Naval Supply Turns Up Heat on Critical Weapon System Orders

By Matthew Jones OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, NAVSUP WEAPON SYSTEMS SUPPORT

As the sun set on summer, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support (WSS) turned up the heat on its efforts to reduce high-priority backorders to bolster the readiness of the U.S. Navy.

Using readiness-focused standups (RFS), experts honed in on specific types of problems that have resulted in high levels of backordered mission-critical parts. RFSs bring all stakeholders together to brainstorm and solve specific problems using the expertise of each party to find comprehensive solutions. Maritime and aviation teams at NAVSUP WSS have both performed RFSs.

Quartermaster 2nd Class Rodney Starkes, right, and civilian mariner Jaquan Elliott, shift colors as the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T AH 20) departs Naval Station Norfolk for New York City in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts. –photo by MC2 Sara Eshleman

“We have been doing RFS much longer in aviation than in maritime, and it’s working really well, so we’re looking to transfer those lessons learned to other readiness goals,” said Melissa Olson, NAVSUP’s reform management lead.

The teams identified key focus areas and initiated three lines of effort as a part of their RFSs, according to Olson. These efforts included reducing casualty reports (CASREPs), identifying past due vendors, and reallocating retail stock.

The maritime integrated weapon systems teams (IWST) directed their initial efforts toward reducing ghost CASREPs, which are orders for mission-critical parts that no longer require action but linger in the queue.

“Ghost CASREPs are those we believe have been filled, but the software failed to capture them,” said Olson. “Because the teams are now co-located, they can quickly identify the reason for the error and correct it right away.”

Teams can often clear these reports on the spot, resulting in a smaller and more accurate backlog. The actual impact on customers, however, is small, because NAVSUP WSS has already completed the actual fulfillment.

“When the Sailor in the fleet has the part in their hand and did an acknowledgment, why didn’t the [Navy] Enterprise Resource Planning system record that?” Olson asked. “So now let’s find the root cause and fix it, so in the future it comes in cleanly every single time.”

The second effort for the maritime team was to identify vendors who are past due in their order fulfillment and to contact each one personally to determine what needs to be done to complete the order and get the parts to the customer as soon as possible.

In some cases, the vendor may need a modification on the contract–to the packag – ing requirements, for instance–to get it com – pleted and get the order to the fleet. Now, by executing these follow-ups earlier and more frequently, the team can sustain the process and better ensure timely deliveries.

The third line of effort was the creation of readiness action boards (RAB) that are highly focused cross-functional meetings with members from the contracting office and the IWSTs. The purpose of RABs is for the team to hash out what actions are required to complete a CASREP and to determine if the problem requires elevation to NAVSUP WSS’ Executive for Strategic Initiatives Karen Fenstermacher.

“Ms. Fenstermacher is already talking to these businesses, so she’s in the best position to work through these issues that require detailed attention from both sides to fix,” Olson said. Recent RFS achievements to date included reduction in suspended maritime stock, or parts that are in ready-to-use condi – tion but, for example, were incorrectly pack – aged or are missing testing certifications. NAVSUP WSS’ engineering and comptroller departments typically collaborate to work out problems with this frustrated stock.

“If a high-priority order is on hold and we have the part in this status, we can fulfill the order much more quickly with frustrated stock than by going to the vendor for another part,” Olson said. “We’ll print a new tag or have the vendor send new labels overnight, and get it out as soon as possible. Essentially, we are looking for the fastest way to the fin – ish line with this group of items, because this has a direct impact not only to our numbers but to fleet readiness, which is always our primary focus.”

While NAVSUP WSS originally held the RFSs as a one-time effort, the goal is to hold them in regular cadence as part of the over – hauled operational model. Teams are collabo – rating more than ever to sustain the progress they have made and to continue learning from the solutions they found along the way.