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Department Must “Seize this Historic Opportunity to Transform VA”

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Veterans

In remarks at the VFW’s 115th Annual Convention, which took place in St. Louis, Mo., this week, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson said that though “the Department of Veterans Affairs is in the midst of its most serious crisis in more than a generation … [the VA] has before it perhaps its greatest opportunity to enhance care for veterans in its history.” In front of a gathered audience of VFW members, Gibson spoke frankly about how the VA plans to tackle the challenges ahead.

According to the acting secretary, the faults that have been revealed over the past several months—such as extended wait times for care, improper scheduling practices, and a lack of accountability for managers who hid poor performance or punished employees who pointed out wrongdoing—can be sorted into three categories: business process problems, leadership problems, and resource problems.

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DLA Partners with Shipyards on Hazardous Material Management System

  • Written by Amanda Neumann
  • Published in Logistics

A partnership between the Defense Logistics Agency and Naval Sea Systems Command has helped implement a new system for managing hazardous materials and waste compliance reporting at four naval shipyards.

The Hazardous Material Management System replaced the Navy’s legacy hazardous materials and hazardous waste system that was being retired, said Carolyn Liebeck, program manager for chemical management services in DLA Logistics Operations. DLA took responsibility for this mission as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005.

"This was a huge endeavor," she said. "These shipyards are the four largest industrial sites for the Navy; they’re massive bases. So the partnership and teamwork with NAVSEA was essential in making this program a success."

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves DoD Spending Bill

Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) announced today that the committee has approved the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2015 Appropriations Bill unanimously by voice vote. The next step for the measure would be consideration by the full Senate, though the possibility of another government shutdown threatens the bill’s chances of reaching the floor.

The bill provides $489.6 billion in base budget funding, with an additional $59.7 billion included for overseas contingency operations, compared to the $486.8 billion base budget and $85.2 billion in OCO funds enacted for fiscal year 2014. Priorities emphasized in the bill include: supporting our troops, veterans and their families; investing in innovation to maintain our technological edge; restoring readiness and supporting high priority programs; and instituting reforms.

 

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Air Force Reorganization Aims for Major Savings

As part of ongoing cost savings efforts, the Air Force announced reorganizational changes today that are designed to save $1.6 billion over the next five years. The deactivation and realignment of various commands and agencies are part of the Air Force Management Headquarters Review, a comprehensive initiative to reduce overhead costs and redundant activities and improve efficiencies and business processes.

The biggest change is the creation of an Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will be a central organization responsible for policy and oversight of installation and mission support activities. The new center will consolidate support functions that are currently spread across major command staffs, though execution will remain at the local level. The center will report to Air Force Materiel Command.

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International Engagement Key to Future S&T Development

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Technology

A new document released on Monday, “International S&T Engagement Strategy,” outlines a new Department of Defense strategy for a more coordinated approach to international science and technology (S&T) research, development and acquisition. The document outlines the vision, mission, guiding principles, and objectives of the strategy, and briefly discusses how these objectives can be achieved, with a detailed implementation memorandum pending.

Signed by Alan Shaffer, principal deputy of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and Keith Webster, director of internal cooperation for the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the document’s introduction states that this increased cooperation “will deliver improved capability through our own research, development and acquisition programs, and help to build capacity and capability with our international partners.”

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RIMPAC 2014 Off to Strong Start

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Training

The world’s largest multinational maritime exercise is underway in Hawaii, with participants from 22 nations taking part in the unique training opportunity. Hosted every two years by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, this year’s event is the 24th since the training series began, and will run for just over a month. The opening reception took place on June 26, and closing ceremonies will be on August 1.

In that five week time period, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the People’s Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States will employ 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel to take part in training events covering a variety of maritime skills and scenarios, ranging from disaster relief to security operations to war fighting operations.

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New Sleep Disorder Guidelines Issued for mTBI Patients

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Health

New materials released yesterday by officials at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) will provide assistance in the identification and treatment of sleep disturbances impacting patients who have suffered a concussion. Consisting of clinical recommendations, a clinical support tool, a provider training guide, a patient education fact sheet, and a sleep kit containing sleep enhancing materials such as an eye mask and earplugs, the product suite is designed to provide comprehensive guidance for the assessment and treatment of sleep disorders resulting from a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

Creation of the Management of Sleep Disturbances Following Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Product Suite was a collaborative affair, with input from personnel from DVBIC, all five military services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the Joint Trauma Analysis and Prevention of Injury in Combat program, National Intrepid Center of Excellence, U.S. Central Command, and the Readiness Division of the Defense Health Agency, as well as civilian and academic partners.

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Additional U.S. Advisors Arrive in Iraq

After deploying the first U.S. servicemembers to Iraq to provide assistance in countering the terrorist threat in the country on the 24th, an additional four teams consisting of approximately 50 personnel arrived in Baghdad yesterday. Their arrival brings the number of American servicemembers in place to 180, with 90 assessors on the ground and an additional 90 personnel charged with leading the joint operations center that opened in the city yesterday.

The advisory teams are tasked with assessing the security situation in Iraq in response to the rapid spread of the Syrian-based extremist group ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) throughout the northern and western parts of the country. Over the next several weeks, these personnel will disperse throughout Baghdad to “assess the cohesiveness and readiness of Iraqi security forces, higher headquarters in Baghdad, and examine the most effective and efficient way to introduce follow-on advisers,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby in a media briefing on Tuesday.

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GAO Identifies Actions to Improve DLA Inventory Management

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Logistics

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) manages a massive global network, responsible for approximately one-fifth of DoD’s $95 billion in secondary item inventory across nine diverse supply chains, ranging from spare parts to clothing to food items. Managing these millions of items is a complex and critical task, as the success of inventory distribution and network integration has a direct impact on mission readiness. Though DLA has implemented several improvement efforts in their inventory management processes, more action is still needed to most effectively utilize its resources and optimize forecasting accuracy, according to a recent GAO report.

DLA is responsible for synchronizing suppliers and depots across the globe to provide materiel to the military services and multinational partners. In order to provide the best service at the lowest price, collaboration is required across many entities, such as supply and maintenance activities and distribution providers, to enable inventory management throughout the supply chain. With reduced budgets across the Defense Department, it is especially important that the department continue to maximize efficiencies and reduce overhead costs.

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VA’s Latest Data Release Points Toward Progress

  • Written by Laura McNulty
  • Published in Veterans

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson’s first few weeks on the job have been eventful, to say the least. Stepping into the position at the beginning of the month after the resignation of former Secretary Eric K. Shinseki amid a swirl of controversy around the department, Gibson has set in motion many action items since his appointment. In the past several days alone, Gibson announced the formation of a commission of health care experts to select the new head of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA); monthly in-person site inspections of scheduling practices to be conducted by all VA Medical Center and Health Care System directors for all clinics in their jurisdiction; and the advancement of VA’s process to replace its outdated appointment scheduling system, including holding Industry Day meetings with possible technology vendors to discuss the acquisition.

Yesterday, the VA released data updates to provide insight into the progress their efforts have made so far in accelerating veterans’ access to health care. According to Gibson, the VA has now contacted approximately 70,000 veterans nationwide to move them off of waiting lists and into clinics for appointments. Updated facility-level patient access data was also released, showing a 200,000 increase in appointments from May 15 to June 1.

 

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