Leadership

 

Leadership

Toni Dawsey interview

Friday, June 15th, 2007 - 20:00
Phrase: 
Ms. Dawsey is responsible for setting the agency's workforce development strategy; assessing workforce characteristics and future needs; aligning the agency's human resources policies and programs with organizational mission, strategic goals and performance outcomes; and, serving as a member of the Office of Personnel Management-led Chief Human Capital Officers Council.
Radio show date: 
Sat, 06/16/2007
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Human Capital Management...
Human Capital Management
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast Saturday, June 16, 2007

Washington, D.C.

Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

The Business of Government Hour is produced by the IBM Center for The Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.

And now, The Business of Government Hour.

Mr. Morales: Good morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government.

As the National Aeronautics and Space Administration approaches its 50th year, it retains one of the most complex and exciting missions in the federal government.

With the Shuttle Program, the International Space Station, and its cutting-edge research in aeronautics, space science, and earth science, NASA expands our knowledge of the universe and applies these insights to our daily lives.

A few years ago, President George Bush gave NASA a defining challenge for the 21st Century, to expand human presence in space. The success of this ambitious vision rests on NASA's pursuits of an effective workforce strategy.

With us this morning to discuss NASA's critical effort in this regard is Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA.

Good morning, Toni.

Ms. Dawsey: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: And joining us in our conversation is Solly Thomas, associate partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Good morning, Solly.

Mr. Thomas: Good morning, Al, and good morning, Toni.

Ms. Dawsey: Good morning, Solly.

Mr. Morales: Toni, many of our listeners are generally familiar with NASA as an organization, and certainly given its public recognition.

But can you give us an overview of NASA's history and its mission today?

Ms. Dawsey: Congress sent the legislation creating NASA to President Eisenhower less than one year after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. October 1, 1958 was the official start of NASA, and almost immediately, NASA began working on options for human space flight.

Between 1961 and 1975, NASA completed the Mercury; Gemini; the Moon Landing Program, Apollo; Skylab; and Apollo-Soyuz Programs. After the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz test projects for the early and mid-1970s, NASA's human space flights efforts again resumed in 1981 with the Space Shuttle Program that continues today to help build the International Space Station.

NASA also has continued to conduct cutting-edge aeronautics research; launched a number of significant scientific probes that have explored the Moon, the planets, and other areas of our solar system; and sent several spacecraft to investigate Mars.

The Hubble Space Telescope is very popular, and other space science spacecraft have enabled science to make a number of significant astronomical discoveries about our universe. NASA has helped bring about new generations of communications satellites, and NASA's earth science efforts have also literally changed the way we view our home planet.

NASA technology has resulted in numerous spin-offs, also in wide-ranging scientific, technical, and commercial fields.

And then, as you said, in January 2004, President Bush gave us a new vision, and that is to go back to the Moon and then on to Mars and beyond. That vision changed our mission. We are planning to retire the Shuttle in 2010 and launch the new Crew Exploration Vehicle by 2015, and hopefully return to the Moon in 2020.

Our New Crew Exploration Program is referred to as the Constellation Program.

Mr. Morales: Now, Toni, these are very, very broad and complex missions. Could you give us a sense of the scale of the organization? Can you tell us a little bit about how NASA is organized, the overall budget, a sense of the number of full-time employees and contractors, and its geographic footprint?

Ms. Dawsey: Sure. NASA's organization is comprised of NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and 10 principal field centers, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and many smaller facilities located around the country.

In addition, NASA has a wide variety of partnership agreements with academia, the private sector, state and local governments, and other federal agencies, and a number of international organizations.

NASA's appropriation for fiscal year 2007 is $16.2 billion, and we have about 16,400 permanent employees and over 18,000 civil service employees of all types. We also have over 38,000 on or near-site contractors.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, now that you've provided us with a sense of scale of the larger organization, could you tell us more about your specific role? What are your responsibilities and duties as NASA's Chief Human Capital Officer? And could you tell us more about the areas under your purview, such as how the office is organized, as well as the size of the staff?

Ms. Dawsey: Sure. I have responsibility for NASA's civil service workforce. I'm responsible for setting the workforce strategy, assessing workforce characteristics and future needs based on mission and strategic plan; aligning the human resources policies and programs with organizational mission, strategic goals, and performance outcomes; developing and advocating a culture of continuous learning to attract and retain employees with superior abilities; identifying best practices and benchmarking studies; and serving as a member of the Office of Personnel Management-led Chief Human Capital Officer Council.

Mr. Thomas: And regarding your responsibilities and duties as the agency's Chief Human Capital Officer, what are the top three challenges that you face in your position, and how have you addressed these challenges?

Ms. Dawsey: Well, as I've said, we're going to continue Shuttle flights to complete the International Space Station, and then retire the Shuttle by 2010, and in the meantime, prepare to launch a new Crew Exploration Vehicle by 2015. This is going to cause major workforce transitions.

So the top three challenges that we in Human Capital face are developing good workforce planning processes and tools; ensuring workforce skills stay aligned with changing mission requirements; and providing HR systems that ensure timely, reliable, and authoritative data for agency workforce decisions.

Mr. Morales: Toni, you're returning back to government, so I'm curious. Could you describe for our listeners your career path? Many probably don't know that you came back first as Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer and now serve as the Chief Human Capital Officer.

What brought you back to NASA?

Ms. Dawsey: In brief, my career as an HR specialist started at the Federal Trade Commission, back where we started as functional specialists. So I started as a staffing specialist and then moved on to classification.

And I left FTC to join NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center to broaden my experience, and there, I became a personnel management specialist, which not only incorporated the first two functions, but broadened them into employee relations, and I was an HR advisor on all programs to the head of the Engineering Directorate.

From Goddard, I went to the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service and became a team lead and then a supervisor. From there, I moved on to the Department of Transportation's Office of the Secretary to work on the policy and program development side of HR, and later to manage their HR Operations Branch.

I left the Office of the Secretary to become the Personnel Officer for Transportation's Office of Inspector General, and then two years later, I left HR altogether to serve as the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Inspections and Evaluations. And there, I directed headquarters and regional staff in providing independent and objective inspections and evaluations of Transportation's programs and operations.

I retired from that position, and then after nine years of retirement, I rejoined NASA in 2004 to serve as the Director of the agency Human Resources Division, and then in December of '05, I was appointed to my current position.

When I was offered the opportunity to work for NASA, I was honored. NASA had just received an award for being the first human capital office to go Green on the President's Management Agenda, and the agency was working hard to return to flight, and I wanted to be working in this agency that was so progressive, had employees dedicated to a terrific mission, and had many exciting challenges ahead of it.

Mr. Morales: That's a great set of broad experiences. So I'm curious: how have your previous roles prepared you for your current leadership role and shaped your management approach and your leadership style?

Ms. Dawsey: First, as I said, I started out as a specialist in two of the major HR areas -- staffing and classification. And that gave me a very important and thorough grounding in those two functional areas.

I then accepted other positions earlier in my career, with the intent of building a well-rounded HR portfolio, and then later, working to build a leadership portfolio, which gave me both credibility within the HR community and confidence.

Second, I was greatly influenced by the director of the Engineering Directorate at the Goddard Space Flight Center. As I also mentioned earlier, I served as his Personnel Management Specialist and advisor. And very importantly, he included me at his table, along with his management team, and he treated me accordingly.

He told me the same thing he told them: I want to hear how we can get things done, not how we can't, and I want to hear solutions for problems, not just problems. It would require that we think outside the box, and I never got back in that box.

Lastly, just moving across different occupations, working with different leaders, and in different types of agencies was very developmental, and it went a long way in building my knowledge base and my confidence level.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.

What is NASA's human resource strategy? We will ask Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour.

I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA.

Also joining us in our conversation is Solly Thomas, associate partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Mr. Morales: Toni, according to the 2006 Federal Human Capital Survey, NASA ranked in the top three agencies in job satisfaction, leadership, and workplace performance. Why do you think your co-workers think so highly of NASA as a place to work, and what do you think the secret is?

Ms. Dawsey: The secret really isn't a secret. It's our mission.

