Friday, August 5, 2011

BRAC Changes Serve as Catalyst for New Work Processes Between ECBC and Sustainment Partners

With the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) move of two key Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) partners from the Center’s Rock Island facility (ECBC-RI) to Warren, Mich., the workflows for various acquisition, contract, procurement and approval processes have changed significantly.
By September 14, 2011, the U.S. Army TACOM Product Support Integration Directorate and the Army Contracting Command (ACC) will have completed their move from the Rock Island Arsenal to the neighboring Midwestern state, creating a more virtual environment for the work between the three organizations. Additionally, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has taken on a much larger role in the acquisition of CBRN equipment, requiring a mutual understanding between the organizations of the interdependent work processes.
“ECBC, TACOM and ACC have had work processes in place for years. With the BRAC move of TACOM and ACC, we’re looking at a culture shift, a new way of doing things,” ECBC-RI Deputy for Commodity Management John Kerch said. “We have to develop a new ‘normal,’ reestablishing process goals and building new relationships.”

Kerch recently briefed the ECBC Engineering Directorate on July 12 in the Edgewood Berger Auditorium, providing a high-level overview of the ECBC-TACOM-ACC Processes initiative. At the briefing, Kerch highlighted some of the initial steps taken by ECBC personnel to create an awareness of new workflows being developed between ECBC and its various sustainment partners.
Several workflow charts presented at the July briefing documented the draft post-BRAC workflows. The purpose of creating the charts was to define “on paper” the new workflows and to establish an understanding across ECBC, ACC and TACOM, the three Army Materiel Command partners. Kerch noted that the hope is for the charts to serve as catalysts for process discussions, like, “What do we need to change? What do we need to look at? What aren’t we doing right?”
“The idea is to ensure that problems we’ve had in the past can be corrected,” Engineering Associate Director Bill Klein said. “Ultimately, we’d like to upload these charts to the Center’s share drive and have them labeled as a tool kit for people to use.”
ECBC’s divisions and branches that work directly with sustainment commodities can expect to feel the more immediate effects of these new work processes. The July briefing was a starting point for the ECBC-TACOM-ACC Processes initiative and provided a chance for members of Engineering to give feedback at a high-level; however, in order to introduce the new processes to the larger ECBC workforce, Kerch and his team will be coordinating additional briefings.
“We have to start somewhere,” Deputy for Sustainment Management and ECBC-RI Engineering Manager Kevin Lee said. “We are working to communicate these new processes to the workforce and intend to provide more opportunities for those who could not make the July briefing, a chance to give their feedback.”
One of the core processes outlined in the ECBC-TACOM-ACC Processes initiative is the TACOM-ECBC-ACC Acquisition Issues Commodity Team Integrated Product Teams (IPT). Through this process, the organizations can establish common ground to determine what is being procured, and whether or not it is being done effectively.
“This particular workflow is at the core of anything we do in acquisition,” Kerch said. “Each group does it differently, but we’re trying to achieve an agenda based on issues and create awareness of items.”
The TACOM-ECBC-ACC Procurement process, which is almost exclusively an ECBC function, will also be a critical step towards streamlining many of the other work processes between the organizations, including the Technical Data Plan reviews, Industrial Base assessments, Quality Assurance, and numerous other factors that go into procurement. After the initial Commodity Team IPT, the decisions from that meeting feed into the rest of the process.
“The idea is to have input early in the process and to have a review of our status after we’ve gotten through the first level,” Kerch said. “Our intent is for all solicitations to have a focal point for the engineers to look at. We can track that we’re doing the work and that we’re getting paid properly for it.”
Kerch also added that procurement through DLA is usually a 45-day process, but with the workflows that Engineering has developed, they have been able to streamline the process down to 15 working days.  In coming years, the process will be a much bigger challenge, making it critical that efficient processes are put in place now.
Currently, the new ECBC-TACOM-ACC processes are a “work in progress.” Significant work is still required to complete the effort, including fully defining processes, finalizing metrics, socializing processes and obtaining feedback from all process users. The goal is to have the effort completed by the end of calendar year 2011.
“The idea here is to have us all singing off of the same song sheet,” Kerch said. “We need to populate these new processes to the workforce within the Engineering Directorate and across the Center to minimize confusion.
“Our grand vision is a commitment among the three organizations that these charts are the accepted standard for how we do business. Through these processes, we can see if we are meeting the requirements of our implementation instructions and meeting our goals.”
 “The bottom line is to see how we can shape these processes to work for us, and ultimately, the Warfighter,” Lee said.

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