WASHINGTON (May 25, 2017) – A process improvement effort to streamline how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District purchases its supplies paid off during a ceremony May 18, 2017 at the Pentagon when the Army’s Lean Six Sigma Award Program gave its Process Improvement Project Team Excellence Award to the project delivery team.
Karl F. Schneider, senior career official performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Army, recognized organizations, project team members, and individual practitioners for outstanding contributions improving Army business processes. In welcoming the award winners, he stressed how the Army’s Lean Six Sigma program lines up with the priorities of the president and secretary of defense.
“In order to afford to rebuild the military, we have to reform the way the military does business,” Schneider said. “We have to garner savings from our business world to pay for the readiness of our forces.”
Schneider and Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, director of the Office of Business Transformation, recognized the Nashville District’s team for its Defense Logistics Agency Procurement Process.
Nashville District operations, legal, resource management, contracting and quality and process improvement experts implemented a pilot program in 2014 to utilize DLA's Facilities Maintenance Repair Operations Program, which resulted in more than 70 transactions to purchase critical supply items such as intake crane cables, remote switching and racking devices that reduce arc flash hazards, air winches, sump pumps, and fall protection and rescue systems.
Utilizing DLA to procure these items reduced the time it took to award contracts and for supplies to be delivered. The project reduced contracting office labor from 45 hours to 25 minutes, enabling contract specialists to focus on more complex procurements.
"The process improvement reduced the process cycle time by 50 percent from an average of 75 days to 37 days," said Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander. "More importantly, because of the efficiencies gained by leveraging the Defense Logistics Agency Facilities Maintenance, Repair and Operations Program, our projects across a seven-state area are getting the supplies they need much faster. The team effort to utilize DLA as a source of supply procurements is paying off and I congratulate all involved on being recognized at the Pentagon."
Tim Dunn, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Operations Division deputy chief, said the team's main objectives during the pilot program involved making sure the district had legal authorization to procure items using the DLA program, to identify roles and responsibilities, and outline steps for making purchases utilizing the MRO program.
In utilizing the MRO program, the district reduced contracting's labor hours required for procuring simple supply items, and freed up contract specialists to work more complex procurement actions.
"Purchasing simple supply items typically also reduces procurement lead time, resulting in the receipt of supplies, material and equipment significantly faster," Dunn said.
According to Dunn, using the program also allowed the Nashville District to quickly obligate funds on critical supply items late in the fiscal year because funds can quickly be obligated through DLA for pre-priced, high-priority supplies needed to operate and maintain projects while meeting year-end execution requirements.
The MRO program was developed to help customers reduce inventories and associated costs, address reductions in infrastructure and processes, and capitalize on leveraged buying practices. Other benefits are greater control and flexibility in product selection, savings in storage and contacting costs, and on finance charges from credit cards.
Dunn said the Nashville District utilizes the program to purchase critical supply items that cost more than what can be purchased on a credit card but under the $150,000 threshold. The staff in operations coordinates with resource management and contracting, which provide a layer of "checks and balances" when procuring items using DLA and when funds are obligated.
The Army’s Lean Six Sigma Program is managed by the Continuous Process Improvement Program Office within the Office of Business Transformation. It established the annual Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program to recognize organizations, project teams and individuals, empower transformation of the Army’s business process, motivate individuals and organizations to aggressively pursue process improvement, and to share best practices and lessons learned.
"Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing waste and reducing variation within a process," said Reginald Beaulieu, quality and process improvement specialist in the Nashville District Business Integration Office.
Corps of Engineers leadership is excited about the award and the Nashville District’s effort to improve process and save money in the process.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have the Department of the Army recognize the efforts of this Nashville Team - a first-ever LEAP award for USACE," said Kevin Fuqua, deputy deployment director for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Continuous Process and Lean Six Sigma. "This team's results competed well against the perennial powerhouses in the Army LSS world. I foresee many more LEAP awards for USACE in the future, but none sweeter than the first."
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)