NASA is filled with employees at all levels who love what they are doing. They're inspired by supervisors and managers who love what they are doing. And they are surrounded by highly educated dedicated co-workers who keep the bar high and make for a challenging, exciting environment.

Mr. Morales: Toni, earlier you mentioned the PMA, so let's delve into that for a moment.

NASA was one of the first agencies to achieve a Green status in human capital management under the PMA. Could you elaborate on the challenges and your efforts to getting to Green, and what's the Department need to do to achieve and sustain a Green status rating?

Ms. Dawsey: NASA got to Green quickly because the human capital organization had tremendous support from the Administrator and his management team. They believed that the human capital agenda was an agency agenda, and we continue to operate that way. And that is not only how we got to Green, but how we have remained Green.

Mr. Morales: So pretty straightforward, then?

Ms. Dawsey: Yes.

Mr. Morales: Let me switch gears a little bit. The NASA Flexibility Act of 2004 gave your agency certain flexibilities for recruitment and retention purposes. Could you talk a little bit about some of the flexibilities you were given, and which of these has had the biggest impact on recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce?

Ms. Dawsey: Well, we were given over a dozen flexibilities that include enhanced recruitment, relocation, and retention bonuses, expanded use of term appointments, pay authority for critical positions, and enhanced travel benefits and annual leave benefits for new hires. And what works best for us really is combining all these different flexibilities into incentive packages tailored to the needs of specific candidates.

And that's been a particularly successful strategy for us.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, earlier, you had talked about the workforce planning efforts at the agency, and I want to talk a little bit more about that, if you don't mind.

NASA's most recent workforce strategy represents a new, more centralized approach to workforce planning. Would you talk about this new approach? What are some of the central components of this new planning process, and how does it better position NASA to meet the demands of its mission?

Ms. Dawsey: NASA has a number of initiatives underway to improve workforce planning, which, as I mentioned earlier, is one of our primary goals in human capital.

We needed to go from a near-term, budget-driven process to a longer-term, scenario-based workforce planning process. And we needed to go from a center-centric planning to an agency, a corporate workforce planning process. So we established an agency workforce planning governance structure. We enhanced workforce data tools to identify people with programs, and to be able to locate expertise across the agency.

We've developed workforce capability measures so that we can identify early gaps and surpluses across the agency. And we've established a Shuttle Human Capital Council just recently that includes not only NASA HR directors, but contractor HR directors so we can work with another as we transition and learn from one another's best practices. And we've integrated -- and this is the most important -- we've integrated this workforce planning process with our budget process.

In addition, we're currently engaging with Mission Directorates and the Centers in scenario planning. We're developing a workforce planner's handbook so that we're all talking a common language across the agency, and most recently, we've started a mapping process. We're developing a process where we can map employees from the Shuttle workforce to Constellation program work.

And with a strong workforce planning capability, the agency will be able to synergize its ability to meet challenges and perform the overall mission. We're integrating workforce planning with the program, budget, and business support functions, and that will allow us to take workforce planning from the near-term that I was talking about to the longer-term process that starts as soon as program requirements are defined and as far out as they can be defined.

Mr. Thomas: And staying on the workforce planning topic, NASA's workforce strategy places very strong emphasis on the development of 10 healthy centers that are fully engaged and productive.

First, within a human capital context, what is a healthy center? And second, what are the seven key attributes that you see of a healthy center?

Ms. Dawsey: Within the human capital context, a healthy center is one that first of all can assess its overall capability of total workforce and has the ability to align that workforce to future work.

The second is to be able to surface workforce misalignments that require agency intervention; that is, solving the problem at the agency level. And the third is to be able to shape the size, composition, and the management of the center workforce over time.

The seven key attributes that we use are: one, core, clear, stable, and enduring roles and responsibilities for a center; two, clear program project management leadership roles; three, major in-house durable spaceflight responsibility; four, skilled and flexible blended workforce with sufficient depth and breadth; five, technically competent and value-centered leadership; six, capable and effectively utilize infrastructure; an seven, strong stakeholder support.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, NASA's new approach seems to reflect planning and integration at many levels of management. What are the specific benefits of this enhanced workforce planning capability, and how do you feel it better enables NASA to address the workforce challenges and issues?

Ms. Dawsey: Well, leaders will be able to identify skill gaps quickly and plan strategically to address surpluses and gaps in a targeted and deliberate way across the agency, and to quickly identify expertise and be able to use it wherever it is needed in the agency.

Mr. Morales: Toni, it's been said that NASA's workforce is not ideally aligned to the programs and projects that are being undertaken to support the vision for space exploration, and it's commonly referred to as uncovered capacity.

Could you elaborate on NASA's efforts to reduce its current uncovered capacity level?

Ms. Dawsey: Sure. Two years ago, we had over 2,000 FTE that we called uncovered, and that translated to far more than 2,000 people. So we went into what we called a transformation mode, and today, there are very few what we call now "available for new work."

To solve the problem, we conducted buy-outs and early-outs. We held job fairs to place employees within and outside NASA. We used our new legislative authorities. We had hiring freezes. We set tight ceiling controls. We moved work across the agency. We reassigned staff, provided career transition assistance, and we started retraining programs.

Mr. Morales: Along those lines, could you elaborate on recent NASA initiatives to close the core competency gaps? Specifically, could you tell us about NASA's competency management system?

Ms. Dawsey: Yes. The competency management system first of all was built in-house by engineers at the Kennedy Space Flight Center, one of whom is still on my staff.

And it's an agency-wide competency inventory in a common language, populated with both an employee's position and individual competencies. And it enables NASA to know first of all what the current competencies are in the workforce, and then, as I mentioned earlier, locate expertise that's required to implement specific tasks.

And it also gives a good demographic snapshot to enable us to do more in-depth workforce data searches. It aids in the competency gap surplus problem, and it assists in assessing center readiness for new activities.

If you use it in conjunction with the workforce planning processes, which we're doing, we can help assess workforce impacts on programs and projects at a greater level of detail. And it also provides, then, information to our Office of Education so we can recruit students in those areas, and we can help employees in determining how best to expand and develop their careers.

Mr. Morales: How is NASA managing its blended workforce?

We will ask Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour.

I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA.

Also joining us in our conversation is Solly Thomas, associate partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Toni, NASA has a fairly heavy reliance on contractors. I believe in earlier segments, you mentioned 38,000. Could you tell us how federal managers can effectively manage an ever-increasing blended workforce composed of contractors and federal workers? And what are some of the key differences intrinsic to these two core groups?

Ms. Dawsey: Just to give you some perspective, less than 15 percent of the agency's authorized funding is expended on civil service salaries and benefits. In fact, one of our most renowned installations, the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, is run entirely through a contract with Cal Tech. We have approximately, as you said, 38,000 contractors working on or in close proximity to our NASA sites.

In managing our blended workforce, we have to make sure always that the government is in the driver's seat. There are, of course, numerous inherently governmental activities carried out in NASA. These are defined by the Office of Management and Budget, and they include the exercise of discretion in applying government authority or the making of value judgments and making decisions for the government. Civil servants make the plans, formulate the budgets, and decide strategy and policy.

In managing the blended workforce, we need to ensure we have a sufficient in-house knowledge base to be a smart buyer of services from industry. And that means we have to have sufficient depth among civil engineers and scientists to specify our requirements, and not only oversee the contractor efforts, but have insight into the technical issues that arise.

In the end, it is NASA personnel who make the go, no-go decisions for our programs. Additionally, it's also critical for us to have strong capabilities in systems engineering and project management, since these skills are critical not only to our mission success, but also to getting the most out our contractor workforce.

Mr. Morales: Toni, I also want to go back to one of the other topics from our previous segment, and that's around recruitment. Could you tell us what changes are you making to the recruitment process at NASA? Does the agency use flexible compensation strategies to attract and retain high-quality employees who possess these mission-critical competencies?

Ms. Dawsey: NASA is refining our recruitment process, our recruitment strategy, in several ways. We're conducting more targeted recruitment. For example, we're recruiting for mission-critical occupations and underrepresented groups in diversity.

