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News | June 17, 2016

Grand Rapids navigates swift OTD boost

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - After 40 months in command, Army Col. William Robare will depart Defense Contract Management Agency Detroit June 21. Not satisfied with the typical memento, DCMA Grand Rapids team members launched a collective effort in conjunction with their industry counterparts at GE Aviation to increase on-time delivery, or OTD, from 48 to 98 percent.

The accomplishment took Grand Rapids, a tertiary of Detroit, just nine months, and while there was no rallying cry “this is for Robare,” such a significant improvement in warfighter support is the perfect gift for an agency commander.

“The team members at Grand Rapids have been integral to our contract management office’s push to enhance every facet of how we provide mission support to the warfighter,” said Robare, whose command was recognized for excellence with the Director’s Cup at the agency’s Operations Directorate level in both 2014 and 2015. “Their dedication is truly second to none.”

Fifty percentage points is a dramatic improvement for any statistic, but how does such a jump in OTD impact the agency mission?

“Speaking for the delivery statistics of the repair actions in house, the return of assets to the field as soon as possible is optimum and improves the in-theatre capability of the warfighter,” said Marla Armstrong, a Grand Rapids administrative contracting officer. “Grounded aircraft and mission incapable situations are reduced by quick returns.”

Speed can be as important on the factory floor as it is on the battlefield, but it should not supplant quality. Agency team members across the globe walk a fine line as they establish rapport with industry counterparts while maintaining the ability to provide unfettered acquisition insight to customers. According to Robare, his Grand Rapids GE Aviation contract management team has struck a perfect balance.

“The dramatic result was really due to the collaborative teaming between the key players on both sides - government and industry,” said Robare, whose next assignment will be as the director, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) Forward in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. “As the OTD problem materialized, everyone rolled up their sleeves to identify and correct its underpinning causes. The entire contract management team did a fantastic job.”

As for individual accolades, Robare lauded Mark Van Linden’s outstanding efforts as an industrial specialist. “Mark forged a strong working relationship with his GE Aviation counterparts and provided invaluable insight that facilitated consequential actions to improve their OTD,” Robare said.

Early in the process, Van Linden recognized the importance of top-down commitment.

“It was very important to get the ‘buy in’ of the entire organization that OTD was a cultural mindset and not a blame game,” Van Linden explained. “This was only possible if the highest levels of management within the organization led the cause to improve the OTD performance. As soon as they saw the entire problem quantified and realized the solutions, it was quick work to implement the systems and changes needed to influence delivery performance. The contractor adopted a culture change from the top down, and we were able to alter the contractor’s perception of DCMA as problem solvers as opposed to just problem finders.”

Robare and his team, whom he called “a remarkable group of brilliant professionals,” have identified and provided solutions for many “problems” throughout his 40-month tour, but that will soon be someone else’s responsibility as Army Col. Tommie Lucius prepares to assume command.

“I will leave the agency with profound appreciation for its suite of capabilities and with gratitude to the finest men and women of our CMO as well as those in the DCMA enterprise who are committed to its vital mission,” said Robare.