By RDML Mark K. Rich
Welcome to 2015. Over the course of the last 12 months Naval District Washington continued to perform up to the bottom line on our slide template that is, “setting the standard in Navy installation readiness and common operating support.” I am proud to say that in a great many ways we do in fact set the bar for Commander, Navy Installation Command (CNIC) and I couldn’t ask for a better team of professionals. However, while those words set a high bar for performance, it’s important to have tangible goals to work toward and to help bring our everyday efforts into a sharper focus. One outcome of the tragic events of September 2013 was our primary goals and objectives for 2014. It was laid out for us in the form of a recovery plan for those items identified in the post-tragedy investigations and assessments. I mentioned on several occasions that the implementation of security improvements and the recovery and continuing care of those affected by the tragedy were our primary mission. Although those efforts are not yet complete, our progress is significant and I commend each of you for your contributions toward those goals.
So, now it’s time to bring focus and clarity on where the Naval District Washington needs to go in 2015.
My vision for the path ahead is outlined below in five broad goals.
1. Improved staffing levels (hiring processes)
NDW is significantly under-staffed across the region and across several programs and special interest codes or SICs. A variety of factors over the course of the last several years have contributed to the current staffing shortfall. The region stood up Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and Naval Support Activity Bethesda at the same time as the Navy was implementing caps on numbers of billets. This meant we took on new missions and responsibilities at a time of restricted hiring authority. Just as we were coming to grips with these challenges, the Navy entered one of the most challenging fiscal environments we have seen.First, we had to manage a significant mid-year cut to both Base Operating Support Services (BOS) and FSRM (Facilities Maintenance) accounts and months later, the implementation of sequestration. All of these factors on top of one another led us to a near-inability to hire even replacement staff for a significant period of time. Finally, during the same time period, we saw an unprecedented reduction in HR capacity across the Navy. To us that means that although hiring restrictions have been significantly eased, we simply have not had the capacity to hire and bring people onboard fast enough. We must be innovative and rigorous in our efforts to improve our hiring processes in order to get staffing levels up to where they need to be.
2. Implement formal workforce development program
An invested workforce is a high-performing workforce. I know from results of our recent NDW HQ command climate survey that many people in the region are looking for more professional development opportunities. We are in the early stages of implementing several initiatives that will begin addressing those concerns and I want to underscore my commitment to this program.
3. NDW governance model
Across the CNIC enterprise, regions differ in the degree to which programs and missions are regionalized. Some are highly regionalized while others remain more installation centric. This is understandable since CNIC was only stood up as an enterprise a little more than ten years ago. More than 70 bases all over the world, with many distinctly different major claimants, not to mention joint bases, means that virtually every installation started out with a different operating environment. We have come a long way in the decade since, with significant improvements in standardization of programs, services and processes but much work remains. One of the challenges I see here in NDW is the need, due to budgetary pressures on several programs, to increase the degree to which we are regionalized. This does not and must not change the fundamental facts of our business model - that our programs are executed at the installation level and that our customers’ interfaces are largely at our installations. However, we aren’t resourced to a level that affords our installations to have the in-house capability to perform all of their missions without regional support. So, our challenge is to enhance efficiency of the region’s support to our installations in order that our installations can execute their programs with greater effectiveness. The way in which we are going to accomplish this is with an enhanced NDW governance model. Our N5, N8 and N1 are teaming together now to develop the processes that will enable us to implement the new governance.
4. Institutionalize improved security processes
We learned a great deal about shortcomings and best practices in our security programs in the aftermath of the tragic events of September 16, 2013. We have investigated, assessed, and implemented corrective actions and improvements to our region and installation security programs and improved our relationships with security partner organizations outside of our fence lines. However, that work is not yet complete, and we must also institutionalize the corrective measures and relationships such that we maintain continuous awareness of our security environment and a continuous improvement process.
5. Continuous improvement in Environmental and Energy programs
We saw significant improvements in our energy efficiency during 2014 and have undertaken many new energy initiatives. We have the enterprise model for the future Shore Operations Center right here at NDW. The SHOC has and is developing capabilities that will allow us to drive greater efficiencies in every aspect of shore operations, from security to facility maintenance. We have more installations eligible for energy and environmental recognition programs and competing at higher levels than ever before. This is just the start, and our task as CNIC’s leaders in energy and environmental performance is to carry that forward across the CNIC enterprise. We have both significant challenges and great opportunities to achieve this goal. Our installations have unique challenges from the perspective of expanding our culture of energy conservation. We have significant limitations to what we can do in much of our infrastructure. But, we are still early in our learning curve of energy initiatives - we still have low hanging fruit from the energy conservation perspective and similar opportunity for development of alternative energy projects.
The vision I have outlined above now requires that we take it to the next level. Our next step is to establish defined, measurable objectives so that we can evaluate our progress and adjust course as necessary over the year. Much more to follow and I look forward to working with all of you on these important initiatives.