We're increasing our collaboration with our Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity and our NASA Education Office, and we're enhancing and expanding student programs that can serve as a pipeline into our workforce. We're developing our partnerships and relationships, for example, with non-profit organizations, industry, other federal agencies, professional organizations, and educational institutions that can be beneficial in future recruitment efforts, initiatives, and strategies.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, although it's important to bring new talent into NASA, your organization's approach to strengthening competency needs also involves leveraging the talent that's already available in the current workforce. Could you elaborate a bit on NASA's retraining efforts?

Ms. Dawsey: Yes. NASA is engaged in several activities designed to realign our workforce to meet our new objectives. We have training and what we call retraining programs in support of program and project management, systems engineering, and quality of mission assurance, and we're also training technicians to be technologists.

We're developing a deliberate and systematic growth and development opportunity path through actually what we're calling a career pathing approach, and through redesigned leadership development programs.

The career pathing is providing for each discipline a transparent career progression path. Ordinarily, employees when they enter government are looking to see what duties they need to perform to be promoted to the next-higher grade level. But in NASA, we're looking to build pipelines for our journeyman level, our program project management level, senior executive service, senior technical, and senior leads.

And that requires more than just working to be better within what we consider a stovepipe of the promotion career ladder. We're trying to give employees a look at the broader goals they need to seek to be part of the technical management leadership team at NASA.

So each career path will not only show the duties they need for the next grade level, but it will show recommended and sometimes required assignments, competencies, developmental experiences, training, certifications, if needed, rotational assignments, coaching, and mentoring.

And the purpose of this is to have employees that we can select from inside who understand all of NASA, not just one center, to have employees understand the institutions and the programs side of the house, and employees who have networked and know how to network and collaborate, both internally and externally.

So we're trying to start at much lower levels in the agency to develop well-rounded professionals to take on our management positions over the next several years.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, staying on the employee development theme, could you talk a little bit more about NASA's key learning and development strategies and initiatives? And in particular, what is NASA doing to ensure continuity of leadership through succession planning and executive development?

Ms. Dawsey: Okay. I started to touch on that, but we are doing so much at NASA, I really like to talk about it, and so I'll expand on that a little.

We have a corporate integrated approach to leadership development first of all. NASA has created a leadership strategy, which is used by both agency-wide and center leadership program managers as a framework for designing and implementing leadership programs. This framework provides continuity through succession planning and executive development.

We've redesigned the agency's residential leadership programs -- that includes a program focus on the strategic alignment of leaders to the NASA vision for space exploration, as well as programs that focus on current hot leadership topics relevant to achieving mission.

We have a new program. What we've done is we realized that while we have excellent leadership training programs, those programs have been geared to employees at the journeyman level or close to. And we realize in today's world that this type of training is very important at much lower grade levels. We need to teach our professionals at -- for example, grades 11 and 12, which we started doing with a new program called NASA First.

We're teaching them about NASA, about rotating around centers to learn what centers are doing, and learning the leadership skills of collaborating, benchmarking, using best practices. And with that program, starting at grades 11 and 12, we're getting to people when they're also -- it's a lot easier to get them into training and start the culture change. And in NASA, that means learning that mobility is important, and that being called from one center to another center is something that they should expect and probably will be required to do in the future as the mission transitions to Constellation.

And they set up a network that has been really, really helpful, and that they're seeing how an engineer can help an information technology person, who can help a scientist, and just through the different kinds of tools that we have in common, for example, systems tools, and hear that exchange and see the network -- for example, of an engineer expand to include people in the chief financial office and in other business support offices -- for example, procurement, even human capital. It's very exciting.

And so the leadership development program now basically starts at a much lower grade level and then proceeds up through into our senior executive candidate development program, which is a rigorous program, and we're very proud of it. It has Office of Personnel Management approval. It is a program that they hold out as a model in government.

We also have fellowship programs that ensure that employees have the opportunity to obtain best-in-class development at the finest educational institutions. And in terms of our succession planning efforts, we've developed and implemented a succession planning framework also.

The plan centers around NASA's leadership model and includes a newly created leadership framework which is designed to articulate developmental experiences for all leadership roles within the agency. This corporate leadership succession strategy supports creating a skilled pipeline for leadership within the agency. It includes a variety of components -- workforce planning and analysis, formal leadership development programs, formal and informal coaching and mentoring programs, and leadership training -- and is supplemented by center-level developmental activities.

The plan capitalizes on the agency's long-time support of leadership development and training. It defines a leadership life cycle of development and enhances existing programs by incorporating, as I said, the entry-level leadership program NASA First, and we have created an advisory council composed of senior leaders that will oversee succession management within the organization, including participating in selections for our formal leadership development programs.

The group also will complete an annual review of the succession management framework to ensure that it stays relevant to agency needs.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, NASA is also addressing unique challenges presented by retiring the Space Shuttle. Could you talk about some of the specifics of these challenges facing the organization, and also, what is NASA doing to address these challenges?

Ms. Dawsey: Yeah, NASA is facing some unique challenges associated with Shuttle retirement, and we need to retain skills necessary to safely execute remaining Space Shuttle missions to the very last flight, and then we need to manage the transition of appropriate Shuttle workforce into Constellation; and we need to retain skills between fiscal years 2010 and fiscal year 2015 necessary to safely execute Constellation flight operations.

To address these challenges, one effort underway is what we are calling the Shuttle workforce mapping project. Many of the employees currently working on the Shuttle program will be needed to work on the Constellation program. For that reason, a team of headquarters and center representatives is developing a mapping of the Shuttle workforce to Constellation work. This plan will reflect the planned migration of our employees supporting the Shuttle program to Constellation, phased to correspond to key milestones in both programs.

And the first mapping is scheduled to be completed in mid-August. It will be iterated and refined regularly after that date, particularly as Constellation program needs and the Shuttle flight manifest schedules are updated.

In addition, we're holding agency-wide capability assessment forums to further refine our workforce planning picture. Several modeling, simulation, and analytical tools also are being evaluated in our quest to better capture system dynamics and requirements-driven workforce and skill mix forecasting.

Cumulatively, these activities and prospective tools will enhance our analytic capability in these areas.

Mr. Morales: Toni, let me switch gears for a moment now. Under its Integrated Enterprise Management Program, and sometimes it's commonly referred to as the IEMP, NASA is transforming its finances, human resources, assets, and processes through a combination of supporting technology and business infrastructure. Could you elaborate on the IEMP's human capital information environment project, and could you give us a sense of the benefits from its implementation?

Ms. Dawsey: Sure. Until just recently, we had 75 different human resource systems that were not integrated. They didn't talk to one another. So we set out two years ago to integrate them first, and that was, as I said, accomplished last month, and as of the end of this month, our HR portal, as we call it, will be open throughout the human capital community.

We are now, as part of what we're calling the human capital information environment, working with IEMP to incorporate that HR portal into the other business support systems. We intend to provide authoritative single source and timely workforce data this way.

To kind of give you an idea of what the human capital information environment will provide, we'll be able to integrate existing NASA budget data with workforce data, and we'll be able to view projected workforce information, budget actuals, and workforce planning data. And we've not been able to do that.

We'll be able to view employee-related cost information, view a collection of current and historical workforce information to support the budget planning process, and we'll understand the total workforce composition, moving from a system with compartmentalized, self-contained capabilities to a system with a better understanding of all its capabilities. We'll be able to facilitate informed decisions regarding the current and planned workforce, to view their status based on plans and actual labor charges. And we'll be able to assess full cost data and loaded rates.

Mr. Morales: Toni, we talked earlier about some of the challenges around the blended workforce. And so given the composition of NASA, how does your organization evaluate HR field performance, as well as impart the best practices to NASA's HR community? And what steps are you pursuing to ensure that these policies and procedures are documented and communicated in a timely and comprehensible manner, and that its implementation is being monitored?

Ms. Dawsey: NASA evaluates center HR performance through a comprehensive human capital accountability system designed to assess the health of human capital programs across the agency. The accountability system ensures accountability for efficient, effective, and aligned human capital programs while balancing the need to assure that human capital decisions are made based on merit.

NASA has embraced the five-pronged approach to managing the assessment activities. We do agency program studies. We do agency quality reviews. We do agency on-site reviews. We do center self-assessments, and we do external oversight audits.

