DLA Encourages Open Communication With Industry Partners During Meeting

May 4, 2023 | Partner News

Effective communication and working together to resolve issues were some of the topics discussed during the Defense Logistics Agency’s Industry Association Meeting at the McNamara Headquarters Complex April 25.

DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic stressed that the agency is dedicated to maintaining its industry relationships and keeping the lines of communication open.

“I hope you always take away how receptive we are to hearing concerns across your organizations, your associations, your members, our suppliers and those organizations that you represent. We want to hear the problem sets and the trends,” Skubic said.

The people and organizations at the meeting play a vital role in the Defense Department’s National Defense Strategy, she said.

DLA’s obligations for fiscal 2023 look to be on par with 2022, said Tim Stark, chief of DLA Industry Engagement and Analysis, while presenting an update on the agency’s demand forecast.

There are many variables, however, so it is important to stay in synch with the services, added Tim Morefield, chief of DLA Logistics Operations’ Planning Division.

For fiscal 2023, the projected total of sales for hardware and troop support ranges from $22.9 billion to $26.4 billion in obligations. The exact figures are difficult to pinpoint due to outside factors including support in Europe, inflation and supply chain challenges, Morefield said.

DLA’s defense industrial base shrank 22%, or by about 3,000 vendors—2,300 being small businesses—from 2016 to 2022, Stark said. Looking at why DLA’s defense industrial base is shrinking is part of the agency’s Strategic Plan, Stark said, adding that DOD lost 43.1% of its small businesses in the same timeframe.

DLA’s efforts to communicate with industry and understand their feedback could be why the agency lost fewer small businesses, added Matthew Beebe, director of DLA Acquisition.

Stark presented the results of the most recent DLA Supplier Survey. The agency’s average rating with suppliers dropped to 3.34 from 3.41 two years ago, with the biggest decreases in the timeliness and timely resolutions categories.

DLA’s highest factor was trustworthiness, with an average rating of 3.89. The agency had an average 3.68 score for suppliers who considered DLA a valued partner.

“We’re happy that trustworthiness remains our strength and that’s our highest score. Trustworthiness is obviously the base of a positive relationship with our vendors,” Stark said.

The third biennial survey asked 31 questions about 19 factors covering four areas: the effectiveness of DLA’s communications, growth and profit potential, the strength of the DLA-supplier relationship, and the effectiveness of DLA processes. Answers had a value of one to five points, ranging from “strongly agree” for five points to “strongly disagree” for one point.

The agency received 2,507 responses from its roughly 6,000 vendors for a 38% response rate from a similar cross section of business types and sizes, contracts and sales amounts as surveys in 2018 and 2020.

In terms of obstacles, 99% of respondents said they experienced impacts from inflation, and 68% said those impacts were severe or significant.

Also, 88% of respondents said they were experiencing supply chain disruptions, with 35% categorizing those disruptions as significant and 7% categorizing them as severe.

“It’s a tough business environment over the last year, with near universal concerns with inflation, labor and supply chain disruptions,” Stark said, adding that DLA is committed to improving its response time.

Problems with responsiveness may not solely fall on DLA, said Andy Mueck, vice president of operations for the National Industries for the Blind.

“I know there’s many times that our agencies aren’t as quick getting back to you when you ask for information, so I can’t point the finger at DLA because … half the time you’re waiting on us. So that’s a group effort there on responsiveness,” Mueck said.

Openly discussing survey scores and improving service isn’t something every agency does, he added.

“Just the fact that we’re in here talking about all these tough areas is a testament to the partnership, and I appreciate it,” he said.

When asked how the industry can help DLA improve, working together can improve things on both sides, Beebe said.

“This is not a one-way street, this is a relationship,” Beebe said. “We need the involvement; we need the insights from associations and other major companies that we work with. We need the constant insight, but we also need you to help share with your companies what it is that we are doing and your assessment of whether or not we’re thinking about it right or not putting effort into it the right way.

“And we’re only going to advance together. We always do great when the nation needs us, and we always rally during those times,” he said.

Representatives from eight industry associations attended the meeting, including the Professional Services Council, National Defense Transportation Association, National Defense Industrial Association and National Industries for the Blind. A full list of associations that attended and the meeting slides are available on the DLA Demand Forecast for Industry website.


Upcoming DLA Industry Engagement Events:

  • DLA Supply Chain Alliance Conference & Exhibition, Richmond VA May 3-4, 2023
  • DLA Energy Supplier Summit, Alexandria VA May 24-25, 2023
  • DLA Distribution Industry Day Virtual, June 14, 2023
  • DLA R&D Collider Day, Virtual September 2023
  • DLA Small Business,  Webinars Ongoing

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By Nancy Benecki, DLA Public Affairs

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