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News | June 20, 2019

International collaboration strengthens surveillance capabilities

By Elizabeth Szoke DCMA Public Affairs

The Air Force’s B-1 Lancer, was initially developed in the 1970’s and is still considered the “backbone of America’s long-range bomber force,” according to the Air Force’s official site.

The B-1 bomber is one product Defense Contract Management Agency employees oversee the production of around the clock and around the world. When oversight is required outside of the U.S., DCMA employees rely on the support of their foreign counterparts.

Quality assurance of products requires the agency and other international organizations to follow agreements set forth by NATO and the host nations, also known as the country in which the production is occurring. Through such agreements and an internal governance system, quality assurance specialists are able to delegate surveillance of over 1,800 contracts collectively located at 71 contractors in five nations reaching across four time zones.

“Meeting face-to-face with our host nation partners helps form stronger bonds, which in turn helps with the communications to carry out efficient surveillance,” said Erald Wiggan, DCMA quality assurance specialist. “Without this teaming relationship, DCMA U.K. could not provide this level of surveillance.”

DCMA U.K. hosted an information-sharing seminar with their host nation partners last year, which received positive feedback from those involved. Due to its success, DCMA U.K. recently hosted another meeting with an expanded audience to include representatives from the Danish Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation, also known as DALO; the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence Quality Assurance Field Force, or DQAFF; the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency and Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration.

“The way this meeting was organized and led resulted in a very informal communication with open-minded discussions regarding the subjects brought up,” said Kjell Rannekleiv, senior engineer of the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency Material Department. “When people with different knowledge and experience share and discuss, the results equal learning, new perspectives and ideas that can improve our personal subject matter expertise.”

Rannekleiv also said the meeting provided a better understanding of existing NATO standards and provided inputs for improvements on potential issues.
“I work on several productions such as the B-1,” said Katie Tomlin, DCMA International quality assurance specialist. “Because we are not always in the same time zones as our counterparts, setting aside some face-to-face interactions play a big role for us.”

Paul Hudson, host nation coordinator for DCMA U.K., led the meeting with group work, a summary of speaker sessions and organized quizzes.

“This year, we were able to share best practices in workload handover, as a result of a DCMA Lean Six Sigma black belt project,” said Hudson. “The U.K. MoD also shared their quality assurance surveillance approach. Both methods showcased some fantastic attendee workshops and feedback.”

According to the U.S. National Defense Strategy, working with allied partners and stakeholders to establish innovative procedures and execute international agreements strengthens U.S. partnerships abroad, which DCMA U.K. commander Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew VanGilder sees regularly with his team.

“This is a great opportunity for future enhancements to the active engagement we have with international industries,” said VanGilder. “By engaging regularly with our host nation counterparts, we are able to leverage both the formal and informal relationships to maximize benefits we derive from reciprocal government quality assurance processes.”

The DCMA U.K. team agrees that these partnerships bring cost-saving benefits, while giving them the agility to react to any concerns.

“International work is a team sport,” Hudson said. “Effective management of delegations and analysis of our allies’ surveillance results in the completion of products such as the B-1 with little to no risks involved.”