We utilize several methods to evaluate center HR performance and to impart best practices to the HR community. The workforce strategy division within the Office of Human Capital conducts human resources on-site reviews on a quarterly basis at the NASA centers. The overall purpose is to focus on three specific goals: first, the review team seeks to understand how NASA's workforce implementation plan sub-goals are translated at the center level. And we haven't talked about it, but our workforce implementation plan was developed from the agency's strategic plan, and it contains approximately 150 tasks that we need to perform to meet the goals that I talked about earlier in workforce planning, workforce alignment, and systems and accountability. So that is one area of the review.

The review team is also concerned with strengthening relationships within the HR operating community, and the review team assesses NASA's compliance with human resources laws, rules, and regulations. That review focuses on the HR authorities that sustain the three key drivers of human capital management: strategic competencies, performance culture, and leadership and learning.

At the conclusion of each of the reviews, a comprehensive report is prepared which includes recommended and required actions as appropriate. The report is sent to the center human resources director and the center director, describing significant positive, for example, best practices or negative findings.

On a monthly basis, NASA headquarters conducts video teleconferences--we call them VITS -- with the HR community on a variety of subjects. The VITS affords NASA the opportunity to communicate information in an interactive format in real-time. NASA also issues personnel bulletins on a variety of HR-related issues. The personnel bulletins supplement current NASA policies and procedures, and if necessary, provide guidance to clarify any existing policies and procedures.

Mr. Morales: So, Toni, along similar lines, recently, the National Academy of Public Administration, otherwise known as NAPA, released a report entitled "NASA: Balancing a Multi-Sector Workforce to Achieve a Healthy Organization." And in this report, it recommends that NASA continue to find ways to balance its multi-sector workforce and restructure its existing civil service components.

Could you tell us briefly about this report, and to what extent is NASA planning to implement any of the human capital recommendations?

Ms. Dawsey: The NAPA report is quite far-ranging, and was done as a joint request of NASA and its appropriations committees in Congress. NAPA believes that NASA has an opportunity to lead the public sector as it manages and realigns its multi-sector workforce, the civil servants and contractors, for Constellation.

In planning and decision-making, NAPA recommends that we develop a risk-based planning strategy to deal with alternative futures, including program, budget, and schedule changes. NAPA favors scenario planning to inform decision-making, workforce plans, and strategies.

We have been thinking the same way, and, as I've explained, we are currently exploring methodologies for doing budget and workforce scenario planning.

Our administrator has set the policy that all 10 of our centers will contribute to the work required to implement Constellation. All have their own strengths and will be needed. The program work assignments have been managed in NASA to ensure all 10 centers can remain strong and healthy. NAPA proposes a health center framework and metrics with critical factors and success elements. They believe that NASA headquarters should conduct annual center health evaluations, and centers should perform ongoing assessments. This is something we are increasingly engaged in, and we will look carefully at NAPA's recommendations in this area.

Other areas covered by NAPA in its report include acquisition management, the engagement of the human capital function with agency planning and decision-making, maintaining an appropriate balance between contractors and government personnel, and between permanent and non-permanent civil service appointments, and finally, some ideas for new civil service flexibilities to enable more-rapid expanding or shrinking of the workforce. And as I've mentioned, we're already engaged in a lot of what NAPA is recommending.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.

What does the future hold for NASA? We will ask Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA.

Also joining us in our conversation is Solly Thomas, associate partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Toni, with the evolution of NASA's new vision for space exploration, how do you envision NASA's human capital needs evolving in, say, the next three to five years? And specifically, how do you envision your office will evolve to meet these challenges?

Ms. Dawsey: I see human capital evolving in a very positive way. I see human capital specialists becoming true partners in the strategic planning process, not only internally with our stakeholders, but externally.

And I think in terms of skills, I was talking earlier about how important it was to have the functional expertise. A lot of that is being sent to shared services centers, and what's evolving is the real true professional human capital expertise, which means looking more towards people who have some of the skills that I was talking about earlier -- workforce planning skills; that is, statistics and modeling competencies -- and skills in systems development and integration, program project management skills, because we're helping to develop and implement programs on an agency level -- and a lot of them.

And I think we need human resource specialists who have real good communication skills not only in writing and speaking, but the ability to see the way to communicate a huge amount of data that we create nowadays in a format, in a dashboard, for people at all levels in the agency. We can't give all this workforce data I'm talking about as it is to the leadership when they need to make decisions. We need the kind of HR people who are analytical enough to know what of that data is critical for the immediate decisions.

Mr. Thomas: Toni, today's broader multi-sector workforce requires the high level integration of acquisition and human capital planning, which is long overdue for the federal sector. How will NASA be at the forefront of the 21st Century governance, perhaps pointing the way for other federal agencies facing similar workforce challenges?

Ms. Dawsey: Well, we're finding it quite difficult to forecast the workforce and human capital policies we'll be needing five, 10 to 20 years out, and especially for Constellation. The decisions to what we call make or buy, meaning do work in-house or contract out -- the decisions to do that -- to decide how the work will be accomplished is a critical one, and greatly impacts the size of the civil service workforce we'll need.

What we found is that the critical make-buy decision needs to be addressed earlier in the planning process rather than later. We're making changes in our planning processes to move these decisions up and make sure the right players, including human capital, participate in the decision-making.

Mr. Thomas: There's much talk about commercial best practices in the government, in particular in service areas such as human resources. What emerging technologies do you see that hold the most promise for improving the federal management of human resources?

Ms. Dawsey: We believe that automation is key to improving the management of human resources. I've already talked about our human resources portal and our human capital information environment. And we've implemented a lot of other automated systems.

The one that we haven't so far that we're looking into is our performance management system. We want to implement a system that will not only contain electronic documents, but also route them appropriately and provide immediate notifications and feedback to employees and management officials.

Mr. Morales: Toni, I often ask my guests about the pending retirement wave in government and what type of impact it may have on their operations. What are you seeing within NASA, and what are the plans to mitigate these effects?

Ms. Dawsey: Well, right now, we have about 12 percent of the workforce that is eligible for immediate retirement, and this is normal for NASA. Fortunately, the percent of scientists and engineers that are retirement-eligible is less. They're only at about 11.3 percent.

Over the next five years, each year, about three percent of the current employees will become new retirement eligibles, and about three percent of all employees will actually retire each year.

We have forecast total expected retirements over the next five years. Some of the retirements will cause a loss in our corporate memory. Nevertheless, as NASA moves out of the Shuttle era and into a new phase of space exploration, retirement losses should be well within our capabilities to hire replacements, and retirements will give us the opportunity to bring in new talent.

Mr. Morales: Now, Toni, you've had obviously a very successful career within public service, and as we mentioned at the start of the show, you're actually returning to federal service again. What advice would you give to a person who perhaps is out there thinking about getting started in a career in public service?

Ms. Dawsey: I think there is now so much information available on a career in the federal service that we didn't have years ago. And so I recommend that those looking for employment and trying to decide between the public and private sector make sure that they do their homework about all the career possibilities across government and within each department or agency. For example, people are surprised when they hear about all the career opportunities in NASA, because they tend to think engineers, scientists, and astronauts. So do your homework.

The second is learn about the work/life benefits and flexibilities that now exist in government and which allow us to be competitive with the private sector. We have put a lot of focus on that in government, and I think it would surprise a lot of people of how important that work/life balance is in government now.

And I guess lastly, I asked a new employee whom I just hired from the private sector why he chose to go federal, and he replied that after years of working in the private sector, he did not have the feelings that he saw existing at NASA, and that is contributing on a team to fulfill a real mission for the nation, actually for the world, and so I think that's important that you look at a job in terms of what it is you're contributing to society, and the government gives you plenty of opportunity to do that.

Mr. Morales: So it's a real sense of pride and accomplishment in the role.

Ms. Dawsey: Yes.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.

Toni, unfortunately, we have reached the top of the hour, and we've run out of time. I do want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule today, but more importantly, Solly and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country.

Ms. Dawsey: The last thing I would like to say is we're very proud of NASA. There is a lot going on at NASA. And we invite you to learn about us on nasa.gov.

Thank you.

Mr. Morales: Thank you.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Toni Dawsey, Assistant Administrator for Human Capital Management, and Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA.

