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Executive Corner

Message from the PSC Director

Portrait image of PSC Director Allen Sample.

While this winter has brought on some strong storms for the National Capitol Region, we have never stopped delivering with our highest levels of passion to best serve our customer agencies. We continually investigate ways to provide the best service and that includes exploring the latest innovations.

In this edition you will see an example of what we are doing with emerging technologies such as robotic process automation. This technology allows some more routine tasks to be fully automated, which frees up employees and staff time to provide top quality service to our client agencies. We are leveraging the latest technology to meet market demands in our key acquisitions areas and functions — helping customers meet their pressing needs. In addition, it allows staff more time for critical analysis and creative thinking that may improve or lead to the creation of our next products, services, and business solutions.

Also featured in this edition, we are proud to announce that we have achieved a clean audit opinion with no material weaknesses. While we have received clean audits in the past, this fiscal year's clean audit included the distinction "with no material weaknesses," indicating our internal control system is robust and sound. The audit determination further highlights the significant value of our services and the efficiency of our operations.

Along with passion for innovation, proficiency, and accountability, we believe intensely in the power of partnership, another one of PSC's core values. A prime example of this is our strong and longstanding partnership with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The DIA officials recently expressed their deep appreciation and recognized our staff for supporting their mission through PSC's outstanding service of their acquisitions needs.

March 2019 marks the 100-year anniversary or our supply center in Perry Point, which has provided essential medical supply support for all those continuous years of operation. The exceptional staff there has always been dedicated to supporting a wide range of customer agency missions, while adapting and modernizing their operations. Building on a successful tradition of service, our supply support team has a bright future ahead of them. I thank you, as always, for your continued partnership. Please let me or my organization know how we may best serve you and your mission.

Cordially,

Al Sample
Director, Program Support Center

 

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Feature

PSC Launches Robotic Process Automation

Photo of Scott Brna standing at a podium addressing a darkened room of forum attendees with his slides displayed on large screens to his left and right.  The content of the slides is not readable in this photo.

Deputy CFO Scott Brna presents at the Appian Federal Forum. Click to enlarge image.

PSC is harnessing the power of automation with the help of software "robots" in an effort to modernize technology, maximize talent, and transform ways of doing business.

To this end, PSC's Financial Management and Procurement Portfolio team is leveraging a new technology solution called PSC Workflow Automation (PSC-WA) that features a partnership of Appian's business process modeling software tool and Blue Prism's robotic process automation software to automate specific tasks. The purpose is to enable PSC to modernize and automate repetitive tasks that impact all PSC portfolios' workloads. The goal is to also offer this as a service to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other government agencies.

"This will allow PSC to improve efficiencies across the organization, reduce human error, speed up process time, and allow employees to focus on more analytical tasks," said Martin Engel, project manager for the PSC workflow automation initiative. "The PSC-WA will enable PSC to deliver a comprehensive platform for automating labor intensive services in a secure, scalable manner to PSC and its customers. We want to get it to a point where it can help all operations."

The robotic process automation trains the "bot" to do certain tasks or has the business process modeling tool generate them, like in a contract closeout process. The bots can launch a web browser, log in and perform tasks as programmed, do mouse clicks, download and email files, and interact with software. There are controls in place that include the automated work being reviewed by a quality assurance staff person.

Engel said the technology will help PSC employees be more efficient — ultimately for our customers while providing new career opportunities for staff as well. "We awarded $2.6 billion in contracts last year so we're very focused on getting awards out," said Engel. "It's really an opportunity for employees to do more analytical tasks, grow their skills, and shed mundane tasks."

With the new technology, PSC has worked diligently on considerations such as security, policy, privacy, and protecting personally identifiable information (PII). The technology was tested for two processes in acquisition — contract closeout initiation and re-creation for assisted acquisition. It was also successfully tested with the finance team, for travel card reconciliation and operational reconciliation.

"We found out what things would work well using the business process management and full robotic process automation — and both together," said Engel. For example, operational reconciliation using data analytics, typically a two- to three-week process, can be done in a matter of hours. The time for a contract specialist to go through one transaction is usually 45 to 60 minutes. The RPA [robotic process automation] can do it in just a few minutes.

