YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Defense Logistics Agency director dropped by Yokota on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming launch of a $741 million world-class information-technology system aimed at revamping DLA efficiency standards.

Vice Adm. Keith W. Lippert spoke to a group of Yokota “loggies” during an Officers Club luncheon. He’s on an annual tour of Pacific installations, meeting with DLA personnel and major customers.

“We come out here periodically just to see how they’re doing and how we can improve things,” said Lippert, who became the DLA’s 14th director in July 2001.

Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va., DLA is responsible for providing the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and other federal agencies with a range of supplies and services, including fuel, subsistence, clothing and spare parts for military maintenance. It manages about 5.2 million items and receives 45,000 requests a day for materiel.

With more than 21,000 civilians and 528 military billets — including 82 in the Air Force — the DLA has a presence in 28 countries and every state except Iowa and Vermont.

“It’s big business no matter how you look at it,” Lippert said. “Four years ago, the Air Force was the worst supported of all the services. They have slow-moving aviation materiels and old platforms. But we’ve worked on improving the overall talent of the officers and enlisted members assigned to DLA. We’ve not only improved our support of the Air Force but we’ve worked to get better at everything we do.”

The Navy remains DLA’s top recipient, he added, followed by the Air Force, Army and Marines.

Supporting the war-fighter is the agency’s primary focus, Lippert said. The Army and Air Force hit the agency, which spent $1 billion preparing for Operation Iraqi Freedom, with a record number of requisitions in August.

“We’ve initiated a whole series of changes to improve how we supply the troops, and that’s mostly because of OIF,” Lippert said, adding that troops in Iraq are eating about 350,000 MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) a day.

The agency emphasizes performance-based contracting, Lippert said, which has led to military-wide advances in distribution. The group deals with about 30,000 suppliers worldwide.

“We use prime vendor contracts, which are awarded based on performance,” he added. “The forces of the marketplace are going to keep us competitive.”

Agency transformation is another top priority for DLA officials, who are investing $1 billion in 11 initiatives to refine standards toward sharpening efficiency, he said. They’re anticipating about $3 billion in savings from the effort, which began in August 2002, he said. By 2007, they also hope to pass first-ever financial audit.

Lippert said the blueprint’s centerpiece is a computer upgrade that will replace the business system now in use. Agency officials said they plan to be online with a new system in January, but putting it fully into use will take years.

“One thing we have to work on is being able to communicate better with each other — all the services,” Lippert said. “It’s a major deal. We’re upgrading the way all operations are done. If there is not passion in your belly for this, don’t do it at all, because you’re going to fail.

“This is a major acquisition, and it’ll help us become a world-class supplier for the future.”

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