My co-host today has been Solly Thomas, associate partner in IBM's human capital practice.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales.

Thank you for listening.

This has been The Business of Government Hour. Be sure to join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Until next week, it's businessofgovernment.org

Raj Chellaraj interview

Friday, June 8th, 2007 - 20:00
Phrase: 
The Bureau is responsible for administrative support operations; supply and transportation; real property and facilities management; official records, publishing, and library services; language services; domestic emergency management; overseeing safety and occupational health matters; small and disadvantaged business utilization; and support for both White House travel abroad and special conferences called by the President or Secretary of State.
Radio show date: 
Sat, 06/09/2007
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Human Capital Management; Managing for Performance and Results...
Human Capital Management; Managing for Performance and Results
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast Saturday, June 9, 2007

Washington, D.C.

Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The Business of Government Hour is produced by The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness.

You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.

And now, The Business of Government Hour.

Mr. Morales: Good morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of the The IBM Center for The Business of Government.

With its unveiling of transformational diplomacy, the U.S. Department of State has charted a bold new course in U.S. diplomacy, a course that rests on working with U.S. partners around the world to build and sustain democratic well-governed states using America's diplomatic power and resources to help people across the globe better their own futures, build their own nations and thrive under an umbrella of security and peace. Supporting this ambitious approach seems no small feat.

With us this morning to discuss his Bureau's efforts in support of transformational diplomacy is our very special guest, Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State.

Good morning, Raj.

Mr. Chellaraj: Good morning, glad to be here.

Mr. Morales: And joining us in our conversation is Bonnie Glick, project executive at IBM.

Good morning, Bonnie.

Ms. Glick: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: Raj, most of our listeners are probably familiar with the Department of State as the diplomatic arm of the U.S. government. But perhaps you could give us a sense of the State Department and its history. When was it created, and how has its mission evolved over time?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely. The State Department was the first federal agency, created in 1789. Thomas Jefferson was our first Secretary of State. It is the lead U.S. foreign affairs agency. Currently, Secretary Rice has defined transformational diplomacy in this way: it is to work with our many partners around the world to build and sustain democratic well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct them responsibly in the international system. That means all of us need to think about how we are doing business, and adapt and change to meet these new priorities.

Here are some current initiatives under the leadership of Management's Under Secretary Fore: one, provide buildings and administrative infrastructure to 38 agencies overseas; maintain American presence with over 260 embassies and consulates, utilizing technology with virtual posts that can be accessed from anywhere in real time; help to ensure secure borders and provide a dignified welcome to visitors.

Mr. Morales: Raj, obviously, this is an extremely broad mission. Can you give us a sense of the scale at the Department of State? How is it organized? Can you give us a sense of the budget, the number of full-time employees, and its geographic footprint?

Mr. Chellaraj: There are nearly 57,000 employees worldwide. Nearly 45,000 of them are overseas. Over 7,500 Americans proudly call the State Department home who are overseas, and 37,000 locally engaged employees. There are more than 260 posts in 189 countries, and also in the United States. The State Department's appropriation for the past several fiscal years has been roughly $30 billion per year, and includes both State operations and foreign assistance. The FY 2008 request is about 11 percent increase, and it's around $36 billion.

Ms. Glick: Now that you've provided us with a sense of the larger organization, maybe you could tell us more about your specific area and your specific role within the Department. What are your responsibilities and duties as the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration? Could you tell us a little bit about the areas under your purview, how your area is organized, the size of your staff and your budget? Also, given the Bureau has responsibility for both overseas and domestic operations, can you give us a sense of how you balance limited resources between domestic and overseas operations?

Mr. Chellaraj: Wow, there are a number of questions in that one question. So let me just at least highlight the key areas. Some departments, as you know and our listeners know, have offices. Our department has Bureaus. So the Bureau of Administration provides global administrative support for the people and programs of America's diplomacy. We are proud that our work supports every foreign policy initiative, every employee and family member and every agency that's involved in foreign affairs activities.

The "A" Bureau is one of the Department's most diverse and dynamic organizations. The "A" Bureau budget is approximately I would say $600 million, with over 2,000 employees in over 30 offices. The Bureau's mission is making diplomacy work. And when I joined the Bureau, I added the word "better," making diplomacy work better. One of my priorities and our priorities in our Bureau is customer service and satisfaction. Our Bureau programs and services are very varied.

Let me just highlight on some of them. One, domestic real property and facilities management. We do procurement, roughly $5 billion or so a year, and that's a billion with a "b." Supply and transportation. Diplomatic pouch and mail services. Official records, publishing, library services, language services. Setting allowance rates for U.S. government personnel assigned abroad, and that's a fairly key one, as you can imagine. Overseeing safety and occupational health matters, small disadvantaged business utilization. Support for both White House travel abroad and special conferences called by the President and Secretary of State.

We also do direct services to the public and other government agencies. These include authenticating documents used abroad for legal and business purposes, responding to requests under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, printing official publications, codifying policies into Department regulations, designing, publishing, and maintaining the Department's electronic forms, processing all Department public notices for publications in the Federal Register, and the list goes on.

Ms. Glick: The list does appear to go on. You're quite right when you say the responsibilities of the "A" Bureau are very varied. Regarding those responsibilities and duties, what would you say are the top three challenges that you face in your position, and how have you addressed those challenges?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely. There are many challenges just based on the types of things we do, and frankly, we look at challenges also as opportunities to see how we can improve overall customer satisfaction. Let me give you three specific ones. Firstly, our posts are scattered throughout the world in different working environments with different technological capabilities and operating constraints, and so you can imagine the issues associated with that.

Secondly, in addition, emergency or crisis situations arise, as was the case when the war broke out in Lebanon last summer. We provided the logistics support, ships, planes, not quite cars, but vans and buses for safe passage of American citizens, 15,000 of them approximately, out of harm's way. By having sound and well-thought-out management processes in place, we are able to respond to these types of unexpected situations quickly and effectively.

Thirdly, it is really difficult to predict where the next challenge will arise, so we have our antennas and radar up and be very vigilant in terms of where the next challenge will come from.

Mr. Morales: Raj, I want to switch gears a little bit here and talk about you. You've had obviously a very diverse background, starting in the private sector and now migrating over to various roles within government. I'm curious, how did you begin your career?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely. I immigrated to the United States with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering and a couple of dollars. I realized very soon after I got here that the American education, the critical thinking was a great equalizer, and so I worked, went to school, worked, went to school, and did this a few times, and I moved from the focused field of engineering to the broader issues of public policy.

The early days were simply tough, but I struggled and survived. And career-wise, I moved between private sector and government many times, and I would encourage your listeners out there who are considering a public sector career and an opportunity to come contribute in the government to consider doing that. And over the last 25 years, this is my fourth agency in government, and this has been a real tremendous opportunity. And I will always come back when a President calls, when the Secretary of State calls or when I'm called upon to serve the country.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. So with these various experiences both in the commercial sector as well as now in government, I'm curious, how have these experiences shaped and formed your current leadership style, and how are you applying those experiences to your current role?

Mr. Chellaraj: I have handled and been responsible for most of the functions that are currently in the Bureau of Administration in my prior life, prior career, either in government or in the private sector, and I really believe good management transcends both the public sector and the private sector. And let me give you an example here. Take procurement, for example. In government, you have the Federal Acquisition Regulations, known as FAR, which I'm sure our listeners are familiar with.

In the private sector, it's not too different. There's what is called DOAG. You know, there are always all these acronyms, and essentially, DOAG is Delegation of Authority Guide. And the principles are essentially the same, in areas like procurement. You want to have the proper checks and balances, the internal controls, and who can sign up to what limits, and the principles are the same. People generally say -- either when I'm in the government or in the private sector, and I hear this in government a lot -- we are really a unique organization. We are different. Not really sure whether something will work, and what I really look for is commonalities and similarities on how we can improve processes to be more effective.

Mr. Morales: So even though the core missions are different, many of the core fundamentals are really the same between the commercial and the public sector.

Mr. Chellaraj: That's absolutely true.

Mr. Morales: How is State administering its resources in more efficient ways?

We will ask Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bonnie Glick, project executive at IBM.

