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Over 10,000 served: DAU performance-based logistics resources.

Who says you can't get something valuable for nothing? Maybe there's no such thing as a free lunch, but the old axiom doesn't ring true when it comes to professional logistics development. During the past 12 months, more than 10,000 people have taken advantage of free performance-based logistics (PBL) education and training resources available through the Defense Acquisition University. In addition to offering onsite classroom experiences upon which the university's reputation was built, DAU offers a variety of offsite and online learning opportunities. The smorgasbord of learning resources currently includes certification training courses; a continuous learning module; performance support; online knowledge sharing; and research. All these popular learning resources to help transform defense systems support are available to the defense acquisition, technology, and logistics workforce at no charge.

Louis Kratz, assistant deputy under secretary of defense, logistics plans and programs--the Pentagon's leading champion of PBL--says, "DAU has played a critical role in providing our AT & L workforce with the skills and tools necessary to implement PBL." While the majority of university customers are logisticians working for a military service or defense agency, hundreds of DoD professionals in other career fields, personnel from other government agencies, and members of the U.S. defense industry have also benefited from these PBL resources.

PBL Training Courses

Over 4,000 government and industry professionals have graduated from PBL classroom and online certification courses. The LOG 235B course is the "five-course meal" of the PBL resources. This five-day classroom course starts with a review of PBL concepts and DoD policies. During the remainder of the week, students are challenged to plan, implement, and evaluate PBL support strategies for new and legacy systems. The curriculum is designed to allow students to practice PBL key activities for multiple levels, including platform (i.e., aircraft or ground vehicle); sub-system (i.e., engine or avionics); and major assembly (i.e., radio or actuator).

Since LOG 235B was fielded nationwide in March 2004, over 1,400 students have completed the course at one of 15 locations across the country. More than a dozen DAU faculty members from all five DAU regional campuses serve as instructors. Graduates include civilians, military officers, and enlisted members from each of the Services, DoD agencies, and the OSD staff. Employees of other government agencies and over 50 from the defense industry have also completed the course.

Graduate feedback indicates the varied small team exercises based upon DoD systems are popular. The course currently includes cases based upon fielded Air Force, Army, and Navy weapons systems, plus the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Highlights of the course are the DoD and defense industry guest speakers, who bring PBL examples into the classroom. Distinguished Pentagon leaders like Kratz have provided dynamic presentations about the importance of implementing PBL. Military service acquisition and support commands have provided powerful lessons learned from awarding and managing performance-based agreements. U.S. defense industry partners have also been highly supportive of the course. Executives from Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Parker Aerospace, and AAI Corporation have all shared their PBL experiences: other world-class companies like Caterpillar and IBM have also provided classroom speakers. Individuals interested in speaking in one of the 45 to 50 annual LOG 235B offerings are encouraged to contact the course manager at

The "soup and salad" of university PBL resources is the LOG 235A online course. To date, over 3,000 students have completed this self-paced Web-based curriculum. The distance learning course currently includes 17 modules and computer-graded exams covering the following nine topics:

* Performance-Based Logistics

* Reliability, Maintainability, Supportability

* Supply Chain Management

* Configuration Management

* Commercial Military Integration

* System Support Options

* Business Case Analysis

* Continuous Modernization

* Enterprise Integration

The over 50 hours of online content include dozens of interactive review questions. While the course gets good feedback from students, additional improvements to navigation features and updates to content will continue.

Although it's recommended that students complete DAU logistics and acquisition management 100- and 200-level courses before enrolling in PBL courses, there are no mandatory prerequisites to take LOG 235A. Students can register for both the classroom and online PBL courses at <>. Both the LOG 235A and B courses are required for DoD members pursuing Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level II Certification in Life-Cycle Logistics Management. Additional information about both courses and DAWIA certification can be found in the DAU Catalog, at <>.

PBL Continuous Learning Module

For those interested in a PBL "appetizer," the online Continuous Learning Module is available to anyone at any time of day. The three-hour Web-based tutorial provides an introduction to PBL concepts and DoD policy. Since the module was launched in 2002, there have been nearly 1,700 graduates, according to Bob Faulk, director of the DAU Continuous Learning Center. Faulk's records indicate that the PBL module received over 800 hits last year. DoD members who register and complete the module receive three Continuous Learning Points.

