Resourcing the master plan: the 130th Engineer Brigade Class IV story.
The yard was only about seven months old when the 30th Engineer Brigade transferred authority to the 130th. During that period, the 30th S-4 section had built a very large and successfully operating Class IV yard. Millions of dollars spent during those seven months enabled four construction battalions to continuously build throughout Iraq, as well as advance unit basic load (UBL) stockage levels for the yard. When the 130th assumed control, its first priority was to continue developing internal and external systems and procedures where its predecessors left off.
Understanding the Process
To run a large Class IV yard, several systems must first be understood. Using the Joint Acquisition Review Board (JARB) and Joint Facilities Utilization Board (JFUB) processes, spend plans, purchase requests, contracting system, and military standard requisitioning and issue procedures (MILSTRIP) keep the yard stocked despite large and continuous outputs. An overview of these systems looks like this:
* JARB: An MNC-I board validates unit funding requirements costing more than $200,000. The 130th had an approved JARB packet that allowed funding requests to be forecasted on the spend plan, specifically to build and maintain a class IV basic load.
* JFUB: An MNC-I board validates and makes an approval recommendation for construction projects costing more than $200,000. Area support groups or major subordinate commands must secure the board's approval prior to securing project funding and commencing work on the project.
* Spend Plan: Units forecast and request all of their nonstock funding needs on a monthly financial report. Large requests (more than $200,000) must be previously validated by the JARB or JFUB.
* Purchase Request: The Department of the Army (DA) Form 3953, Purchase Request and Commitment, moves funding that was already forecasted and approved on the unit spend plan from resource management to the local contracting office.
* Contracting: A contracting officer uses funding committed on a purchase request to purchase supplies or services directly from a commercial source. For Class IV, this source is typically a local Iraqi company. Contracting is currently the major ordering method for ready-mix concrete and aggregate; electrical, plumbing, and hardware items; and any other commercially available products not readily available through MILSTRIP.
* MILSTRIP: This is the standard Army requisition system--separate from the above funding and contracting processes. Units requisition supplies through the Unit Level Logistics System (ULLS) or the forward distribution point (FDP) using a national stock number (NSN). MILSTRIP is the preferred and easiest procurement method. The 130th used this as the primary source for lumber and other types of construction materials.
Although the 130th operated and maintained a Class IV yard in support of brigade construction missions, the S-4 section didn't resource all projects due to limited personnel and resources. Guidelines were established for customer units that requested Class IV. Customers were normally expected to resource their own materials for projects, or at a minimum, obtain corps approval and funding for anything but minor projects. When possible, the 130th sourced the bill of materials (BOM) for projects from on-hand stock rather than delay a project for two or more months while the customer ordered the materials. The customer unit then furnished the 130th with the funded purchase request, and the 130th used the customer unit's funding to reorder and replenish the materials. In short, they sourced standard projects immediately with on-hand materials and replenished the depleted materials with future funding.
Obviously, only materials stocked in the yard could be provided. The customer is expected to source any nonstandard or accountable items for projects. Our S-4 section was not intended to be a substitute for other S-4s or relieve them of the responsibility of resourcing their units' needs.
When one of the 130th subordinate units was assigned a construction project, the constructing unit received a BOM from the design section of the 412th Engineer Command. Our construction unit completed a Class IV request router and submited it with the BOM to the brigade S-3 construction officer. The project was validated and assigned a mission tracking number. The router and BOM were staffed through the brigade S-4 delegate, and from there the BOM went to the Class IV noncommissioned officer in charge to prepare the materials for pickup. Once the materials were picked up, the BOM and request router were filed for material accountability. No materials left the yard without being accounted for.
Improving the Process
Improving routine ordering, which resulted in improved yard maintenance and control, was probably one of the largest contributions the 130th made to the operation of the Class IV yard. The brigade property book officer established a derivative unit identification code (UIC) and Department of Defense activity address code (DODAAC) strictly for Class IV yard use. Our ordering sergeant was able to place MILSTRIP requisitions at the FDP for expendable Class IV materials. The ordering sergeant also coordinated with the headquarters company ULLS-Ground clerk to order construction materials using the Class IX DODAAC. By continuing to research product NSNs and working the supply system, the yard was increasingly self-supportive and less dependent on competitive nonstock funds.
With regard to contracted orders, several hundred line items are available for order through easy-to-use blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) at the local contracting office. The BPAs enabled the S-4 ordering officer to place Class IV orders directly with vendors and simply maintain the declining funds balance. Quantities ordered were derived from a UBL shortage report from a computer database and an analysis of demand history.
One continued challenge is long and often unpredictable lead times in ordering supplies, with delivery of contracted orders arriving anywhere from one week to two months after the order was submitted. The same holds true for MILSTRIP orders--delivery from a matter of days to several months. Another common problem is material variants delivered by Iraqi vendors. Despite item photographs, illustrations, and descriptions in the contract, local vendors all too often provide incompatible, unwanted materials that must be returned. To mitigate this problem as much as possible, the S-4 ordering officer must be very clear and coordinate fully with the contracting officer and the vendor to ensure that the proper items are ordered and delivered. A final challenge to highlight is managing customer expectations. The yard principally exists to source brigade construction projects, while also serving as a reserve stockage for corps "be prepared" missions. As a general rule, the 130th did not source self-help projects on post, which can usually be resourced by the area support group's Directorate of Public Works self-help yard. Or the unit may order materials through the same MILSTRIP or contracting processes that the 130th used to order materials. The 130th resourced an outside unit if there was a legitimate need, if the project was validated and approved by the brigade S-3 construction officer, and if the yard had sufficient materials on hand.
The Class IV yard came a long way since the 130th Engineer Brigade assumed control. It effectively and efficiently developed, managed, and improved the yard to proudly hand off to the next engineer brigade. The 130th Class IV yard truly "made a difference" in Iraq!
Captain Swartzlander is the S-4 in the 130th Engineer Brigade. His past assignments include survey platoon leader for the 320th Engineer Company (Topographic), executive officer for the 502d Engineer Company (MRB), and S-4 for the 565th Engineer Battalion. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy.
By Captain Jeffrey M. Swartzlander
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|Author:||Swartzlander, Jeffrey M.|
|Publication:||Engineer: The Professional Bulletin for Army Engineers|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2006|
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