Raj, given the release of the joint State and USAID strategic plan for 2004-2009, could you tell us about the efforts to integrate USAID operations with those of the State Department, and what efforts has the Administration Bureau undertaken to streamline its operations in line with the efforts of the Joint Management Council of State and USAID?

Mr. Chellaraj: Thanks, Al. Again, there are several questions there, and I'll try to highlight the key points. Interestingly enough, I worked at USAID a while back. In fact, my office then was on the same floor as where I am today, just down the hall. Who would have thought I'd be back again?

Frankly, USAID does certain functions very well, and State does certain functions well. This is about getting the best of both. State and USAID have been attempting to restructure our overseas presence to meet the challenges of transformation diplomacy and sustainable development. We both recognize the need for a shared overarching vision for management partnership, overseas and domestically, to contain growth and consolidate administrative support services. The Joint Strategic Plan established the Joint Management Council. The Joint Management Council's mandate is to identify opportunities for cooperation, cost avoidance and improved service through operational improvements. The results from our pilot posts are very encouraging.

We believe the joint approach will result in significant savings as well as a more logical, more manageable administrative platform at our overseas posts. Our focus in the Bureau has been identifying the activities where we carry out tasks that are common to both organizations. We believe that by doing this, we discover opportunities to both save money and enhance performance for both of us.

Mr. Morales: So how has this joint effort enhanced the ability of both organizations to ensure that the nation's foreign policy and development programs are fully aligned, and how has it impacted your workload?

Mr. Chellaraj: Sure. In terms of impacting the workload, it is a little difficult to quantify, as some individuals and offices directly concerned with the joint management initiative work on projects would be underway regardless of whether we had a joint management effort. Let me give you an example. We have something called the Integrated Logistic Management System, or ILMS. This is a very customer-friendly IT platform that enables us, both our contracting officers, logisticians, and most importantly, our customers, to track items from the time they are purchased until they're eventually disposed of.

Through ILMS, we get a clearer picture of our worldwide logistics operation than we've ever had before. Enhanced transparency and a whole new level of accountability for our resources. This particular initiative and effort will be important to the success of joint management, particularly overseas.

Mr. Morales: So to provide a more specific and broader context, could you provide a brief overview of such initiatives, such as the right sizing initiative and regionalization?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely. Transformational diplomacy has a number of ramifications for the Bureau of Administration, and Department management generally. For example, we're addressing the practice of each Bureau or post providing the full range of administrative services. Today's technology allows, as you know, many of these functions to be performed by a smaller group of people anywhere in the world and shared among Bureaus and posts. For example, the Department is working on establishing human resource centers of excellence.

The Bureau of Administration's executive office is one of those centers of excellence. Overseas, the security environment concerns underscore the need to provide the most efficient support services in the safest possible locations. My office is working with the regional bureaus to expand the number and scope of services currently provided by regional support centers located in Frankfurt, Bangkok, and Fort Lauderdale.

Another regionalization initiative that the "A" Bureau spearheaded along with the regional bureaus is the standardization of support services according to best practices identified and endorsed by a central governance council. These efforts I'm sure will facilitate our ability to further consolidate and regionalize overseas support services.

Ms. Glick: That sounds great. Given even tighter budget constraints, would you tell us a little about your efforts to administer the resources of the Department in the most efficient ways? How has the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services System that's known as ICAS assisted you in this regard? How does it operate and who uses it, and to what extent has it achieved its primary goals? Are there any plans to enhance the ICAS system and its use?

Mr. Chellaraj: Bonnie, the ICAS system that you refer to is really a cost-sharing mechanism. Industry has been using this for 15-plus years, and it provides us, the U.S. government, a platform for overseas shared support services. The State Department is the primary service provider at more than 260 posts worldwide. State provides these services for the Department employees, and most importantly, for the employees of dozens of other federal agencies posted overseas. There are more than 280 separate entities that receive invoices under the ICAS system. And it is really a customer-driven interagency mechanism for managing and funding administrative support services.

For example, it gives the post the authority to determine how services are delivered at what cost and by whom. This is about acting locally, ensuring that service providers are formally accountable to the customer, and incorporates a full-cost recovery mechanism for the Department of State.

Ms. Glick: Raj, you serve as chair of the ICAS Executive Board. Would you tell us about the strategies ICAS has developed to address several recommendations outlined by the General Accountability Office regarding the need to improve ICAS accountability and enhance its cost containment capability?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely. The ICAS Executive Board -- let me just give you a little background on that. It is really composed of 15 senior representatives of Cabinet-level agencies, and we meet quarterly or more often depending on what the needs are. And this is set up similar to -- akin to a corporation that would have a board of directors and management. There is a working group -- we have several subcommittees, and it is staffed and funded office within the Department of State. You're right, the GAO's report in -- I think it was in September of 2004, which was the first systematic review of the ICAS performance since it was established in 1998.

And overall, I must say the GAO found that ICAS is generally effective in providing quality administrative support in an equitable and transparent manner. Like all organizations, we take these recommendations seriously, and it will continue to be a work in progress as it evolves and we adopt the recommendations and continue to move forward.

Mr. Morales: Raj, I want to turn to the President's Management Agenda for a moment. The Department of State is one of only two federal agencies out of about 15 that have recently achieved a Green for both status and progress on the PMA's federal real property initiative. Could you elaborate on this achievement, and could you tell us about your efforts in developing and implementing an OMB-approved asset management plan? And I'm curious, what advice would you give to some of your colleagues who are perhaps pursuing the same area?

Mr. Chellaraj: The responsibility for asset management of real property is really shared by two bureaus within the Department, the Overseas Building Management office and the Bureau of Administration. In terms of advice, the short answer is there are no quick fixes. Be real detail-focused, results-oriented, and continue to monitor the progress.

Mr. Morales: Now, competitive sourcing is another initiative under the PMA. Could you tell us about some of the key competitive sourcing initiatives being pursued by State that have affected your Bureau, and as a member of the Competitive Sourcing Executive Steering Group at State, could you give us an update on your Department's overall progress in this area?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely Al, happy to. The important thing about competitive sourcing is we are looking for the most effective outcome for the government, whether the work is done inside the government or outside. And competitive sourcing is not outsourcing, and that is a concept that has been misunderstood. It is a really effective management tool, a tool designed to obtain the best value for the government, whether the work is done internally or externally. We completed the first standard competition, and it was to transform printing and publishing activities for the Department, with an estimated savings of $80 million over the next 10 years.

This is fairly significant. Modernizing printing and publication services will -- we believe -- will enhance the Department's ability to communicate its public diplomacy message in a more-timely, compelling and visually interesting way to overseas audiences. There were actually three offers that we received, and the award went to the revamped in-house organization, the Global Publishing Solutions Group. The in-house organization shifted to a market-driven pricing arrangement and adopted industry best practices and performance standards.

The Department overall from a broader picture on competitive sourcing has a green plan charting future studies which we have submitted to OMB, and we've committed to plan in terms of how we move forward. We are reviewing other administrative functions and really rethinking how the Department delivers domestic administrative services.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.

What are some of the challenges in administering the diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan? We will ask Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bonnie Glick, project executive at IBM.

Raj, what are some of the significant challenges your Bureau faces in administering the diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan? How does the model for overseas management support within your Bureau ease the burden of administrative support in dangerous posts such as these?

Mr. Chellaraj: Thanks Al, for that question. Operationally, the model for overseas management support is now known as the Iraq Orientation In-Processing center, OIP. This center developed several concepts and methods to ease the burden of administrative support in danger posts. While developed for danger posts, many of these have potential applicability for other overseas posts.

Employees from all federal agencies who are bound for Iraq and who are subject to chief of mission or the ambassador's authority, go through the center to receive their electronic check-in, their OpenNet and e-mail log-ons, cyber security training, deployment support, common access cards and so forth.

This remote check-in process allows the employees to take up their responsibilities sooner at posts. It also saves embassy human resource personnel and diplomatic security staff considerable time and effort in the processing, and spares them from responding to policy questions from multiple federal agency headquarters and entering security eligibility data into the Department of Defense systems.