PSC plans to offer the PSC Workflow Automation platform as a service to HHS operating divisions and eventually governmentwide to agencies interested in workflow automation. PSC has been meeting with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Office of Inspector General, and other parts of HHS to provide demonstrations.

Workflow automation is a part of PSC's Work Smarter initiative. PSC Director Al Sample is the Executive Sponsor and Scott Brna, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, is the System Owner. Brna presented the use case at the Appian Federal Forum in Washington, D.C., on PSC's Intelligent Automation journey and lessons learned. "Scott and I looked at a number of ways to improve our efficiencies, and Scott has been a real champion," said Engel.

PSC provides comprehensive start-to-finish support for negotiated contracts, simplified acquisitions, and assisted acquisitions. Our certified acquisition professionals oversee the entire acquisition life cycle, including acquisition planning, soliciting and assessing offers, and negotiating, awarding, administering, and closing government contracts. Learn more about PSC's acquisitions service. For more information about PSC Workflow Automation, contact Martin Engel at martin.engel@psc.hhs.gov.

 

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100 Years at Perry Point – Current Operations

Photo of the sign outside the PSC Supply Center buildings.  The sign contains the HHS logo, and the words, Health & Human Services, Program Support Center, Supply Service Center.

PSC Supply Service Center at Perry Point headquarters. View the photo gallery. Click to enlarge.

March 3, 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the PSC Supply Service Center at Perry Point, the operation that supports federal agencies nationally and globally with medical supply fulfillment. This first part of this article highlights the current operations and support, and the second part highlights the center's history.

For 100 continuous years in operation, time and time again, staff at the Supply Center at Perry Point answer the call for support, from the beginning of their history to today. Their business has grown steadily due to their dedication, and commitment to excellence, providing essential services to meet customers' pressing needs.

"We have a 100-year history here and we're proud to continue the tradition and take it to the next level," said Mark Burchess, Director, Supply Chain Management Services, PSC. "We're excited about what's in store for the future."

Their mission is to implement and provide quality, timely, reliable and cost-effective supply services. The goal is to provide equal service to all customers worldwide, ensuring that healthcare providers have the pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and other materials required to provide quality healthcare. The team has cost and performance benchmarks against competition, clearly defined structure, and robust accountability measures.

The team serves more than 4,500 customers worldwide, including the Department of Defense, State Department, Pacific Basin, Homeland Security, Peace Corps, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their business operations include:

Pharmaceutical and medical supply distributor – with an inventory of approximately 4,000 items, including special items that can be ordered on demand. A registered pharmacist is on staff and can deploy.

Bulk drug repackaging – the center is an FDA-registered bulk drug repackaging facility for federal agencies. They customize each unit of use for repackaging and relabeling, including for a clinical drug trials program; and military unique item repacking and relabeling.

Clinical drug trials – drug distribution center for investigational drug research programs. The service provides a comprehensive program for clinical drug trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. The team provides technical assistance, inventory management, and logistical support to meet the packaging and distribution requirements of the programs.

Specialized kit assemblies – including: Combat Support Hospital, Ground Ambulance, and Unit Deployment Package, 84-bed hospital, medical nuclear, biological and chemical defense material for United States Army Medical Material Agency; State Department Research Medical Unit Kits for Navy Expeditionary Medical Support Command; and Air National Guard Assemblies.

Logistics Support – a resource planning system capable of "cradle to grave" asset tracking from the initial order, to the warehouse workflow, to the transportation of the order has been established by the Perry Point team. They've migrated from local computer hosting to the cloud-based service. A certified transportation officer is on staff. The center is situated on the grounds of Perry Point's Veteran's Administration Hospital, strategically located one mile from I-95, centrally between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, to transport supplies. It is also near Dover Air Force Base (50 miles) and U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground (7 miles) for transporting medical supplies by air. They have two large warehouses for packing and shipping operations, stockpile development, and maintenance.

The PSC team is responsible for an impressive number of special programs including: annual influenza vaccine distribution for various federal agencies, Pacific Basin Supply Support, U.S. Navy Fleet Hospital Program, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Medical Supply Support, U.S. Agency for International Pandemic Response, Federal Emergency Management Agency (GOPACS), State Department – Embassy Emergency Response Kits, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Peramavir Project and Ancillary Supplies.

