DEFENSE COMMISSARY AGENCY
Since implementation of DTI in fiscal year 1994, DeCA has issued payments of more than $3 billion using DTI. More than 646,000 invoices totaling $1.5 billion were paid in fiscal years 1994 and 1995 using DTI; as of March 31, 1996, $1.6 billion has been paid for 268,000 FY 1996 invoices. About 70% of payments to DeCA resale vendors will be made via DTI in FY 1996.
Most of the efficiencies have been realized in the reduction of direct bill paying labor, which is performed by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) at two bill paying centers. The combined DFAS payment centers now employ approximately forty percent fewer processors (about 140 persons) than were needed for DeCA payments using the conventional bill paying process.
Prior to DTI implementation, companies were required to submit an invoice to the bill paying center for each commissary shipment; the bill paying center would then match and reconcile the invoice to the commissary's evidence of receipt, and issue payment. The DTI payment method eliminates mailing and handling of the invoice, and reconciliation at the payment centers. Other benefits of DTI include fewer interest payments.
This reengineering effort reduces overhead costs, order ship time and inventory levels held in overseas warehouses. It also increases delivery frequency which in turn improves customer satisfaction by providing fresher product, increased stock availability on the store shelves, and generally enhances overall support provided our military service members and their families serving in overseas areas.
The DIBS-DOORS System was installed in all overseas areas beginning April 4, 1995 and completed August 15, 1995. This system uses a combination of DeCA software and commercial Electronic Data Interchange technology to place orders for overseas stores and central distribution centers directly to suppliers in the United States, thus bypassing DPSC as the middle-man. As a result of this reinvention process, redundant electronic systems, billing payments and management functions were eliminated.
The Inspector General now uses criteria established by functional managers to develop the checklist used in site visits. Site visits are targeted to those locations where trends or indicators (strategic, corporate, operational) are showing the most payoff from a management assistance visit. Instead of just using criteria for determining site visits includes:
- The Director's and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Priority Lists
- Region Director's Priority
- Inspection Currency
- Risk of Installation Closure
- Customer Complaint & Compliment Trends
- Fraud, Waste and Abuse Trends
- Congressional Interest (if present)
- Operational and Financial Indicators
During the visit, the IG team also surveys randomly selected customers, visits the base or installation commander, and conducts a session with the commissary store employees. The IG and management team focus on five categories, represented by the Agency's Strategic Goals (as developed using GPRA outcome-based criteria). In addition, an internal customer satisfaction survey is attached to the report to provide the store officer, Zone Manager and Region Director with an opportunity to provide feedback on the team's service to the store. The five commissary key result categories are analyzed and cross tabulated to determine activity, region and agency-wide service performance and operational effectiveness trends. Results of each assessment are presented to the DeCA HQ, Region and Zone leadership to enhance the decision-making process.
The Inspector General has also streamlined DeCA's Congressional Response process by centralizing the function in the IG Office thereby reducing response time to Congress on Agency issues of concern. The number of Congressional inquiries has dropped from 359 in FY 1993 to 312 in FY 1995, and average response time by the Agency is almost twice as fast (21.8 days compared to 42.4 days).
The DeCA Inspector General has benchmarked their services with those of the Army Air Force Exchange System Inspector General, to look for additional improvements in their operations. The Inspector General not only processes customer complaints and compliments, but also sends personal letters to approximately 10% of customers who submit comment cards to follow-up on the resolution of their complaints. The Inspector General categorizes customer feedback into 26 service categories, and provides, via electronic mail, category analysis to all members of the Agency's Quality Council on a monthly basis. The Quality Council is comprised of the Director, all region directors, and all the headquarters staff element chiefs; in other words, the top people in every area and function of the Agency. This feedback is also provided weekly, monthly and quarterly to DeCA's Director, CEO, all Headquarters Directors and Office Chiefs, the Operations Support Center Director, and Region Directors.
The Inspector General also has been designated by the Director as the "Champion" for Maximizing Customer Satisfaction, the first goal of the Agency's Strategic Plan. In this role, the Inspector General will act on behalf of the Quality Council to look across the Agency to assess, and plan for customer satisfaction and satisfaction improvements. The Inspector General will serve to coordinate the diverse Agency customer service initiatives so that everyone can benefit from the lessons learned at other locations.
The DeCA Inspector General's Office has led numerous improvements mentioned above, with 15% fewer people (two FTEs). The IG consists of 13 people to "cover" an Agency with 312 locations worldwide, and consisting of over 16,000 federal employees, employing, 500 contractor services, and serving 110 million customer visits per year. Associated IG costs for travel have been reduced approximately 25% between fiscal years 1994 and 1995 while maintaining effective response and service levels. While it is difficult to capture all the savings from the "new" Inspector General way of business, it is clear that this group of people have really changed their culture. They now view line managers as their customers, and their own role as "we'll help you". Customer feedback surveys are showing that DeCA-IG has improved its customer service product while reducing associated costs.
Overhead direct cost paid to DPSC and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has been reduced by 49.1 million dollars.
Warehoused stock fund inventory investment has been reduced by 27 million dollars, and is expected to continue its decline as the new system matures.
Achieved major efficiencies in ordering, receiving, bill paying capability, and reduced labor resources in the overseas areas.
Order ship time required to move merchandise from U.S. Suppliers to the overseas stores was reduced by an average of 50 percent.
Stock availability on the shelves improvement to 97-98 percent, decreased order ship time, and increased delivery frequency has ensured fresher product for our patrons, and greatly enhanced customer satisfaction throughout our overseas areas. This achievement is contributing significantly to maintenance of morale and welfare of military members and their families as they serve their country in foreign areas around the world.
Ms. Velma Howard, a cashier at the commissary at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, came to the aid of a patron on March 6, 1996. the patron had inadvertently left her checkbook at home and did not realize it until after her groceries had been rung up and she attempted to pay for them. The patron wrote on a DeCA "Your Action Line" (YAL) mailer card that, "I had started to pay and no checks. I am a total stranger to Velma but she wrote a check for $104. I cannot give enough praise to employee Velma Howard as she came to my rescue." This patron chose to remain anonymous to everyone except Velma and did not sign the YAL card.