to get the job done.
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