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News | Aug. 19, 2020

DCMA Atlanta supports rapid acquisition for COVID response

By Jason Kaneshiro DCMA Eastern Region

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, the Air Force needed a way to fly contagious patients to get the care they needed while keeping their pilots and flight crews safe from infection.

DCMA Atlanta personnel played a key role in the rapid development and fielding of a negative pressure conex to realize those goals.

The Transportation Command and the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command collaborated on a design for a negatively pressurized conex for patients that could be transported on C-17 Globemaster III or C-130 Hercules aircraft.

The C-17 program office recognized the risk in quickly developing and fielding a new piece of equipment and requested that DCMA be involved in technical support during the development and delivery of the NPC, said Steven Edmunds, DCMA Eastern Region quality director.

“While DCMA is known to be the preeminent provider of contract administration services on large programs and sustainment, our rapid acquisition capabilities are often overlooked or unknown to our customers … even within our own agency,” Edmunds said.

USTRANSCOM and AMC entered into an agreement with DCMA Atlanta to provide the technical support the program office requested.

Close collaboration and involvement throughout the development cycle was necessary to mitigate risks that could have include the adding of new requirements, said Steve Baughman, DCMA general engineer who took a lead role in the oversight and review and supported DCMA’s quality assurance team working on the project.

“I was involved early on with our contract management office team to support the NPC build process oversight from the engineering perspective,” Baughman said. “My focus was on the design and welding aspects and issues that were a key part in the build to ensure its structural integrity with regards to its design criteria.”

Baughman worked with DCMA quality assurance on the welding processes and inspections that required a large number of attach points for things like seating and structural support within the NPC.

“The container had to be beefed up quite a bit to ensure it could survive fairly substantial g-forces in the event of an accident,” Baughman said.

Since DCMA works closely across functional areas, Baughman said the agency already knows how vital teamwork and communication is.

Along with Baughman, Vern Lewis, quality assurance specialist, led the effort to identify the manufacturing processes that had the greatest risks and implemented a multifunctional surveillance system to mitigate those risks, while continuing to ensure the expedited manufacturing and delivery schedule for the NPC.

“DCMA Atlanta quality assurance was requested to provide surveillance for the processes used by the contractors during the build,” Lewis said. “This required several meetings to discuss the best way forward including creating a Memorandum of Agreement that all parties agreed upon and getting approval for work on this Other Transactional Authority agreement.”

The team also submitted a report which was a critical artifact in the airworthiness certification of the NPC, Lewis said.

The work included:

  • Engineering and structural changes requested by the program office
  • More than 600 welds with 23 welding processes and 250 inspections
  • DCMA surveillance of eight process reviews, four product examinations
  • Data collection and analysis

The first NPCs were delivered June 7 with two additional deliveries to date.

“DCMA provided assurance and value to the program as it assisted in the rapid development, production and shipment of the NPC, which performed its first patient movement July,” Edmunds said.

“Geographic CMO’s such as DCMA Atlanta maintain a force of value -based specialists that can augment quickly to assist programs developing new quality products and delivering them to the Warfighter,” Edmunds continued. “Recent events in our country have highlighted the need for an agile force within DCMA.”