DTCI prepares for roll-out.
A strong emphasis on "lessons learned" from our southeast region pilot program, early collaboration with industry and trade associations, and considerable feedback from site visits have all contributed greatly to our roll-out plan. In addition, the standing Transition Team at DLA's Defense Distribution Center has added a level of assurance that is most welcome. A look at each of these areas will help shed light on the deliberate planning we have conducted to establish our roll-out agenda.
DOD conducted a three-year southeast region prototype effort from 2001 through 2004. DLA was the lead organization, with the Army, Navy, and Air Force also participating. After a competitive selection, Eagle Global Logistics (EGL) was selected to serve as the transportation services provider in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Initially expected to run for only one year, the program was so successful for DLA that it was continued for two additional years. However, there were several issues with meeting Service needs, and all participating Services chose to withdraw from the program after the first year.
The results provided well-documented "lessons learned" for future efforts. Three sets of lessons learned were documented--the DLA program office captured a set from their perspective (with contract support); they later produced an addendum; and the Department of Defense hired the University of Tennessee to document lessons learned from an independent perspective.
Our US Transportation Command (US-TRANSCOM) program office has long placed special emphasis on these items, tracking each one to ensure that appropriate remedies were taken into account with the resulting DTCI solicitation to industry. This emphasis was acknowledged by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in March, 2007, when a Senate Armed Service Committee-directed audit resulted in a favorable report. The GAO reported, "DOD took numerous actions to incorporate lessons learned ... into plans for DTCI ... and DOD has initiated practices needed for organizational transformation."
GAO documented 36 separate lessons learned from the pilot program and the DTCI response to each one. In every case, the program office had developed an actionable response that could be tracked to ensure that mistakes from our earlier experiences would not be repeated and that positive actions would be replicated. A few examples from the GAO audit follow:
DTCI has strived to maximize industry collaboration very early in the program. There were several group sessions, "one-on-one" opportunities, and other formal meetings held among the program office, potential offerors, and a number of trade associations interested in DTCI. We also issued several formal Requests for Information that generated a tremendous response. We held a large pre-solicitation conference in Nashville, TN, prior to finalizing the solicitation and an equally large pre-proposal conference--both of which were attended by more than 120 industry representatives from more than 30 companies and trade associations. The pre-proposal conference was particularly helpful in that it was hosted at both the Barstow (DDBC) and San Joaquin (DDJC) Defense Distribution Centers. Potential offerors that attended saw outsized and hard to move items at DDBC and the extremely large volume generated at DDJC, thus preparing them to submit solid implementation plans in their proposal responses.
Collaboration with industry resulted in very meaningful changes to the solicitation. The best example is the late change we made to the initial roll-out schedule. In the excitement to get the contract off to a fast start, we originally had a 90-day timeline for the winning contractor to standup the first three sites. Although industry reaction to this timeline was positive, a few companies challenged the timeline as being too aggressive. After our research verified the associated risk as being too great, we changed the solicitation to include a 105-day "desired" activation date for the first site and a much less stringent 165-day "required" activation date for the first three sites. From the program office, we could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the prospective offerors.
We took one other significant step to ensure a successful roll-out phase. Soon after the solicitation was issued, we hired two consulting firms to do a total program review with an emphasis on the program roll-out. We asked them to provide a candid assessment of what we had done to date, what we had put into the solicitation, and what we needed to still do to have a successful roll-out. We hired Tompkins Associates, a world-class logistics consultant, and the Jeff Cole Group, Ltd., a world-class change management consultant, to take on the challenge. They worked together, but produced recommendations that were focused on their areas of expertise. To summarize, they confirmed the work we had done to date and made solid recommendations for the coming year. We have followed up on their results, first issued in August 2006, with two additional reviews of their work to ensure that their recommendations remain in focus. Their efforts, and our response to them, have helped lower the risk of implementation.
Feedback from "the Field"
Site visits are admittedly the most enjoyable aspect of our job. We spend time with passionate, professional logisticians and transporters who are not the least bit shy about telling us what we can do better! Although we are still more than a year away from the first Service site activation, we have made more than 15 Service site visits, including seven visits to sites that had poor experiences with the southeast region prototype. This reflects our emphasis on lessons learned from this experience. To provide an example of the importance we place on these visits, within the next three weeks, we have teams going to the DLA Distribution Centers at San Diego and Puget Sound, and the Navy's Fleet Industrial Supply Center at San Diego, as well as Travis, Nellis, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Bases.
Transportation Officers (TOs or ITOs) were perhaps most passionate about some of the IT implications of the roll-out. During the prototype, the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transactions had not yet been fully defined, so when the prototype went live, Service sites were forced to phone and fax in shipment requests. Our response to these inputs has been to ensure completion of the EDI formats (all of which were approved by the Defense Transportation Electronic Business Committee) last fall, and we have included verbiage in the Performance Work Statement that requires complete testing prior to our "go-live" time at the first site.
We've received numerous other tips from our site visits that we have incorporated into a "Frequently Asked Questions" file we keep updated on our web site: http://DTCI.transcom.mil. This helps the roll-out, too, by providing a "voice" to all the concerns we've heard to date--and since most of the questions are repeated from all the TOs, we push this out ahead of our visits to help with the education process.
