MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia — Marine Corps Systems Command’s Combat Support Systems is exploring ways to get Marines the equipment they need faster and at no additional cost.
The command implemented the Equipment Exchange Initiative in 2014. Promoted by the General Services Administration and Defense Logistics Agency, federal agencies are authorized to exchange and sell equipment, and apply the exchange allowance or proceeds to the acquisition of replacement property under the GSA Exchange/Sale Authority. This authority also helps agencies avoid costs associated with storage or holding property for the normal disposal cycle.
“The equipment exchange initiative is like going to the dealership to trade in your old car for a new one,” said Deborah Olson, deputy program manager for CSS. “With the exchange, Marines get modernized equipment delivered to them more quickly. Instead of the two-year acquisition process for purchasing new items, we can field newer items in a fraction of the time.”
Federal regulations allow MCSC to trade non-excess property for new property when the replacement is similar to the item being exchanged and substantially performs the same functions. Additionally, the exchange must be economically advantageous to the Corps. Since implementing the program, MCSC has exchanged equipment ranging from medical and dental supplies, to Combat Engineer Equipment and fuel pumps.
“Since July 2014, MCSC has conducted 11 separate exchanges for more than 2,000 items, resulting in over $20 million in cost avoidance,” said Kathy Embrey, assistant program manager of Logistics for CSS. “Because of the success of the program, new policy guidance was issued at MCSC to mandate the use of equipment exchanges when appropriate.”
Once chosen, equipment best suited for exchange is listed in an open bid to potential vendors. The Command then reviews the proposals to determine the best value to the Corps before formalizing an exchange agreement. While most equipment is eligible for exchange, there are some exceptions. Items like weapons, hand tools, nuclear ordnance, nuclear reactors, clothing and insignia and similar items are not authorized for exchange unless a waiver is granted from GSA.
Throughout the process, MCSC works closely with DLA and Marine Corps Logistics Command to identify equipment for exchange, ensure the property is tracked at every step and close out items from Corps inventory.
“A lot of communication takes place between our organizations to ensure that all property is fully accounted for and distributed as designated,” Embrey said. “It is important that we remain accountable at every step.”
The process also requires close communication with vendors, Olson said.
“Take for example one of the large auction houses that has sold a lot of our equipment,” Olson said. “They will first bid on equipment they want by telling us the value they recommend for the items in a proposal. Simultaneously, we tell the vendor what specific items we need, which they compare with the proposal to determine the quantity we can get.”
Equipment identified for exchange is inventoried and stored in warehouses in Georgia and California. Disbursing inventory centrally near Corps hubs speeds delivery to Marines.
The Equipment Exchange is one of the ways that MCSC provides Marines with the most modern equipment at the best price to the taxpayer, said Embrey.
“We are working toward making exchanges part of our new contracts,” said Olson. “This allows us to continue to meet our acquisition objectives for Marines by leveraging the value of our original investment.”
By Mathuel Browne