The Defense Commissary Agency has been recognized with two Hammer Awards from the National Performance Review (NPR) for its "common sense" approach to getting the job done.
The awards, which recognize the Agency's Directorate of Facilities and the Office of the Inspector General (IG), will be given in a special ceremony at a later date.
The Hammer Award is Vice President Al Gore's special recognition to teams who have achieved excellence in "reinventing" government in support of the President's NPR principles. Those NPR principles are: putting customers first, cutting red tape, empowering employees and getting "back to basics."
DeCA currently operates 308 military grocery stores worldwide with annual sales of over $5.5 billion. It is headquartered at Fort Lee, Virginia.
The awards come at a time when DeCA is preparing to become a Performance Based Organization (PBO) on Oct. 1. As the first Department of Defense agency and likely the first in the federal government to stand up as a PBO, DeCA will adopt some characteristics of private-sector companies, including obtaining special waivers that will allow it to operate more efficiently.
DeCA's IG and Directorate of Facilities have already taken the initiative in changing the old way of doing things, says Steve Randol, DeCA's Chief, Quality Improvement Division. "Sometimes in government people don't try new things because they think the old way is the law," says Randol. "They get caught up in the process - whether it makes sense or not."
The Facilities Directorate has reinvented its process of design and construction of commissary facilities worldwide, saving $7.2 million in fiscal 1995 and $31 million over a five-year period. "Enough to build four stores," says Facilities Director Marvin Beck. In the past, the accepted method of bidding out construction projects was two-fold: first the design and then the building. The number of contracts DeCA manages has also been cut drastically by having the same company design and build the facility.
DeCA developed a proposal process that concentrates on what the "facility must be able to do" instead of telling contractors "you must build it this way." Instead of requiring a certain number and type of lights in a commissary, DeCA requires enough lights for people to comfortably and safely use the building. "The design-build process is not new," says Beck. "What we did is streamline that process to meet the outcome we desired - the best value."
"It's particularly appropriate that the Hammer Awards are being presented at Fort Myer," says Randol. "The original building was constructed in1920 as a stable and converted to a commissary in the 1940s. The present commissary was built under the new design-build methods."
"This Hammer Award is also a reflection of the partnering efforts achieved within the agency as well as our procurement partners: the U.S. Air Force Education and Training Command, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Naval Facilities Command," says Beck. "But the key was Walt Winters and his crew. His shop is the one getting the credit for these innovations - and deservedly so!"
According to Winters, chief of the Design and Construction division, "we are adopting techniques used in the private sector wherever it makes sense." The "new way" of doing things has been used to build 13 commissaries, with another seven under construction and one contract recently awarded. "The program has turned out to be very economical for us," says Winters. Under PBO, Winters can see even more benefits and cost-saving measures. "PBO is really making us think about the possibilities," he says.
The IG's office is being recognized with a Hammer Award for turning its traditional image from that of "black hat and non-compliance" to "we're here to help you." Instead of being satisfied with the traditional approach of store inspections on a rotating basis, the IG office visits commissaries on the basis of factors such as customer complaints, congressional inquiries, hotline calls, and regional director priorities.
IG team visits are targeted to locations where the most benefit can be derived. As a result, DeCA saves money by making fewer site visits - and making its visits count. Customer feedback surveys show that the DeCA-IG has improved its customer service while reducing associated costs.
"The IG's office is the eyes and ears of DeCA," says Col. Michael Sandberg, former DeCA IG. Under his direction, the office has been concentrating more heavily on customer service, responding where a need is indicated, and treating DeCA employees as customers too. During commissary visits, the IG team interviews customers, visits the installation commander, and conducts a session with commissary employees. Treating employees as customers is all part of the "quality" approach to doing business. As a PBO beginning Oct. 1, DeCA will be striving for Progressive Market Excellence through the "SAVER 2000" initiative. Commissaries and DeCA will concentrate even more heavily on providing Service, Access, Value, Efficiency, and Response to patrons, taxpayers and employees.
(Powell is a public affairs officer at the Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va.)
by Bonnie Powell (Sept. 23)
FORT LEE, Va. (Army News Service) -- The worldwide inauguration of SAVER 2000, the program implementing the Defense Commissary Agency as the Defense Department's first performance based organization will be held October 1 at 9:30 a.m., Navy Memorial Foundation, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Frederick F.Y. Pang, assistant secretary of Defense Force Management Policy, will host the ceremony. Others invited to speak during the ceremony are Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller John Hamre, Deputy Director John Koskinen, Office of Management and Budget, and DeCA's yet-to-be-named new director for transition. A highlight of the event will be the Agency's first annual World Class Customer Service Awards. News releases with more details will be issued from this office.
(Powell is a public affairs officer in the Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, Va.)