Finally, DLA has a standing "Transition Planning Team" they employ for various change management efforts across their network of 26 Defense Distribution Centers (DDCs). We have fully teamed with their personnel over the past year. We have had a number of planning sessions, meetings, and conferences. Working as one integrated team, we have built "as-is" and "to-be" process flow charts; developed an extensive Program of Objectives and Milestones; built "battle books" that highlight details and site unique requirements for all of the DDCs; developed communication tools such as posters, tri-fold pamphlets, and voice-over PowerPoint presentations; and we have held more than 12 video teleconferences with the first five DDC sites scheduled for implementation.
DLA first recommended one of the core aspects of our implementation approach. Concerned the pilot program activated all sites simultaneously with no time to correct mistakes, they recommended a slower, phased in approach. The result of that advice is our plan to stand up the first three sites (approximately one per month), then take a full month off to study how the process went and conduct a Program Management Review (PMR) with the DTCI coordinator. This will provide time to ensure we've properly addressed lessons learned from the first three sites. Then we'll stand up the next three DLA sites, to include the largest on the west coast (San Joaquin), before taking yet another month off to review the process again. After this second PMR, we will stand up only one DDC per month until all are activated. Following up further on DLA's advice, we will implement the first Service sites that are co-located with the DLA DDCs approximately four to six months after successful implementation of the "parent" DDC. In this way, there will already be local experience with the DTCI coordinator at the local DDC when the first Service sites come on line.
DTCI has, in a sense, been planning for this roll-out for the past six years. From our first experiences with the southeast region prototype in 2001, lessons learned have been critical to our planning. Recent GAO affirmation of our emphasis on this was rewarding since we feel so strongly about the role lessons learned play in the program. Industry participation also goes back to the earliest days of 2005. Both companies and trade associations responded favorably and helped shape the basic program fundamentals. Our emphasis on industry collaboration continues through today with our focus on following up on the recommendations from the consultants we hired last fall. Site visits have also been instrumental in getting strong feedback from the field for the developments of FAQs and other recommendations. Finally, our partnership with DLA has resulted in the basic "Safe Start" approach, and strong teaming with the existing DDC Transition Team has really jump-started our documentation efforts with numerous products supported by their past experiences.
Finally, we look forward to teaming with the real experts in this endeavor, the winning DTCI Coordinator. We fully understand our industry partner will bring current, commercial experience that will be invaluable to executing the program roll-out. We believe our work to date will set the stage for a strong partnership that will bridge the gap between the DTCI coordinator's commercial experience and our unique military requirements.
No planning effort guarantees success in execution, but our willingness to team with other organizations and our open-minded approach to learning from past mistakes and successes will go far in getting us started in the right direction.
Since article submission, the DTCI contract has been awarded to Menlo Worldwide Government Services, LLC of San Mateo, CA. For information about DTCI, go to http://DTCI.transcom.mil.
By Col. Jim Lovell, Director, DTCI Program Management Office USTRANSCOM
RELATED ARTICLE: DTCI "AT A GLANCE"
* DTCI is a program designed to improve reliability, predictability, and efficiency of DOD materiel moving within the CONUS through use of a long-term partnership with a commercial world-class coordinator of transportation management services. The DTCI coordinator will have visibility of DOD freight movement requirements across CONUS and employ a network of transportation providers to schedule and fulfill those requirements.
* DTCI uses a multi-phased approach, which currently includes 67 DLA and Military Service locations. Phase I consists of 18 DLA CONUS Defense Distribution Centers. Phase II consists of 33 co-located Service shipping sites. Phase III will roll-out DTCI to the remaining 16 Service sites currently included in the first contract. There are provisions for up to 260 total shipping locations, provided that trends witnessed during the first 67 sites are positive.
* The formal DTCI Request for Proposals was issued by USTRANSCOM in June, 2006. Proposals were received in August, 2006, and Final Proposal Revisions were received in July, 2007. The contract award is planned for August, 2007.
* DTCI is executed by USTRANSCOM, in close collaboration with its DLA and Service stakeholders. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force sites are all included in the roll-out. Other participating organizations include SDDC, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Defense Contract Audit Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, and General Services Administration. DUSD(TP) is the lead organization at DOD.
"Lessons Learned from the 3PL Prototype" "DOD actions in planning for DTCI" While the 3PL prototype probably Key Performance Indicators improved customer service by including on-time delivery, reducing transit times and on-time pick-up, and others have achieving more reliable on-time been built into the DTCI delivery, such improvements could performance work statement. In not be validated through metrics. addition, DOD plans to track and Lowering costs was also not a document cost savings achieved stated goal of the 3PL prototype. under DTCI. According to some military services, The DTCI performance work smaller, low-volume sites did not statement requires the receive acceptable levels of contractor to provide an service under the 3PL prototype. acceptable server level to all shipping locations, regardless of volume. During the 3PL prototype, a Web-based reporting and the Web-based reporting tool was used automated capture of data for to generate monthly Contracting reporting is a requirement in Officer Representative reports, the DTCI solicitation. monthly Customer Satisfaction reports, and Service Exception Reports. The use of these tools should be continued.
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|Publication:||Defense Transportation Journal|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2007|
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