Asset Management Practice On Board the Navy Aircraft Carriers
2014 marks the 10 year anniversary for the Department of Defense’s Item Unique Identification (IUID) policy. It has been a visionary undertaking by the DoD in its effort to standardize the collection of government property data, and eventually leverage “Big Data” to better manage government property.
However, despite the success in policy making, the implementation of the IUID policy has its own share of challenges, both within the DoD and in the larger contractor community. That’s why this story of asset management practice on board the Navy aircraft carriers became relevant.
I recently had the pleasure to have breakfast with Gregory Redick, a former Air Force Lt. Colonel, who was responsible for developing the IUID policy while working for Mike Wynne, the then Under Secretary of Defense Acquisition, Technology & Logistics at the DoD.
“Our vision was to lay the foundation upon which all improvements could be made in the management of tangible things. Starting at uniquely identifying all the stuff in the DoD inventory allows for the use of standardized data to gather analytics and intelligence, to help us be more efficient in future acquisitions, maintenance efforts, as well as logistics and operational planning,” said Greg Redick.
While drafting that policy, Greg worked successfully with major government contractors, industry suppliers, and different departments within the DoD. As a result, the DoD was able to quickly release the policy platform and start down the road of collecting the “Big Data for Government Property”.
As in any technology implementation, the business processes and the skills of the people are important success factors. “Within the DoD, despite the mandate, the level of excellence in practicing asset management varies, ” said Greg Redick.
In 2011, Greg was asked to observe the offload of ordnance from the Navy’s aircraft carrier, USS Harry S. Truman to the USNS Sacagawea. All the moving cargo had been barcoded, barcode scanners were available, yet, during the entire offload process, no barcodes were read. The recording of assets received was done manually where 4110 lines of handwritten information was later compared to the CD the Sacagawea received from the aircraft carrier.
This wasn’t an IUID issue. Despite existing policy designed to leverage the use of “automatic identification technology” (AIT), without adequate and appropriate changes to processes, procedures, training of people, the benefit of technology is very limited and will be slow to realize,” said Greg Redick.
The same challenge also exists outside the DoD. 10 years after the DFARs rule took effect, many DoD contractors are still grasping with the challenge of reporting the data to the IUID registry. It’s not uncommon that Government contractors still use Excel Sheets to record and update data on thousands of government property items. They are still manually updating the UID information on these assets. These manual processes are wasting many labor hours and causing many errors. It shouldn’t be surprising that many contractors have been found deficient by the DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency) in their business process for managing IUID rules.
Despite the long journey for stakeholder adoption, both Greg and I believe that the DoD will eventually be successful in fully implementing the IUID policy, enforcing the asset management standards and realizing the promise of both the technology and policy.
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