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By Jason Kaneshiro
DCMA Eastern Region Public Affairs
When COVID-19 was declared a national emergency in March 2020, offices, schools and much of America’s infrastructure shuttered.
Throughout the uncertainties mandated by the pandemic, a Defense Contract Management Agency team members with Naval Special Emphasis Operations remained on the job to keep vital Navy components flowing through the supply chain and an economic valve open for local communities with Department of Defense manufacturers.
James Hewitt, a quality assurance specialist with DCMA NSEO contract management office and a mission partner at DCMA Twin Cities, continued his in-plant work inspections despite pandemic-related obstacles.
“Our CMO team has a very specialized and detailed mission to support our Navy customers’ specialized requirements,” said Hewitt, whose work ensured continual operation of the Navy’s submarine and aircraft carrier programs. “Both of those weapons platforms are extremely critical as a deterrence to those countries that would do harm to the United States. As a veteran, I pride myself on personal responsibility, dedication, and integrity to the men and women of all of our armed services.”
Hewitt, a veteran who served for eight years in the U.S. Air Force, said that it was important to ensure minimal supply chain disruption to the fleet.
“Navy shipbuilding and maintenance schedules are tight,” Hewitt said. “It’s very important that I do my part to ensure schedules are kept with very minimal delay. As a Veteran, I pride myself on personal responsibility, dedication and loyalty to the men and women of all of our armed services. ”
DCMA’s adherence to the Navy’s construction and maintenance schedules also impacted local economies during the pandemic.
“When a quality assurance representative goes into a contractor facility, especially a small business — and we have many of them — they depend on the income generated from the contract,” Hewitt said. “They can’t afford to wait for payment the same way we can’t afford to wait for the product.”
Through timely payments to small business that were critical suppliers of parts, DCMA ensured those businesses could remain open and their employees could continue to be paid.
“When I go into a facility to accept product on behalf of the Department of Defense, it clearly helps the business and the local economy,” Hewitt said. “They are able to get paid for their goods or services provided and that keeps the local economy going.”
Ronald Mitchell, a quality assurance representative with DCMA NSEO, said his own experience in the military drives him as well.
“We verify that the product is manufactured correctly to contract via part number or drawings,” Mitchell said. “As a veteran, and knowing that your life and those around you depend on the correct part to save the mission or a life, I know that I have always made sure the Navy will receive what they need, when they need it, and it is contractually correct.”
Mitchell said it was of critical importance to keep local suppliers open and operating; and the agency could not risk allowing serious disruption to the supply chain.
“We have to keep America ready to defend against any enemies around the globe,” Mitchell said. “If the supply chain breaks down, the nation’s war-fighting capability breaks down and that might cost lives.”
While individual contributions by DCMA’s quality assurance personnel were key in keeping operations functional, Hewitt attributed his success to his team and others within the agency who have continued to provide the support he needs to perform his job.
“I am a virtual team member six-hours away from my team leader. Communication is key during these unique times,” Hewitt said. “It would be very difficult to do my job without the help of the peers on my team, my team leader and the rest of the chain of command.”
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