PBL Performance Support

Through DAU performance support activities, nearly 3,000 individuals have participated in PBL roadshows and customized workshops provided by DAU faculty at sites around the country. These events may be described as the "sampler plates" of PBL resources, since each contains an assortment of key concepts, policy, and practices. PBL performance support events are tailored to the audience but typically include an introduction to key implementation activities and examples of new and legacy DoD systems.

The half-day PBL roadshows are designed for large DoD audiences and are usually hosted by a military service or DoD agency for its workforce. The events often include presentations from the host organization about its PBL implementation policy and practice. By contrast, PBL workshops are designed for smaller groups of logisticians with appetites for more interactive learning. Each workshop is generally four to eight hours in length and is tailored for the host organization. Workshop sponsors have included professional logistics organizations like the International Society of Logistics (formerly known as SOLE) and the Reliability, Maintainability, Supportability Partnership.


DAU faculty have also provided presentations for consortia of industry, government, and academia including the Aerospace Industry Association, the Lean Aerospace Initiative, and the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. Organizations interested in scheduling a PBL roadshow, a workshop, or consulting should contact the DAU program director at

PBL Online Knowledge Sharing

The self-serve cafeteria of PBL resources is the Logistics Management Community of Practice (LOG CoP)--point your browser to <>. This DAU-sponsored Web site contains hundreds of documents, examples, presentations, links, and tools about DoD logistics management. The site is the premier online resource for logisticians looking for help with defense system acquisition and sustainment tasks. LOG CoP averages over 10,000 page views monthly, according to Jill Garcia, DAU knowledge project officer. As an example of the power of the Web site, Garcia notes that the DoD PBL guide, A Program Manager's Product Support Guide, is viewed hundreds of times each month. This key document can also be downloaded from the DAU publications Web site at <>.


Also being added to the Web site is a user-friendly PBL toolkit that will leverage the 12-step PBL implementation model described in the guide as a framework to organize PBL online resources.

PBL Research

"DAU faculty have invested thousands of hours performing PBL-related performance support and research," says Randy Fowler, DAU director for logistics and sustainment. He highlights two recently published papers and a pair of ongoing applied research projects. An article by DAU professor Dr. Hank DeVries, "Performance-Based Logistics--Barriers and Enablers to Effective Implementation," in the Defense Acquisition Review Journal (Vol. 11, No. 3, Dec. 2004-March 2005) underscores the paradigm shift needed in the way DoD views system life cycles and supportability. A white paper by author Cothran, to be found on the LOG CoP, "The Product Support Integration Function in a Performance Based Logistics Strategy," describes frameworks for system support integration, contracting strategies, and incentives key to implementing PBL.

The OSD staff has enlisted DAU faculty to help research the history, foundation, and implementation of PBL. Dean Newman, DAU professor, is currently documenting the growth of PBL from the mid-1990s to present, to include congressional interest, department policy/guidance, and application in the military services. His research will highlight benefits realized in system reliability and maintainability, and impacts on increasing operational readiness and reducing sustainment costs. A long-term team research project led by Dr. Tony Scafati, DAU professor, is examining the correlation between PBL performance measures, contract incentives, and improvements in weapons system support.

Fowler is enthusiastic about a clearinghouse with the University of Tennessee and initiatives with other academic and corporate universities to broaden development of PBL resources and to "share curriculum development workload via collaboration to collectively benefit DoD and the defense industry workforce."

Supporting DoD PBL Policy

DoD policy is clear that PBL is the preferred approach for supporting weapons systems. DoD 5000 directs that "Program Managers shall develop and implement Performance-Based Logistics strategies." Defense workforce members, including logisticians in government and industry, are hungry for the skills and tools to implement PBL. DAU serves up a smorgasbord of free learning resources of which Kratz has said, "The link between DAU and DoD policy for PBL is the exemplar model for rapidly implementing life cycle business transformation."

The authors welcome comments and questions, which may be addressed to

Brown is professor of lifecycle logistics management at DAU's Fort Belvoir campus. He serves as the course manager for DAU performance-based logistics classroom and online courses. Cothran is DAU program director, performance based logistics. He also provides the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military departments with performance support in training and guidance related to PBL policy and implementation.
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Article Details
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Author:Cothran, Jerry
Publication:Defense AT & L
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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