FOCUS ON FIELDING
With the coming reduction in overseas contingency operations funding, the project manager for Soldier protection and individual equipment (PM SPIE) looked for efficiencies in the methods used to stage, field and conduct new equipment training (NET) for the Rapid Fielding Initiative (RFI). PM SPIE manages the RFI process, procuring, staging and fielding uniforms and equipment for all Soldiers deployed to Iraq
The PM found efficiencies in the areas of staging and delivery, developing new processes that require fewer personnel, less leased storage space and more effective tracking software.
“Every project manager in the Army has to deal with the technical and fiscal challenges of developing new equipment and getting it into the hands of the Soldier,” said COL Robert Mortlock, PM SPIE. “That means we have to watch costs in every step of the process—from testing and development to acquisition, and finally to fielding the equipment with the Soldier.”
The changes made by PM SPIE promise to save more than $68 million through FY14 without lowering fielding standards. PM SPIE’s Logistics Management Directorate began implementing the improvements in FY11 while fielding almost 7 million items of equipment, such as flame-resistant uniforms, body armor, helmets, boots, gloves and protective eyewear. These items fell into two basic categories: organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE) and personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We could see that with the approaching wind-down of activity in theater, theOCO [overseas contingency operations] funding would begin decreasing. My goal was to work with leadership and my team to come up with an affordable process that would not only reduce costs, but meet the Soldier’s fielding and NET needs,” said Preston Turner, director of logistics for PM SPIE. Historically, the Logistics Management Directorate has managed the fielding and NET of the latest OCIE and PPE, supporting about 200,000 deployed and deploying Soldiersa year.
“We believe NET is vital. It makes no sense to invest millions in developingand issuing the world’s best clothing and equipment if you do not train the Soldier in how to get the most out of it,” Turner said.
The drawdown from Iraq already has brought significant reductions in OCO funds. PM SPIE has seen its OCO funding decline from $1.2 billion in FY10 to less than $400 million in FY13, and more reductions will come with the drawdown from Afghanistan.
Looking to the future, PM SPIE leadership realized that its staging and delivery processes needed to be modified
to maximize available funding. “I learned long ago in the Army to keep an eye out for problems on the path forward,” said Turner, a retired Army staff sergeant. Turner focused on achieving both lifecycle cost savings and real reductions in business costs.
Reducing the delivery costs required a new approach, which was developed and validated between October 2011 and May 2012. During this time, Turner and the deputy PM SPIE co-chaired an integrated project team (IPT) with representatives from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, U.S.
Army Forces Command, HQDA G-4, U.S. Army Material Command and U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
Since 2004, the directorate has used contractor support teams consisting of 21 people to conduct the fielding and NET. The PM had six of these 21-person teams fielding equipment to deploying units. Most of the contractors were retired NCOs, each very experienced in the uniforms and equipment that PM SPIE was issuing to Soldiers. As a result, the PM consistently received high marks from units and Soldiers for the way in which the equipment was issued and howthe training was conducted. Each team conducted a mission within two weeks, during which they issued 650,000800,000 separate items to 3,000-5,000 Soldiers. OCO funds currently pay for these activities.
Turner sought methods for reducing RFI delivery costs while maintaining the high quality and efficiency of the existing process. After considering multiple alternatives, the IPT recommended implementing a new process that would make maximum use of existing government assets. The IPT recommended using a team of five TACOM civilian
SAVING ON SPACE
subject-matter experts to oversee the fielding and NET. They would be augmented by a detail of 26 Soldiers, 16 from the unit to man the stations and 10 from the field support battalion to help with setting up and moving the thousands of boxes of uniforms and equipment. In addition, three personnel from the post central issue facility (CIF) would support the event by running forklifts to empty the tractor-trailers.
To ensure that adoption of the new process would go smoothly and gain Soldier acceptance, Turner secured the IPT’s agreement to retain the performance standards of the present fielding system. These include the time required to set up the fielding before the start, the amount of time required to conduct the fielding itself, the number of Soldiers who canbe fielded within a 10-hour period, and the time it takes to close out a fielding event and return remaining inventory to the warehouse. He then led the planning and execution of three pilot fielding events at Fort Campbell, KY, using the new process. In the pilot events, PM SPIE fielded and trained three brigade combat teams (BCTs) from March through May 2012.