Mr. Morales: Now, Raj, earlier we talked about the very complex mission that your organization has, so I'm curious, what kinds of interagency, private sector, and nonprofit partnerships are you developing to improve operations or outcomes at State, and what are you doing to enable the success of these partnerships and collaboration efforts?

Mr. Chellaraj: Sure, happy to address that. Our offices throughout the A Bureau partner with other government agencies, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations regularly to achieve their individual missions. I encourage the A Bureau staff to seek out the best in class in their respective fields, both government and private sector, and benchmark against them.

For example, we sponsor the Management Immersion Program, where we place Foreign Service officers in recognized, well-managed external organizations to learn management best practices and bring them back to their posts and the Department. Another example is our Overseas School Advisory Council. Having been a product of several degrees myself, I take real pride, and this is very important to me and for us in the Administration Bureau and the Department.

In '67, the Department of State established the Overseas School Advisory Council, a public-private partnership with U.S. corporations that have substantial overseas operations. OSAC, as it's known, is the longest-running advisory committee in the Department. The purpose of this partnership is to obtain the advice and support of the American corporate community in providing quality education for U.S. citizens, children attending overseas schools.

Currently, there are 194 American overseas schools in 132 countries assisted by the Department of State, and serve 112,000 school-age children of U.S. government and private sector employees stationed abroad, as well as children of host country and third country nationals.

Mr. Morales: Along the same lines of partnerships, could you tell us about the Department's commitment to the small and disadvantaged business community? We understand that your Bureau annually recognizes selected small business contractors who have displayed exemplary performance. Could you tell us more about this award and your Bureau's efforts in this area?

Mr. Chellaraj: The Department of State is committed to ensuring the small businesses, including small disadvantaged, (8a), women-owned, HUBZone, and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses have the maximum opportunity to participate in the Department's acquisition.

For example, last year, the Department awarded approximately $1.3 billion to small businesses. The Department's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is a strong advocate for small business firms, and has a strong history of providing outreach to the small and disadvantaged business community.

Our office participates in many small business outreach events locally and throughout the U.S. that offer small and disadvantaged business with opportunities to learn about contracting. For example, we participated in 38 events last year. We also have a successful record of achieving small business goals.

Here's something we're very proud of: the Small Business Administration presented the Department with the Gold Star Award for excellence in achieving small business goals in both 2005 and 2006. We are also proud of the mentor-prot�g� program, which encourages large business prime contractors to provide mutually beneficial assistance to small businesses.

The Department recognizes the achievements and contributions that small businesses make to its mission during the annual Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award ceremony. The Award is sponsored by the Bureau of Administration. It recognizes contractors that have displayed exemplary performance, customer service, management and technical capabilities.

The 2006 award was presented to a team of four highly skilled interpreters, translators, who traveled with our ambassadors in Iraq and provided interpreting support. We also host a small business trade fair at the Department each June for firms that sell office supplies and common usage items, as well as three information technology fairs a year, a prime subcontracting networking session in October and in veterans business affairs. So we do quite a bit in this area, and that is why we are successful, and we're really happy that the Small Business Administration has recognized us for this.

Mr. Morales: That's quite impressive.

Ms. Glick: Turning again to the topic of language services, the State Department has an Office of Language Services that effectively delivers timely, world class interpreting and translating services to the Department as well as language training.

A significant challenge, though, facing this program is recruiting a pool of direct hire employees and contractors who are among the world's best interpreters and translators. How has your organization handled this challenge, and are there any plans to relax some of the Office of Personnel Management's applicant rating procedures and security clearance requirements, which may hinder the recruitment of direct hire employees in this area?

Mr. Chellaraj: Surely. This is a very critical area for us, and we compete head-on with many organizations, particularly international organizations. Our language staff services has a staff of approximately 45 interpreters and translators working in eight languages, and a roster of 1,500 contractor interpreters and translators in 40 languages.

Finding talented individuals to perform these tasks, evaluating their abilities and ensuring that they can pass the necessary security scrutiny will always be a challenge. State Department has certain advantages, we believe. The work we ask our interpreters and translators to perform is difficult, but it's also interesting and it's international. Anyone who can say they work for the State Department, whether as a staff employee or as a contractor, enjoys considerable respect in the profession, we've come to know, because we are well-known for the rigor of our testing process.

In our recruiting efforts for qualified contract interpreters and translators, we require individuals with the highest skill levels and in many languages, and this means that the pool of qualified applicants is limited, in some instances because there's no recurring commercial need for interpreters and translators, and certain languages of limited diffusion.

We actually have to find individuals with strong language skills and provide them with training in interpreting or translating. Let me give you some examples. We've achieved considerable success in the programs we've organized in such languages as Haitian Creole, Urdu, Hindi, Albanian, Vietnamese, Macedonian, Turkish and Greek.

The search for interpreting and translating talent, particularly for the languages of limited diffusion will be an unending quest, and it'll continue. Our staff attends conferences, seminars, regional gatherings, academic symposiums, and job fairs to find the talent we need to perform the work that is required by our clients at the White House, the National Security Council, Department of State, among others.

We also work closely with our colleagues in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, turning to your question about the security challenges, to perform the required background checks in a timely manner. We receive excellent support from our Diplomatic Security Office, but there are no shortcuts, as you know, when you're trying to do background checks on people who have lived all over the world. This will always continue to be, I believe, a work in progress.

Ms. Glick: As the Chief Acquisition Officer, would you give us a sense of how procurement works within the Department of State? Given the State Department's global footprint, how decentralized are procurement operations within the Department, and what are the benefits of this decentralization, what are some of the challenges? Also, to what extent does your acquisition model emphasize the customer is king approach within your area?

Mr. Chellaraj: Sure. Procurement is a key area for us. In our Department, it is unique, because we have over 200 individual procurement offices at each embassy and post. These offices are located in virtually every country on the planet, with every imaginable set of market conditions. Some of this procurement must be done at post, because necessary goods or services can only be obtained there. Some examples would be renting a facility for a conference or obtaining janitorial service and vehicle maintenance.

These overseas procurement responsibilities are handled by Foreign Service officers who generally manage procurement, as well as a larger portfolio which could include warehousing, shipping, housing and motor pool operations. Locally hired procurement staff would support our Foreign Service officers.

For both the Foreign Service officers and local staff, one of our priorities is to provide worldwide training and oversight of this procurement workforce. Our Office of Procurement Executive, which is in our Bureau, uses the Department's improved Internet capability and e-mail to assist with these trainings. We have all the online training, we have the website, we have the help desk. So all we have made as part of standard operating procedure.

And the Department also uses regional procurement support offices. These are the ones I mentioned earlier in Frankfurt, Fort Lauderdale. It doesn't have to be procured from posts; if it doesn't have to be, we don't do it. We do it regionally as best as we can.

We're also focusing more on our technical representatives. In government, it is called COR, Contracting Officer Representative. And we hold seminars to build a community of practice. These CORs need to learn from each other. This is in addition to the normal training required to be designated a COR at the Department. We are also focusing on strategic sourcing. We've selected medical supplies, furniture, and digital copiers as strategic sourcing targets, commodities that the Department uses throughout our worldwide operations.

For example, we are piloting buying medical services by teaming up with larger partners such as DoD and the Veterans Administration. We are negotiating furniture contracts that'll standardize the types of furniture at posts for easier asset management and will leverage our worldwide purchasing power. With digital copiers, we are more concerned about supplier management and increasing the availability of suppliers.

So there are a number of things under way. Procurement is a real critical function, and we want to ensure that as we standardize and we change some of these processes, we maintain procurement integrity and the proper internal controls and the checks and balances are there.

Ms. Glick: That's great. One of the other areas that you focus on is in the area of allowances, and the Office of Allowances coordinates policies, regulations, standards and procedures for overseas allowances and differential payments throughout the federal government. Would you tell us about the e-Allowances Initiative, and what is the status of this initiative in its implementation?

Mr. Chellaraj: This is an area, where again, we are trying to focus on the customer and improve the service. The Office of Allowances, which is very closely monitored, for obvious reasons, as you can imagine, protects the interests of U.S. government and its employees and families serving overseas by ensuring that overseas allowances and differentials are appropriate to reimburse them for extraordinary costs and difficult living conditions associated with serving abroad.