The team has been the unsung heroes behind the scenes for many emergency response efforts, such as U.S. mainland and territory hurricanes, Island of Chuuk typhoon, deployable rapid assembly shelters for International Response Teams, consulate and embassy support in the Persian Gulf regions, World Trade Center/Pentagon emergency supply support, Bioterrorism Anthrax Antibiotic Supply/Repackaging Response, and Haiti Earthquake National Response. Their supply chain has global impact as they deliver worldwide, and stand prepared to respond quickly day or night.

Learn more about PSC's medical supply fulfillment service and full suite of supply chain management services. Explore how the team can support and boost your business operations.

 

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100 Years at Perry Point - History

Photo of an employee doing lab work at the center.

An employee does lab work at the Perry Point supply service center circa the late 1970s. View the photo gallery for more historic photos. Click to enlarge photo.

The PSC Supply Chain Management Services at Perry Point, Maryland, has a long, rich history, and March 3, 2019 marked the 100th year of their continuous operation. The dedicated staff have been enthusiastically supporting federal missions with essential and outstanding service. Their collective efforts have established a solid and consistent culture of quality and excellence.

The Supply Chain Management Services and the adjacent U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health facilities are located where a gunpowder plant once existed on the east bank of the Susquehanna River south of Perryville, Maryland, and north of the river's entrance into the Chesapeake Bay. After the United States entered World War I, Perry Point was selected for an ammonium nitrate plant because of its location close to transportation facilities.

In February 1918, the U.S. government purchased the 516-acre estate for $150,000 from the heirs of John Stump, who had purchased Perry Point in October of 1800 for a family farm. Initially, the government leased the land to the Atlas Powder Company, which constructed a large facility that included a village of more than 280 buildings for employees with homes, a movie theater, a library, a clubhouse, and a number of shops. After completion of the plant and village, the Armistice was signed, marking the end of the World War I conflict. Subsequently, manufacturing operations were no longer needed.

Perry Point was turned over to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) on March 3, 1919, by an act of Congress to become one of the first storage depots for surplus Army hospital supplies — that is when our history of supply chain management begins. By Executive Order of President Warren Harding, dated April 29, 1922, a number of PHS hospitals were turned over to the newly created Veterans Administration (VA). The VA moved into Perry Point on May 1, 1922. All PHS supply operations were consolidated into several buildings on the grounds of the VA hospital in Perry Point and renamed PHS Supply Station.

A division of property was made, with 80 percent going to the Veterans Bureau and 20 percent remaining with the public health supply depot. The patient population at Perry Point grew substantially after several other hospital facilities closed and transferred patients and staff. In the years following, additional hospital and administrative buildings were constructed throughout the campus to meet the growing needs of their veterans.

When the PHS facility opened, it functioned as a general hospital that provided care for patients with various disabilities. Financing for a more comprehensive supply program was established by Public Law l24, 79th Congress, as approved July 3, 1945. The Act provided for the establishment of a service and supply fund (SSF) to operate and maintain: 

  1. "A supply service for the purchase, storage, handling, issuance, packing and shipping of supplies, materials, and equipment, for which stocks may be maintained to meet, in whole or in part, requirements of the Public Health Services and requisitions of other government offices.
  2. "Other such services as the Surgeon General, with approval of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, determines may be performed more advantageously as centralized services."

The supply and service fund created in 1945 is the same that PSC operates out of today. In 1953, when the PHS became part of the newly formed Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the station was renamed the PHS Medical Supply Depot. It retained this name until 1964 when it was redesignated the PHS Supply Service Center, then Health and Human Services Supply Service Center.

The team continues to update and modernize resources to better support the agencies we serve. To this day, the team goes above and beyond and answers the call — supporting missions of federal agencies around the globe.

 

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DIA Honors PSC for Acquisitions Support

Program Support Center's (PSC) Acquisitions Management Services Chief Don Hadrick and his team were recently recognized with a Commander's Coin by officials from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), for outstanding service and support.