These pilot fieldings, using the TACOM/ Soldier fielding teams, demonstrated that the new process could deliver the required OCIE and PPE to Soldiers and meet the same performance standards, described above, as PM SPIE’s contractor teams. The Army deputy chief of staff, G-4 approved the new process in July 2012 for all BCT-size pre-deployment RFI fieldings in the continental UnitedStates (CONUS), U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Army Pacific Command. The projected cost avoidance for the new RFI procedures amounts to $37.6 million through FY14.
The IPT also looked at the costs of warehousing and staging shipments of equipment for fielding events.
To meet the demand for staging operations to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and later Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), PM SPIE leased two commercial warehouses in the Washington, DC, area. As demand decreased, Turner determined that the PM could both reduce costs and increase efficiency by consolidating PM SPIE products into one government-managed facility. The savings would come from lower real estate costs and reduced personnel needed to operate the staging facility.
The IPT considered four possible government locations for the facility. Using Lean Six Sigma tools and a cost-benefit analysis, the IPT determined that a facility in Lansing, MI, was the bestvalue solution. The TACOM Clothing and Heraldry Central Management Office—Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier’s sustainment partner— had previously planned to lease the location. This new facility will store and repair OCIE in the OEF Camouflage Pattern. (OCIE in the Universal Camouflage Pattern will be cleaned and maintained at a different location.) This move will result in $25.2 million in cost avoidance through FY14.
While waiting for the availability of the new CONUS regional facility, Turner consolidated PM SPIE equipment into one of its original two commercial facilities. To expedite the savings to the Army,
PM SPIE vacated one facility six months earlier than originally planned. Including all costs involved in the early closeout, this action saved the Army $5.7 million in lease payments and labor charges.
Turner also made more intensive use of two Web-based software applications the PM had in place. These applications significantly reduced cost and enabled more effective management of OCIE.
E-Order, the first application, is an online ordering system that enables fielding of RFI uniforms and equipment to Soldiers unable to participate in a regular RFI fielding event. Soldiers go to their CIF on post, verify their deployment status and provide their unit name and sizing information through E-Order.
The order goes from the CIF to PM SPIE staging facility. PM SPIE personnel receive, validate and ship the order back to the CIF within 10 days of receipt. This saves the time and money associated with the previous process, in which PEO Soldier personnel traveled back to theunit or to theater to supply Soldiers who had missed the fielding event. E-Order is now at CIFs at every large Army post that deploys Soldiers.
The second Web-based application is the Standard Management Asset Readiness Tool (SMART), which tracks all equipment from contract award, to receipt of equipment from the vendor, to fielding to Soldiers. It improves the PM’s ability to synchronize supply with demand in order to ensure that sufficient equipment is available for fielding events. The SMART system is Army-accredited and includes a module to score and save the results of First Article and Lot Acceptance Tests for all PPE, including helmets, soft body armor and hard body armor.
Through these process changes, PM SPIE is successfully fielding vital lifesaving gear and preserving millions of tax dollars. These efforts also gained recognition from the Army: Turner was named 2012 Army Logistician of the Year.
“The big lesson we learned in this process is that it pays to be proactive when you see changes are coming,” said Mortlock. “We knew changes were coming, so we studied our options, made our decisions and pressed ahead. As a result, the Army is already benefiting from lower costs, and Soldiers are benefiting from the improved fielding processes.”
For more information on PM SPIE’s efforts, contact Doug Graham firstname.lastname@example.org.MR. DAVID SUPER is the deputy PM SPIE at PEO Soldier. Before this assignment, he served as the deputy product manager for mortar systems at PEO Ammunition. Super holds a B.A. in sociology/criminal justice from East Stroudsburg University, an M.B.A. from the Florida Institute of Technology and an M.S. in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He is Level III certified in program management and contracting and is a member of the U.S. Army Acquisition Corps.