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    DeVincentis set to retire after 37 years with DLA, planning DLA Foundation

    DeVincentis set to retire after 37 years with DLA, planning DLA Foundation

    Photo By Teodora Mocanu | Mae DeVincentis addresses DLA Logistics Operations employees during a town hall...... read more read more



    Story by Beth Reece  

    Defense Logistics Agency   

    FORT BELVOIR, Va. - A long, lucrative career wasn’t on Mae DeVincentis’ mind the day she stepped inside a military clothing factory where sewing and cutting machines hummed so loudly that passersby often mistook it for a power plant. It was spring 1975 and DeVincentis’ first day as a GS-2 clerk for what was then called the Defense Personnel Support Center Clothing Factory in her hometown of Philadelphia.

    “My job was typing shipping labels and other documents. It was all done by hand on mimeograph paper, so if you made a mistake you had to take the paper out of the typewriter and scrape the ink off with a knife,” she said. “It was really mind-numbing work, but I believed it was just a temporary arrangement until my husband found work and we got back on our feet financially.”

    Nearly 40 years later, DeVincentis’ life is so entwined with the history of the Defense Logistics Agency that DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Mark Harnitchek called her a “pillar of DoD logistics” in January when he announced her impending retirement to the workforce.

    The first electronic order, the first pharmaceutical prime vendor, the first enterprisewide business system, the first civilian vice director – DeVincentis not only witnessed them, she helped make them happen. During a retirement celebration March 2 in the McNamara Headquarters Complex Auditorium, DLA employees will look back on DeVincentis’ contributions to military logistics.

    “Mae knows more about this agency than anyone, has done virtually every job from clerk to vice director, and has forged strong relationships with all of our stakeholders,” said Kitty Eisler, a strategic analyst for DLA Information Operations, which DeVincentis led from 2001 until early 2010.

    As a young mother who’d quit college to have her daughter, DeVincentis expected to resume life as a full-time student within a few short years of joining DLA. But her thoughts on becoming a career woman quickly changed.

    “Soon thereafter I became a single mom, and was suddenly very interested in maximizing my economic potential,” she said. “Working for the federal government gave me the stability I needed to raise my daughter, Danielle, and because I was working in Philadelphia, my Mom was able to be my caregiver during the day while I worked.”

    Her father, Enzo Manfre, had also worked for DLA since the mid-1960s, repairing air conditioning and heating systems in DPSC’s World War I- and II-era structures.

    “He started pretty far down the ladder but moved up the ranks and loved working for DLA,” she said.

    At night, DeVincentis attended classes at Temple University, eventually earning a master’s degree in business administration. Her studies propelled her toward more challenging work, and she gradually moved into contracting, eventually taking a GS-5/7/9 intern position in contract policy.

    “Like my dad, I was moving up and getting promoted with great regularity,” she said. “I was also having fun, so I stayed.”

    DeVincentis’ foray into the world of information technology occurred in the early 1980s, when she joined the team responsible for creating the Defense Integrated Subsistence Management System. Used by the entire Defense Department, DISMS allowed business transactions that once took days and even months to occur in minutes.

    “It was the first large-scale database management system in government, so it was a huge deal,” she said.

    An added bonus: while working on DISMS, she met her current husband Dan DeVincentis, who retired as deputy director for DLA Logistics Operations’ Operations and Sustainment Division in February 2010.

    Later, as a buyer working for the medical directorate under DLA Hall of Famer Sally Bird during the 1990s, DeVincentis led the contracting effort to establish the first pharmaceutical prime vendor, which she called one of the major highlights of her work in Philadelphia.

    “We began to realize that stock wasn’t moving out of the depots, that we were losing business. Lo and behold, we eventually learned that the Veterans Administration had come up with this innovative approach to buying commercial items called prime vendor, and they had marketed it to all of our customers,” she said.

    She and coworkers found copies of the VA’s solicitations and figured out their business model. Within a couple of months, DLA’s first solicitation for its own enhanced version of a pharmaceutical prime vendor hit the streets.

    “In the meantime, Sally and I were on the road. We went to every medical facility to talk with leadership about what we were going to do and how it was going to work. Then finally, we awarded a pharmaceutical contract and eventually got all of our customers back,” she said. “It was a significant emotional event for those of us working in the medical directorate back then to be on the brink of losing all our business.”

    DeVincentis’ dream of getting ahead was coming to fruition. Her goals changed.