Portrait image of Don Hadrick. Front of the Commander's Coin, showing the seal of the United States Defense Intelligence Agency, showing the earth, and a torch, surrounded by a half ring of stars and a half ring of a wreath. Back of the Commander's Coin, showing a DIA logo surrounded by an American flag, and various nautical, air, and space vehicles, with the text, COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE IN DEFENSE OF THE NATION.

Don Hadrick and the front and back of the coin presented to him.

The coin was presented by Colonel Deborah Cricklin, U.S. Air Force Chief, Joint Reserve Intelligence Program (JRIP), and Chuck France. PSC has a longstanding partnership with the DIA, providing an array of acquisitions services on their behalf.

"We provide mission-critical support to the DIA and JRIP program," said Hadrick. "As they've indicated in the past, if we didn't support them, they wouldn't be able to meet their mission."

The DIA supports JRIP, a DoD program that promotes readiness and requirements for intelligence collection, analysis, production, and dissemination by utilizing Reserve Component Intelligence Elements (RCIEs) to the fullest extent possible. The JRIP enables RCIEs to support DoD intelligence requirements. The JRIP has been able to successfully meet mission objectives in part through their partnership with PSC.

In fiscal year 2018, PSC fulfilled 21 requirements totaling over $31 million. Some of these requirements include infrastructure support equipment, Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) conversions, expansions and upgrades, personnel support, targeting support, HVAC upgrades, and mechanical and structural repairs on major communication sites. Hadrick was their contracting officer, and a lot was done in the third and fourth quarters.

As of fiscal year 2019, there are four active indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract vehicles in use by the JRIP program through PSC, and combined, these vehicles total approximately $80 million. All contracts are supported by PSC contract specialist Fedline Crowell.

JRIP has a network of 26 Joint Reserve Intelligence Centers (JRIC) nationwide. The service hosts include the Army, Marine, Navy, or Air Force. Each facility has unique capabilities, layouts, and supports various agencies such as DIA, NSA, and combatant commands such as the U.S. Central Command. "We have supported the majority of the JRICs, whether it be buying services, products, commodities, or communication gear to ensure they can operate," said Hadrick.

The centers allow Reserve Component intelligence professionals to access classified workstations they need to maintain wartime-ready skills. The JRIC infrastructure enables professionals to train in real-time intelligence operations to the supported commands and warfighters, providing a force multiplier. These centers allow members to get trained and ready without leaving their home base.

The JRIC also train individuals who have been deployed overseas to keep their skills current. "Sometimes we may have a translator," Hadrick said. "The translator may be intercepting information and say taking it from Farsi to English. We have logisticians in there. So we support a lot of different areas. We will go in and put together a SCIF and then after we work with the vendor to build a SCIF, DIA will come in and certify that it is functional for use."

Receiving the Commander Coins is a high honor for Hadrick and the team. PSC's acquisitions team has been working with DIA for over six years doing contracts on their behalf. They are proud to represent PSC and continue to provide mission-critical support to the DIA.

Learn more about PSC's acquisitions management services and explore how the team can support and boost your business operations.

 

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PSC Achieves Clean Audit

Program Support Center (PSC) achieved a clean audit opinion — with no material weaknesses — for fiscal year 2018. PSC performs the bulk of accounting services for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), supporting seven of 12 operating divisions. The auditors, Ernst and Young, reviewed all the transactions throughout the year, then selected and tested a representative sample upon which to base their final opinion.

"This independent audit demonstrates to PSC's customers that they have entrusted the right team to accurately and completely manage and report on their financial operations."

Angela Walter, Director, Financial Reporting Services, PSC

The audit is year-round and requires all hands on deck, but it has all paid off. "It's a big accomplishment when you get a clean opinion in the government," said Angela Walter, Director of PSC Financial Reporting Services.

The Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act of 1990 requires that all cabinet agencies undergo an annual audit. The HHS Inspector General hires an independent auditor to ensure that HHS and PSC are abiding by federal financial management standards set by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Treasury.

This past fiscal year's audit shows the value of PSC's accounting and financial reporting services. "We assure taxpayers that we're accounting for the money appropriately," said Bill McCabe, CFO, PSC. "HHS is the largest federal agency [for financial management], as we get $1 trillion given to us by the taxpayers. What it does — the true value of the audit — is to prove to the taxpayers that their money is being properly accounted for and well expended."

