Supply Chain Preparedness During COVID-19
Each year, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) contracts, purchases, stores, and distributes $42 billion of consumable, expendable, and reparable items for the DoD. The DLA's nine supply chains are responsible for delivering food, textiles, energy, medical, construction, industrial, personal items, and repair parts to deployed and non-deployed warfighters, U.S. military installations, depots, shipyards, U.S. government agencies, and allied partner nations. This complex and well-oiled global supply chain is responsible for our nation's readiness.
During a crisis, these global supply chains may face procurement and distribution issues as unforeseen demands surge existing items and create the need for items not in the supply chain. And in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was highlighted for DLA Troop Support, Philadelphia's medical supply chain. The $8B medical supply chain saw drastic demand increases in response to COVID-19. During this critical time, CSA's experts innovations helped the DLA navigate red tape, unblock backlog, and restart stoppages to ensure the health and medical items were procured and delivered to those who needed them the most as the world fought COVID-19.
DLA Troop Support, Philadelphia manages five supply chains for food, textiles, construction material, industrial hardware, and medical supplies and equipment. The medical supply chain uses a traditional acquisition model that pre-vets inventory items, maintains minimum supply stock levels, and distributes supplies as necessary. The Berry Amendment and the FAR's fair and reasonable pricing act protects the domestic industrial base by prohibiting the overseas purchase of items and ensuring goods were procured reasonably. Items procured in DLA’s supply chains are made in the United States by a four-year contracted prime vendor.
During this global crisis, regulations restricted the use of agility of the medical supply chain to support the evolving demands of its customers and nation. COVID-19 demands quickly depleted the existing supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical items, medical supply replacements, and subcomponents needed to replenish stock. And, as industry started to market new, innovative medical technologies to fight COVID-19, the DLA could not introduce them into DLA supply chains because they weren’t made in the United States or procured fairly and reasonably. The only way to acquire such items is to obtain a congressional waiver.
Procuring medical items through the medical supply chain was nuanced and time consuming, and the DLA desperately needed a solution to alleviate the impeding and mounting backlog quickly and efficiently. To solve the problem, the DLA looked to the construction and equipment (C&E) supply chain. The C&E supply chain doesn’t use a traditional acquisition model of in-stock inventory and relies on a part-numbered-based model leveraging low-price threshold direct buys and just-in-time inventory management to manage its items, contracts, and vendors.
CSA has deep involvement in the C&E supply chain, from developing its business model to building and maintaining its procurement app. Looking to build an efficient tool that would excel in the face of unforeseen circumstances, such as those presented by COVID-19, CSA C&E experts helped develop BidWiser. BidWiser is a custom tool used to manage the C&E’s unique acquisition model. BidWiser expedites orders while applying price controls (being able to compete for requirements across six vendors) and captures fair and reasonable rationale for selecting vendor offers while still being able to stand up to an audit.
Although created years ago, BidWiser continues to meet the C&E’s unique acquisition needs and it is still managed by CSA experts to this day. BidWiser was exactly the solution the DLA needed to get our nation the medical equipment it required.
Processed items in BidWiser
While others were scrambling to find solutions to meet the demands for processing new orders and unique purchases items, CSA Troop Support leveraged C&E’s BidWiser tool. The DLA identified the C&E supply chain as an ideal business model for processing requirements of never-before purchased items and on off items and as an excellent model for supply chain management. The BidWiser tool, already proven as an effective tool for C&E, allowed DLA Troop Support to expedite orders and emerging requirements in the face of COVID-19 and was the perfect solution in the face of price control and compliancy restrictions. This situation is precisely where BidWiser's simplicity and agility shine. Minimal-to-zero ramp-up time while fully compliant with the regulations that could have slowed down the government's response time.
The DLA Support Troop’s ability to respond in the face of COVID-19 was due to BidWiser’s agility and responsiveness. There was no lag in DLA’s Troop Support response because CSA’s C&E experts had already built a tool that would stand up to the unforeseen requirements forced upon them during COVID-19. The solution had already built years prior. There was no need to waste time running scenarios or potential process updates to prepare for the surge because all the backward had already been done.
Using BidWiser, CSA’s experts worked with DLA Troop Support CSA to offer 24/7 operational support. When everyone was shutdown, CSA was busy processing orders. Our team quickly loaded an initial 1,200 items into BidWiser for processing. At the peak of the crisis, the DLA executive director of operations cited the demand for N95 masks increased by 3,500 percent while the need for nasal testing swabs rose 876 percent. C&E staff and CSA worked around the clock to keep the progress of their orders moving forward, which allowed the DLA to requisition and issue over 6,700 ventilators; an item that was never bulk-ordered prior to the pandemic. As a result, the BidWiser app now includes items once only procured through its medical supply chain: masks, gloves, particle respirators, PPE, decontamination shelters, decontamination kits, infectious disease training, steam cleaners, and electrostatic sprayers.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the BidWiser system has seen more than 1,800 requisitions for $735M to support government agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), of which CSA is responsible for overseeing the ordering and delivery of equipment.
Today, ordering unique items is simple. All that is needed is a part number and CSA’s purchasing experts can get items into the hands of whoever needs them, quickly and with minimal lead time.