    “My challenge started to become more about keeping DLA relevant and ensuring we were at the forefront of innovation,” she said. “I wanted to make sure we didn’t rest on our laurels and allow ourselves to get lulled into a false sense of security.”

    In 1998, DeVincentis was invited to DLA Headquarters on a temporary assignment as the executive director of IT for the Defense Logistics Support Command, then a major DLA subordinate command. During that time, she discovered a significant amount of down time for DLA’s legacy business system, the Standard Automated Material Management System. But when she called field activities to see how their daily operations were impacted by the disruption, she was alarmed to learn it barely fazed them.

    “All the field activities had built their own systems to circumvent SAMMS, and when it would finally come back up again, they would just dump all the transactions at once,” she said. “It highlighted the fact that there wasn’t a single system that everyone relied on.”

    It was also obvious that there were no data or process standards, she added. Then came concerns surrounding the Y2K bug, which threatened to shut down computers dependent on a two-digit format to represent years, and assessments of DLA’s IT systems were grim.

    “We were told our systems were in such poor shape that we might not even see them rise again the morning after,” she said.

    For DeVincentis, the mission was clear: build a common IT architecture that merged multiple business functions and information stores and enabled the workforce to provide better, faster support. This mission was eventually called Business Systems Modernization, and DeVincentis led it.

    “To me, this was all about getting more done and getting it done faster, with fewer errors, and freeing people up to think,” she said. “It wasn’t so much a love of bits and bytes; it was an attraction to what the business outcome could be.”

    The outcome, now known as DLA’s Enterprise Business System, was what many regard as DoD’s most successful enterprise resource planning system. It combines all of the agency’s planning, order fulfillment and financial functions, interfaces closely with DLA’s Distribution Standard System, and is expanding to include procurement.

    During the early stages of BSM development, DeVincentis’ temporary assignment as executive director of DLSC turned into her first permanent Senior Executive Service role, and she eventually became the first agency program executive officer and deputy director of DLA Information Operations.

    She then served as DLA’s chief information officer and director of DLA Information Operation from April 2001 until January 2010, when she was named director of DLA Logistics Operations. There, she oversaw supply operations in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, as well as the agency’s extensive relief efforts following the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti.

    In August 2010, former DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson asked DeVincentis to step into the agency’s number-two position as DLA vice director.

    “I thought he’d lost his mind. There’d been some discussion of civilianizing the position, but it wasn’t clear that would happen. When he mentioned it to me, I had a long conversation with him about all the reasons it could fail,” she said. “But we came to the conclusion that it could also be a huge benefit.”

    Thompson specifically wanted DeVincentis’ help dealing with increased personnel turnover and expanded overseas operations and supporting the defense secretary’s efficiencies initiatives. She saw it as an opportunity to help take DLA to the next level, even if it meant postponing her retirement plans.

    “I just saw this enormous opportunity, again, to do good,” she said. “I always envisioned retiring out of DLA Information Operations, but I’ve enjoyed the job of vice director since the day I took it.”

    Many who’ve worked with DeVincentis over the years are sad to see her retire.

    “She has not just been my boss, but my friend, confidant, mentor and even my young sister,” said DLA Information Operations Director Ted Case, who will assume the role of vice director upon DeVincentis’ departure. “The principles and values she set have been bedrocks for me to work from.”

    “You can’t help but learn from her. She’s the best there is, and she’s willing to share everything she knows,” Eisler added.

    Rather than savor such praise, DeVincentis usually defers it to the DLA workforce.

    “I’ve often said that if you put DLA up against any team in commercial industry, we’ll beat them,” she said. “We really do attract a workforce that’s second to none. Every one of DLA’s employees should be proud of what they do.”

    Even after she’s off DLA’s rolls, DeVincentis plans to continue “doing good” for the agency by establishing the DLA Foundation. Geared toward current and former DLA employees, the nonprofit foundation will give members a way of supporting such things as scholarships and help people stay in touch. Details will unfold as summer approaches, DeVincentis said, after she and Dan have taken a long-awaited break in the Bahamas and Paris.

    In lieu of personal gifts, plaques or other mementos honoring her retirement, DeVincentis requests that donations be made to the future DLA Foundation. For details, call Navy Capt. Mark Werner at 703-767-1549 or e-mail mark.werner@dla.mil.



    Date Taken: 02.29.2012
    Date Posted: 03.01.2012 17:37
    Story ID: 84582
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

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