DOD EMALL’s pivotal role in the Haitian relief effort

According to recent reports from the Defense Logistics Information Service:
DOD EMALL has been instrumental in the Haitian relief effort by providing a purchase venue for much needed relief material.  Many organizations, primarily the US Navy, has utilized the DOD EMALL Disaster Relief Corridor to procure relief items.

While most purchased items were medical in nature, other items included maps, clothing, and aircraft accessories, along with food and water.

To date, more than $2.25 million in disaster relief materials have been purchased through DOD EMALL for Haiti.  During the height of the relief effort, sales averaged $300,000 daily.  DOD EMALL remains at the vanguard of support as DLA’s premier eCommerce logistics support tool . . . ” DLIS-L (Logistics Systems, May 2010)
As the original developer and current operator of the DOD EMALL, Partnet takes great satisfaction in knowing its Government eCommerce solutions are helping the Haitian people in their time of need.  Further, we applaud the Armed Servcies, as well as the Defense Logistics Agency, for leveraging  eCommerce innovations  in support of the DOD’s international, humanitarian mission.

Defense Acquisition Reform: Closer Than You May Think

The Department of Defense recently got an earful from the Defense Acquisition Reform Panel (DARP) over its “outdated” acquisition and contracting policies.  The panel’s criticisms centered largely on ill-suited “cultural issues” preventing the DOD from moving towards more IT-focused procurement methods.  Amber Corrin’s Inside DOD blog from Federal Computer Week gives a nice, high-level overview of this argument.

Recommendations made by the panel included:

Improved process for developing contract requirements
Performance-incentives for DOD’s acquisition workforce
Getting more value from the industrial base.

I can’t imagine the recommendations are anything the DOD hasn’t already realized.  As one of many DOD-contracted IT-providers, Partnet recognizes the changes DOD is implementing towards modernizing their IT-capabilities, particularly around acquisition.  The potential cost savings to taxpayers in finding smarter, faster ways to supply and equip our Warfighters is enormous.  And few know that better than the DOD.

However, the DARP report seems to imply that the DOD is sitting on its hands, meanwhile, letting old-fashioned acquisition protocol dictate the Department’s future.

Again, I’m pretty sure the DOD knows exactly what needs to done, and in many instance, is taking strong initiative to correct so-called “cultural issues”.  Government eCommerce, for instance, is one area where the DOD is making tremendous strides.

Debra Fryar has written a number of excellent posts on this blog illustrating exactly how the DOD is leveraging information technology towards streamlined acquisition and purchasing.  And DOD EMALL (which Partnet proudly built and operates, I might add) is a concrete example of the Department’s success so far.

Not to mention the DOD is also looking to technology for OCONUS souring and contracting solutions–specifically, the potential for web applications to optimize contingency contracts and purchasing from global vendors and local markets.

None of this is to say the DOD should […]

Strategic Sourcing on the DOD EMALL

In 2006, the Office of the Secretary of Defense added Strategic Sourcing to the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy’s (DPAP) list of standing initiatives.  According to DPAP, strategic sourcing is defined as:
. . . a proven best practice [representing] how the DoD will acquire goods and services moving forward. It is the collaborative and structured process of analyzing an organization’s spend and using the information to make business decisions about acquiring commodities and services more effectively and efficiently.”
Though the government continues to struggle with strategic sourcing as a practical matter, there are success stories that can help inform guidelines for a future, government-wide strategic sourcing policy.

Take Government eCommerce, for instance.

In 2004, the US Army established 20 blanket purchase agreements for office supplies on DOD EMALL, and subsequently issued a Service-wide policy that all office supplies were to be purchased online through these established contracts.  By negotiating their own strategic contracts, the Army saved 15% on office supplies, while ensuring that all online purchases were compliant with Ability One, the Buy American Act, and other procurement regulations.  In addition, the DOD EMALL provided Level 3 processing data on all of its office supply purchases.

Over the next two years, the Navy, Air Force, and Department of Homeland Security implemented similar strategic sourcing contracts for online office supply purchases.

The potential for strategic sourcing through online applications, like the DOD EMALL, is virtually limitless.  If the DOD was able to save 15% on the cost of buying office supplies, consider the savings of implementing similar measures for all commodities  throughout the Federal government . . .

Contingency Contracts and the DOD’s Humanitarian Mission

According to the United States Southern Command (US SOUTHCOM), over 6000 US military personnel — alongside six naval vessels and 20 aircraft — are currently deployed to Haiti in support of the humanitarian relief effort to more than three million Haitians affected by the January 12th earthquake.

Increasingly, the US military finds itself in this position.  Because of its unrivaled ability to project and sustain large-scale operations over extended distances, the DOD is often called upon to support humanitarian assistance and recovery operations abroad—like those currently underway in Haiti, and now, Chile.  And increasingly, DOD is confronted with the problem of finding effective and feasible contingency logistics strategies.  In other words, finding fast, effective ways to supply our military personnel with the equipment and resources they need to carry out their missions.

In order to effectively manage its growing humanitarian commitments abroad, the DOD is looking towards IT-based solutions to facilitate its contingency contract process.  In the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review, the DOD states that current supply-chain management processes inadequately address its responsibilities abroad.
“The conventional acquisition process is too long and too cumbersome . . . the Department [of Defense] must improve how it matches [logistical] requirements with mature technologies and maintain disciplined engineering approaches [to] institutionalize rapid acquisitions capabilities.” –Page xiv, 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review (Department of Defense).
Partnet is busy developing new IT-based solutions that will achieve this “rapid acquisition capability” the DOD is rightfully pursuing.  Among these innovations is an automated, contingency contract and planning tool that could be leveraged to enhance and support existing DOD logistical investments.  The goal is to create an integrated system capable of implementing contingency contracts with global vendors—as well as local suppliers—that quickly locates and sources mission-critical supplies […]

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