ILSC Career Development Employees learn about major item planning and analysis

By Brooks Benassi and and Kevin LagowskiMay 21, 2024

At the CECOM Integrated Logistics Support Center, Common Technical Training is implemented for Career Development Employees to understand the ins and outs of the many different divisions within the ILSC. This training helps CDEs to understand the impact that each branch can have in supporting the Warfighter and how all the different branches work as a team. During CTT, the Supply Chain Management Directorate, or SCMD, Major Item Planning and Analysis Branch presented an overview of what they do on a daily basis to help support the Warfighter.

They discussed what defines a ‘major item’, establishing characteristics and distinctions of a major item, “color of money”, and the MPA’s role in planning, programming, budgeting, and the execution process, as well as the Budget Estimate Submission. The MPA’s brief was particularly beneficial for me because I work for the Army Major Items Branch of the Organic Industrial Base Division in SCMD. We have recently finished our BES, and it was helpful for me to see how the MPA plays a very significant part in working with the AMIB in planning for the BES.

Mr. Tim Luthman, Programming Analytics & Execution Division Chief, defined a major item as “an end item of importance to the operational readiness of U.S. Army forces, that review and control of its inventory and management forces are required at all levels of management.” Major items are used daily by Soldiers and can be as small as a pair of night vision goggles or as large as an F-16 Fighter Jet.

Major items are also driven by authorizations, not demands, and are “free issued” to authorized units. Mr. Luthman clarified that major item authorizations are established and published on documents like the Modified Table of Organization and Equipment and Table of Distribution and Allowances. Major items also have a corresponding Line Item Number. A LIN groups items by functional capability, expressed by a generic nomenclature. He also emphasized that there can be multiple National Stock Numbers associated with one LIN. All of these are factors in determining where a major item is in its life cycle and who will primarily manage it.

One talking point that was highly emphasized by the MPA was their Life Cycle Phases. The term “color of money” is used in the DoD to refer to an Appropriation Category for a DoD financial account. There are multiple account types within the Life Cycle Phases of the MPA. These accounts range from Procurement, Research and Development, Operations and Maintenance, and others. Each of the categories is a different “color of money”.

The timeline followed by the CECOM ILSC LTSD Major Item Planning and Analysis Branch.
The timeline followed by the CECOM ILSC LTSD Major Item Planning and Analysis Branch. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The MPA frequently deals with the Planning, Programming, Budget, and Execution of programs. In the planning phase, the MPA Branch determines what is needed. They will lay out future needs and innovative methods. The programming phase is where the MPA figures out what they can afford by prioritizing all needs and they decide where to accept risk based on available Total Obligation Authority throughout Future Years Defense Plan. In the budget portion, the MPA details the pricing of resources requested, and the execution phase is based on the actual distribution and outlay of resources.

Lastly, the MPA Branch plays a large role in the BES, which is the two-year DoD components budget submissions to the Office of the Secretary of Defense showing budget requirements for inclusion in the DoD budget during the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution process. This process starts out by the MPA pulling upcoming budget year requirements from the Logistics Modernization Program. The Weapon System Directorates review the previously developed requirements and update according to the latest guidance. MPA then consolidates WSD input and draws a cut line. Unfunded requirements are annotated. Finally, MPA coordinates a BES meeting with teams and ILSC Management.

This presentation from the MPA Branch was an impressive look at their day-to-day operations. I believe that a rotation to the MPA Branch would be an excellence chance for the ILSC workforce to gain even further insight into the multiple responsibilities that they tackle on a regular basis.