This was the first year PSC received a clean opinion "with no material weaknesses." When something is lacking in the internal control system, it is called a "material weakness." Previously, the auditors have given a clean opinion but indicated an area was materially weak, which PSC has always responded to and improved upon.

PSC's Financial Reporting Services team serves as a liaison to the auditors, working on requests for documentation and follow-up questions. "We answer the questions, we're the middle people," said Walter. "If there is something that could be an issue, we really try to make sure it doesn't become an issue. We do quality assurance on all the documents. We pride ourselves in being very proactive; if there's an issue, we already know about it. So, if the auditors ask, we can say, 'we already know about that, and we're doing XYZ to fix it.'"

Staying on top of everything is not easy in a high-volume environment. "With the amount of transactions that PSC handles daily, or weekly, our clean opinion says a lot." McCabe said. "You're talking about accounting for millions of transactions during that period of time." Then there are also huge dollar amounts involved, like the Administration for Children and Families, one of PSC's largest customers. "It's definitely a source of pride that we're dealing with a trillion dollars and we account and report on it correctly; and we have controls on it," McCabe noted.

HHS publishes the Agency Financial Report annually. The president, Congress, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) get a copy, and it is available online to the public. "The taxpayers can see proof of an independent, third-party objective opinion that we're accounting for their money correctly and efficiently," said McCabe. "It's not us saying it's a clean opinion. It's not even the OIG [HHS Office of Inspector General], it is Ernst and Young's opinion — a professional audit firm." Walter concluded: "This independent audit also demonstrates to PSC's customers that they have entrusted the right team to accurately and completely manage and report on their financial operations."

Learn more about PSC's accounting and financial reporting services and explore how they can improve your agencies business operations.

 

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Your Health

Renew Your Energy with Nutritious Fuel

Banner graphic with the words, Peaches 100% natural. The banner has a stylized peach on a green leafy background.

To inspire federal employees on their path to wellness during National Nutrition Month, Program Support Center's (PSC) health, wellness, and safety portfolio, Federal Occupational Health, created a nutrition page that provides quick-reference information — and encouragement — to make smart food choices every day.

Daily food choices can have a big impact on our energy levels and our long-term health. Of course, eating well — and in moderation — can help you maintain a healthy weight, while boosting your immune system and lowering your risk for a number of diseases.

Here are some tips offered to federal employees by PSC's Federal Occupational Health:

Be Generous

No one likes denying themselves foods we enjoy — and dwelling on what we cannot have tends to make those foods even more tempting. To succeed with healthier food choices, focus on foods that you find both nutritious and tasty and feel free to be a little more generous with them, such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables — The more the merrier! According to choosemyplate.gov, fruits and vegetables should fill half your plate, with a range of colors for variety in flavor and nutrition. Learn more about choices and ways to get more at Fruits and Veggies: More Matters.
  • Whole grain foods — Choose whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals for more fiber and nutrients.
  • Lean sources of protein — Choose beans and nuts, lean meats, seafood, soy, and eggs.
  • Dairy and other calcium-rich foods — Remember milk is not the only option. Dark leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage are natural calcium-rich sources, and many foods are fortified with calcium.
  • Water — Are you really hungry, or just thirsty? We often mistake thirst for hunger, so try keeping a water bottle handy for sipping when you're hungry — instead of reaching for your favorite snack food.

Be Cautious

While shopping, read food labels with an eye out for saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars.

  • Saturated fats and trans fats — Choose baked goods without trans fats (check the nutrition facts label) and use non-hydrogenated fats from vegetable sources when baking for yourself.
  • Sodium — Aim to keep your total sodium below 2,300 milligrams every day. High sodium often crops up in processed foods and restaurant dishes.
  • Sugars — Limit your sugar intake and satisfy any sweet cravings from natural sources, like fruit. One easy and tasty swap is sparkling water with fresh fruit instead of soda or juices. Or, a handful of raisins, if you are looking for something with concentrated sweetness.

Good nutrition is a great step toward a healthier you.

 

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