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DLA chief expects stable staffing as war and sales wind down

Jun. 28, 2012 - 01:35PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

The Defense Logistics Agency is anticipating a steep drop in business as the war in Afghanistan winds down, but it is not planning for any drawdown, according to the agency’s director.

“I don’t have any plans to do a whole lot with the DLA workforce,” Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek told reporters Wednesday, adding that he expects the workforce to remain stable at about 27,000.

After booking a record $46 billion in business last year, DLA could see its sales to the military drop by a quarter or more as U.S. forces leave Afghanistan, said Harnitchek, who became the agency’s director in November.

As part of an efficiency drive, DLA also aims to cut operating and materiel costs by 10 percent, or about $10 billion, by 2018. But because the bulk of the agency’s spending goes toward supply purchases, that area — not operations — represents the biggest potential for savings, he said. Apart from closing a distribution warehouse in Kuwait early next year, the agency has not decided to shutter facilities.

Harnitchek also said he hopes the Defense Department can fix chronic problems plaguing its supply chain management and remove that from the Government Accountability Office’s list of federal programs at high risk of waste fraud and abuse. That area has been on the high-risk roster since 1990; the latest update to the list is due out early next year.

“I would like to get off it,” Harnitchek said. But that will take “breakthrough progress,” he said. Among other measures, the agency is stepping up its use of reverse auctions, in which bidders compete to give the government the lowest price. In fiscal 2012, DLA has conducted 653 such auctions, saving almost $27 million, a spokeswoman said later.

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