by Thomas R. Welch
Having served in the Active Army for 23 years and as a civil servant for 14, I thought I understood a little about Army logistics. Now, however, I am only sure of how little I understand. In fact, as time has progressed, the number of things I don't understand has grown in obverse order to the number of things I do understand. I want to share some of them with you.
Work Order Logistics File
Our Standard Army Maintenance System (SAMS) units must send work order logistics file (WOLF) data each month to the Army Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. If a unit does not receive confirmation from LOGSA of data receipt, the SAMS clerk must call LOGSA to confirm. If the SAMS clerk fails to do this, receipt may not be posted to the data base, and the unit may be identified as a nonreporter. With modification, the Executive Management Information System, which is managed for the Army by Innovative Logistics Techniques, Inc., (INNOLOG), could pull WOLF data from SAMS.
I don't understand why we don't take the reporting burden off our soldiers and civilians by pulling WOLF data from SAMS.
Personal Property Reporting Requirements
The Chief Financial Officer Act requires all personal property valued at over $100,000 to be reported. The Army Personal Property Data Call requires all personal property to be reported regardless of dollar value. The Defense Automation Resources Management Program requires all information technology property to be reported.
I don't understand why we cannot pull these data from the property books when required, taking the reporting burden off our soldiers and civilians.
Cost of Processing Requisitions
I recently received an e-mail advising that the Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM) was receiving numerous requisitions for individual items from the same installation on the same day. According to SBCCOM, it costs $152.50 to process each requisition; therefore, if a unit sends in 300 requisitions for 300 items, processing costs are $45,750. If the requisitions were consolidated, the cost would be $152.50. The note indicated that hundreds of these requisitions are being received and released. One SBCCOM item manager estimated that since January 2000, 600 to 1,000 requisitions were filled like this. While we originally thought that there was an attempt to build bogus demands, research later revealed that, in this particular case, the unit ULLS (Unit Level Logistics System) clerk had a separate DA Form 2406, Materiel Condition Status Report, for each item, and he completed a requisition for each one so he could track it for reporting purposes. Chalk it up to human error.
However, while this problem was caused by human error, we are likely to perpetuate this problem deliberately under the Single Stock Fund (SSF). Specifically, under SSF, the requisition order number/document order number (RON/DON) process has been eliminated. Under RON/DON, when a unit requisition hits the Standard Army Retail Supply System (SARSS), and the requested item is on the authorized stockage list, replenishment requisitions go forward with a supply support activity document number. The elimination of RON/DON means that requirements will not be consolidated, and more small-quantity requisitions will be forwarded to the national inventory control point (NICP) for processing. We are going to pay more for these assets in the long run, as NICP's are going to raise the item costs to cover their operating costs. I do not know if SSF is looking at the increased cost passed to the customer when the elimination of RON/DON results in more shipments.
I don't understand why the Army opted to eliminate RON/DON when the final result will be higher item costs.
Report of Survey Costs
In 1987, while assigned at the Army Logistics Integration Agency, I completed a study that showed that the average cost of conducting a report of survey exceeded $1,000 with a survey officer and $300 without a survey officer for an item that could cost far less. When this happened, assigning financial liability did not result in cost avoidance. Some 13 years later, we still are wasting money in this way. It seems to me that, to save money, a dollar threshold should be established below which a commander could write off a loss. Yes, I remember the quarterly loss report and the abuse, but the items that were written off most often were linens.
I don't understand the logic of spending more than the value of an item to determine liability for its loss.
Single Stock Fund
Remember the conversion of class IX (repair parts) from free issue to stock funded depot-level reparables (SFDLR)? Remember that this initiative was supposed to cause the field to repair more, resulting in fewer buys and less spending? Remember the furor when we at retail level did exactly what we were expected to do, and the wholesale stock fund was in real danger of going broke? Remember when we thought of SSF? To save the wholesale stock fund, we are eliminating the retail stock fund. What happens if this conversion backfires like SFDLR? Are we going back to free issue of class IX?
I don't understand.
SARSS can send requisitions to the wholesale level many times a day. Using SARSS ensures compliance with all edit checks. Internet requisitioning affords instantaneous interface with the wholesale supply system. With Internet requisitioning, anyone with a password can order supplies and obligate funds. Using SARSS ensures that demands are captured at the retail level. With Internet requisitioning, demands are captured only in the wholesale central demand data base unless the demand is entered manually into SARSS, which is so labor intensive that it will not be done. The result of demands not being captured at the retail level will be a decreased authorized stockage list. Using SARSS ensures only one bill. Using Internet requisitions will cause double billingfirst, when operation maintenance, Army (OMA), funds are charged against a credit card, and second, when information from the wholesale level creates a transaction in SARSS that passes to the retail level financial system. The resolution of this problem is labor intensive. To me, the possible advantage of decreasing order ship time by 1 day does not justify the manual "workarounds" that Internet requisitioning will cause at the retail supply level. Frankly, I do not see the need for an Internet requisitioning capability, except possibly in remote locations where the current Standard Army Management Information Systems are not available.
I guess I just don't understand.
Revolution in Military Logistics
When I consider SSF, Global Combat Support System-Army, Defense Property Accounting System, Acquiline (paperless contracting), Tank-automotive and Armament Command A-Mart, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) EMall, DLA Industrial Prime Vendor, Prime Vendor Delivery, National Maintenance Manager, legacy systems, Force XX1, and contractors on the battle- field, the term that most often comes to mind is "discovery learning." That is, we develop an end state and then proceed to bend and twist the parameters until we have a product that usually will not work without a plethora of manual "workarounds."
I don't understand how all of these initiatives interface or what the third and forth tiers of consequences are. I doff my hat to anyone who does.
Thomas R. Welch, retired master sergeant, is a logistics management specialist in the Supply, Maintenance, and Systems Division, Office of the Chief of Staff for Logistics, Army Forces Command.