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News | Oct. 7, 2016

DCMA LM Orlando employee develops idea to automate program assessment reports

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Keith Kalbfleisch is a problem solver, especially when it comes to program assessment reports.


PARs are reports completed by Defense Contract Management Agency personnel, such as engineers and industrial specialists, who provide updates to customers regarding the status of their contracts. Kalbfleisch and others from around the agency developed a faster and better way to provide the timely reports to customers.


“Our traditional approach is to gather information for a month, prepare a report during the next month, then release the report, which is a possible two-month delay in the information,” said Kalbfleisch, the engineering and manufacturing director at DCMA Lockheed Martin Orlando. 


“The new process would be a written PAR each quarter, matching up to the (Defense Acquisition Executive Summary) requirements, with instant notices throughout the quarter to customers if there are changes in the program status,” he said. “This gives us the historical detail we need, along with nearly instantaneous notices to customers, if required.”


Kalbfleisch said the previous approach of writing PARs needed to be updated to enhance customer service and create better productivity for DCMA employees.


“Currently, our PARs provide information dated by months and are uploaded in a PDF format, which limits their usefulness,” said Kalbfleisch. “For example, if someone at headquarters wants to find all of the programs with a certain problem subcontractor, they would have to open and read every PAR. 


“Our data must go to a variety of our customers, including program offices, program executive officers and our chain of command,” added Kalbfleisch. “This critical understanding of the contractor and program, including a well-reasoned assessment, needs quick and accurate reporting. The automated PARs will help us get our reporting to our customers quicker, with more accuracy and consistency.”


Kalbfleisch said DCMA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Wendy Masiello challenged the employees at DCMA LM Orlando last year to help the agency become more agile with information sharing, both within the agency and to customers.


“We took on the effort, first investigating the current process and exploring customer needs,” he said. “With this information, we created a new concept based on DCMA 360. We did a proof-of-concept internally, then a live pilot program with notional data, and finally an actual demonstration program using real data on real programs. Up to this time, it was internal to our contract management office. However, when it was briefed at higher levels in the agency last fall, it was recognized as something that could help with an important need, and a rapid improvement effort was organized. Since that time, much effort from all across the agency has been invested to bring this tool to the field soon.”


Army Col. Jeff Phillips, DCMA LM Orlando commander, said his team was determined to come up with a solution to provide more timely PARs to customers.


“Our team was passionate about this idea and worked tirelessly to build momentum,” said Phillips. “They brainstormed possible solutions, tested concepts and gathered feedback during the development process. Once they had a working concept, they told everyone that would listen. When the Process Working Group bought into the concept, our team graciously turned over all the lessons learned and assisted with the final development efforts.


“We are extremely proud of the work that Keith and his team did to jump start this effort,” added Phillips. “This entire agency is filled with people who see a problem and work diligently to find a solution that benefits everyone, and we think that this is a good example of that kind of initiative. Feedback from senior leaders has been very positive.”


The new PAR will be located on the DCMA 360 website, and in conjunction, a new electronic functional input template, also known as eFIT, created by DCMA Raytheon Tucson, will be available. eFIT is a tool used to document all surveillance and impact results. There will not be a difference in the content of the information required in the new PARs. There also isn’t a change to the requirements of what programs require a PAR — the change is only in the methodology of completing the report.


“When the Process Working Group was studying the situation, it was apparent that our reports, both PARs and eFITs, had areas needing improvement,” said Kalbfleisch. “We needed ways of standardizing inputs, formatting the results, and a new rhythm in our approach — these have been incorporated into the new PAR. For our customers, the new PAR will be radical in a good way. Any change in a customer’s program will prompt a trackable notice alerting them of the issue.”


For his work on establishing automated PARs, Kalbfleisch received the 2016 Outstanding Personnel of the Year award, which he accepted in June at the agency’s Worldwide Training Conference in Leesburg, Virginia.


“It felt great to receive the award, but this was a team effort and many people have contributed toward the realization of the concept we developed over a year ago,” he said.


Phillips is proud of his team, but said everyone around the agency is committed to supporting its customers.


“Our team’s effort in fixing a problem is not unique,” said Phillips. “Every contract management office has come across a problem and developed a local solution to fix that problem. Our advantage was that we were able to propose our solution to a PWG that attacked it with the power of the entire agency. We think that this is indicative of how local solutions can mature into agency-wide solutions.” 


Kalbfleisch said more information will be provided to employees regarding a future agency-wide implementation timeframe, training and field testing, but employees will see numerous benefits from the new automated process.


“The benefits are huge,” he said.  “Never before have we been able to have such control of our data. Never before have we been able to provide information to the program integrator to create accurate and consistent PARs, and never before has our agency had such an agile reporting process. 


“In the long term, we should see an improved understanding of surveillance processes, deeper comprehension of contractor issues and improved customer satisfaction. In DCMA, we are truly the eyes and ears of the Department of Defense in the manufacturing plants for our major programs,” added Kalbfleisch.