Sparing Time
Marsha Thornton is working to establish the Defense Logistics Agency detachment at Redstone Arsenal. As a part of BRAC 2005, spare purchases for the Army will be moved to DLA, which is establishing detachments at major commands to perform “joint acquisitions” across the Department of Defense in support of multiple service requirements for spares.

The changes coming to Redstone Arsenal in relation to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission report go beyond the addition of new facilities, additional employees and more missions.

Those changes also involve administrative shifts designed to continue the Army's goal to become leaner, more efficient and more competitive. One such shift is the move of 68 AMCOM Acquisition Center employees involved with purchasing repairable spare parts for aviation systems and missiles to the Defense Logistics Agency.

"As part of BRAC, it was determined that DLA would start buying repairable parts for all the services," said Marsha Thornton, chief contracting officer for the new DLA detachment at Redstone Arsenal.

"At each major command, we are setting up a detachment. There is a group of employees here already in the AMCOM Acquisition Center buying the spares. Those employees will fall under the DLA detachment."

Because of BRAC 2005, the Army will no longer purchase its own spares beginning in late 2009. Instead, DLA detachment employees will perform "joint acquisitions" across the Department of Defense to support multiple service requirements for spares. To make a smooth transition from the AMCOM Acquisition Center to the DLA detachment at Redstone Arsenal, a "provisional organization" is now in place and will operate under the guidance of the Acquisition Center until the final transition to DLA.

Although the acquisition of repairable spares will continue "seamlessly" in support of Arsenal programs, Thornton said the DLA will put in place its own policies and procedures at its detachments during the next 12 to 15 months. And although DLA will report to the Defense Supply Center in Richmond, Va., the detachment will still be accountable and responsible to program managers and Integrated Materiel Management Center employees at Redstone Arsenal.

"Our customer support to the Soldier remains the same," Thornton said. "We will continue to provide a high level of support. To our customers, this move should be invisible. Our commitment is to provide our program managers with the same service they've been getting.

"When people learn about this change, they ask 'What's going to happen to my program' What's going to happen to my spares' What's going to happen to my readiness level'' The readiness levels are going to remain the same because many of the DLA employees will be doing the exact same job they did in the Acquisition Center. We will still be responsible to (Maj.) Gen. (Jim) Myles for readiness levels."

But DLA will make a difference in the reduction of costs and improvement of efficiencies because the detachments will allow the services to leverage commonality and buying power.

"We are working to develop a tool that will benefit all services," Thornton said. "Under DLA, we will be able to look across all the services and see where we are buying the same types of repairable parts. We will then be able to put those purchases under one contract for all services and manage those purchases through one organization. This will cut lead times and costs."

Since assuming the position of chief contracting officer for the DLA detachment at Redstone Arsenal in November, Thornton has been busy identifying the new organization's employees, establishing the organization's office area in the Sparkman Center's building 5303, getting employees moved into the new work area, and reviewing and reassigning employee workloads.

"Now that we are all together in one area, there are other milestones that need to be met as we become an organization over the next 12 to 15 months," Thornton said. "We need an Information Technology system that will enable us to write contracts for DLA and still interface with the systems in place. And some policies will be different."

Thornton has already been involved in working groups with DLA counterparts both within the Army and in the other services.

"Some detachments are actually ahead of us in organizing," she said. "So, we are brainstorming and learning from each other so that we will all be successful in standing up our detachments. We are already benefiting from each other."

The DLA detachments will work together to look for cost efficiencies and "for efficiencies in the time it takes to award a contract to the time of product delivery," Thornton said.

Thornton has extensive experience as a contracting officer. She has worked in the Acquisition Center since 1984, working on contracts for tactical missiles and the Black Hawk helicopter. She negotiated and wrote the multi-year contract for the new version of Black Hawk, the UH-60M, and has worked with contracts involving missile programs, including the Javelin, Hellfire and Longbow. She has also participated in the LIFT 2 leadership program, served as a mentor in the Arsenal's leadership mentor program, completed courses with the Center for Creative Leadership and worked on a developmental assignment as executive officer to the AMCOM deputy commander.

"I see this new position as a challenge and I knew it would require a lot of leadership skills," Thornton said. "But I have trained to be a leader, and this is a job that needs to be done right. I want to be the one to do the job right. I'm very passionate about the work I do here to support the Soldiers. I'm passionate about how we support the Soldiers from behind the scenes."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16