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News | Sept. 17, 2019

DCMA Northrop Grumman Baltimore launches CPI office

By DCMA Northrop Grumman Baltimore

Defense Contract Management Agency Northrop Grumman Baltimore recently launched a Continuous Process Improvement office called Management Understanding Difficulties, also known as MUD. DCMA Northrop Grumman Baltimore is a tertiary office under DCMA Baltimore.

“With the objective of leaning out business system inefficiencies, the office will identify quality and work flow issues that impact deliverables to the warfighter,” said Tyler Blackshear, a quality assurance supervisor and a Lean Six Sigma black belt. “Additionally, the CPI office will design and implement improvement strategies that yield greater productivity for the warfighter.”

Air Force Lt. Col. Jeremy Colvin, the commander of DCMA Northrop Grumman Baltimore, Ricardo Barriera, deputy director, and Blackshear began developing the CPI office in October 2018 and officially launched it in March 2019.

MUD’s focus is to improve processes, products and services that the warfighter receives by using CPI concepts. CPI utilizes a Lean Six Sigma systematic approach of developing and promoting a culture of continuous improvement, focusing on areas of reliability, cycle times, resource consumption, quality and productivity.

“MUD’s scope is to assist the local work groups by cutting waste and leaning out their inefficient processes to help them see clear and become more efficient as they serve the warfighter,” said Blackshear.

The team has already implemented changes for the DCMA Baltimore contract management office to become more proficient. The team recently completed a CPI project that streamlined the daily standup quality assurance meeting.

According to Blackshear, employees utilized the Lean Six Sigma A3 model to guide them to define issues, map out processes, cut waste and implement improvements. Following this model, the team recognized during a meeting that they were swaying off topic and were not focused on value-added tasks. A time study revealed the average meeting length was 45 minutes.

With that data, the team mapped out value-added tasks and designed small, but impactful, improvements such as redesigning the daily matrix board, creating a lead checklist and requiring a hard shut down of the meeting after 15 minutes. Taken separately, the changes seemed small. However, a post-project study revealed better tracking of daily tasks, efficient exchange of data and an overall reduction in time devoted to meetings. As a result, Blackshear said the time savings freed up approximately 530 man hours annually for the QA team members.

“These were impressive results for the inaugural project, which illustrates the value of CPI and the positive nature of the Continuous Process Improvement,” said Blackshear. “The lesson learned is that small changes have a big impact on customer satisfaction and the bottom line for the agency.”

In addition, the office has launched other projects. One project will focus on improving on-time deliverables for the industrial specialist work group and another project will focus on expediting the on-boarding process for new hires.

“The MUD office is pushing forward to accept new CPI projects in an effort to make the DCMA Northrop Grumman Baltimore office lean and efficient,” said Blackshear. “It is with this mindset that the office eagerly awaits future project submissions for the DCMA Baltimore CMO. We’re open for business.”

Editor's Note: For more information about DCMA’s overall CPI program and available training, contact Andrew Miskovich, the agency’s CPI director and a master black belt, at, or visit