Conditions at our overseas locations may change abruptly. Our current subsystem for submitting and reviewing allowances is a paper-based system, which obviously will have a lag, as you can imagine. And we really think this delay is unacceptable and began developing e-Allowances, an online way of doing things with quicker turnaround, so the surveys are done, it's reviewed properly, and the adjustments are made in a very effective manner.

Mr. Morales: What does the future hold for the U.S. Department of State?

We will ask Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bonnie Glick, project executive at IBM.

Raj, given the management changes already underway at the Department, where do you see the Bureau of Administration going in, say, the next five years?

Mr. Chellaraj: Sure. If I had to blue-sky this, my objective during my tenure is to ensure that the fundamentals are in place and working well, that we have the flexibility to respond to the changes coming in the future, such as the new IT capabilities. And it's a work in progress, and certainly will be influenced by the external environment.

There will continue to be an evolution to more quicker turnaround, you know, better cycle times, solving issues in real-time.

To your point about advice for successors, I would say focus really on people. People are the key to making things happen, and I would say attracting a talented, innovative, diverse team of experts on the Bureau team, and continuing to do so, is very important. We are currently focused on that, and the Department and the Bureau need to focus on that, and also the processes -- do the standard operating procedures -- are they making sense, and are we doing things the most effective and efficient way possible?

Mr. Morales: Now, Raj, I understand that BusinessWeek has identified the State Department as one of the top 10 places to launch a career, specifically for new college graduates, and was the only federal agency listed in the top 10.

Could you tell us how significant this recognition is to your Bureau, and how has this recognition benefited your Bureau?

Mr. Chellaraj: Oh, this recognition is very important. As you know, competition is intense for top-notch employees, and on that list you will find many recognizable names who are in the Fortune Top 10, Top 20 companies. I recently spoke at an entry-level officers' conference for those serving on their first or second tour in the Middle Eastern region, and the work experience and the academic credentials these individuals offer the Department are very impressive. They represent a wide range of backgrounds and areas of expertise, and language skills. This is exactly the type of individual the Department needs both here and overseas.

Ms. Glick: To that end, and in the spirit of the BusinessWeek ranking, what steps are being taken to attract and maintain a high quality technical and professional workforce?

Mr. Chellaraj: That's a great question. The Department senior leadership, including Secretary Rice, are fully committed to ensuring the Department's workforce reflects the excellence and diversity of America; we want the best and the brightest to come to State, and we are seeking diversity. Now, well-run private companies, as you know, have already realized this and have taken major steps in this direction. Not having diversity is not an option. Look at President Bush's leadership team here at State.

In addition to doing diversity, we are also forming partnerships with many organizations, take part in conferences and gotten our message in print and electronic media. We have diplomat residents in 17 college campuses currently across the country and growing. We identify, counsel and mentor. We have broadened outreach to many minority organizations. We need Arab-Americans, Turkish-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans, scientists, IT professionals.

In terms of the recruiting for the civil service, the Department is one of the most active participants in the President's Management Fellows Program. In FY 2004, we ranked second among overall government agencies for employing the Presidential Management Fellows. We've expanded the Career Entry Program, which is a two-year career development program open to the public, with positions in areas like contract management, personnel management, financial management and other areas and other areas.

In addition, we've done something fairly unique. We have a number of students, interns and career development programs. We have something called a "Stars Program," which is a student program that allows students to work part-time on Freedom of Information Act issues and declassification programs. We have something called CLIMB, which is an entry-level career ladder program for logistics professionals. State really is reaching out to ensure that we have the best and the brightest workforce, and that is why I believe that we are on the Top 10 list.

Ms. Glick: It is fantastic, and it's quite an accomplishment. Attracting employees is important, retaining employees is important. How do you ensure that your employees have their appropriate training and skills to do their jobs? What's your organization doing to ensure that it has the right staff mix to meet the upcoming challenges that will be faced by the Department of State?

Mr. Chellaraj: Bonnie, the Department established a civil service training continuum, which is a tool designed to be a career planning roadmap and a means to ensure that an employee systematically acquires the knowledge and skills needed for successful performance from entry-level to senior-level.

In addition, we have identified certain types of trainings as mandatory for all employees, or in some cases specifically for employees at a grade level. Give you some of these examples: computer security awareness training, mandatory leadership training, equal employment opportunity diversity awareness. Our Bureau works with our colleagues at the Foreign Service Institute to develop and teach a variety of courses; both classroom and distant learning courses, on topics such as emergency preparedness, grants management, procurement.

I mentioned the Management Immersion Program that we have sponsored. I personally encourage and support our own staff to participate in external training opportunities such as the Department of Defense National War College and the Department of Agriculture leadership programs. One of our own special assistants will start at the National War College this August.

Mr. Morales: Raj, there's an ongoing discussion around government, and even in the private sector, about the pending retirement wave. How are you preparing for this within your organization?

Mr. Chellaraj: Sure. Happy to address that. Along with the rest of the federal government, this is an important human capital issue at the State Department. As part of the Department's broad succession strategy, we have developed numerous initiatives and programs designed to ensure we have the right number of people with the right skills to carry the Department's mission.

The Foreign Service system, which is roughly 60 percent of our workforce, is an up or out career system. Higher-level positions, needs will be met by those already in the system through promotion and seasoned employees according to anticipated needs at each level. With the civil service currently -- 14 percent or so of our civil service workforce is eligible to retire, and by 2010, nearly one third of our civil service workforce will be eligible to retire. This is a fairly sizable challenge for the Department of State.

To prepare for this, we've undertaken several initiatives under the leadership of the director general. The Foreign Service Institute School of Leadership and Management Development ensures the leadership training is part of every employee's career path. We project that by the end of the first quarter of 2007, 100 percent of the State Department's target population of roughly 7,000 mid-level employees will have completed this program.

There is the Senior Executive threshold seminar, which is a mandatory 2-1/2-week course for employees newly promoted to the Senior Executive Service or the Senior Foreign Service. Mentoring is also emphasized in the Department, both for our civil service employees and Foreign Service employees. Our own Bureau of Administration also promotes and encourages using individual development plans for our employees.

The individual development plans, or IDPs, as they're known, is a statement of long- and short-term career goals and development objectives that provides a systematic approach to the training needs of employees. By planning needed training and experiences in consultation with their supervisors, employees are better able to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to contribute to the organization in achieving their career goals, and more importantly, meeting the Department's mission.

Mr. Morales: Raj, we're coming to the end of our time, but I want to ask, given your diverse and highly successful federal career, what advice would you give to a person who perhaps is considering a career in public service?

Mr. Chellaraj: That's a great question, and that's a great last question. First, I highly encourage everyone to work in the public sector. The government needs innovative, dedicated and energized people. As you consider what you want to pursue, I would remind your listeners do what you're really passionate about. This may mean your career follows a non-traditional path; it certainly has for me. When I started my career, I did not plan to be the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. Lastly, I would also say work hard, do your job well and you will get recognized and rewarded.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic advice.

We have reached the end of our time. I want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule, but more importantly, Bonnie and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country across the various roles you've held in our government.

Mr. Chellaraj: Thanks again. It's been a delight being here. In summary, as you can see, we in the Bureau of Administration touch a lot, we work hard at making diplomacy work better. And thanks again for the opportunity to speak to your listeners and share with them our mission and programs. I'd encourage our listeners to look at www.state.gov for very timely information relating to the Department of State.

Thanks again, it's been a pleasure.

Mr. Morales: Great. Thank you.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Raj Chellaraj, Assistant Secretary of State for Administration at the U.S. Department of State.

My co-host has been Bonnie Glick, project executive within IBM.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales.

Thank you for listening.

This has been The Business of Government Hour. Be sure to join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Until next week, it's businessofgovernment.org.

Terry J. Pudas interview

Friday, June 1st, 2007 - 20:00
Phrase: 
"Transformation can allow you to do things more efficiently. And that's what the question is about; it's not about numbers, it's about capability."
Radio show date: 
Sat, 06/02/2007
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Innovation; Strategic Thinking ...
Innovation; Strategic Thinking
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast Saturday, June 2, 2007

Washington, D.C.

Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

The Business of Government Hour is produced by the IBM Center for the Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness.

You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.

And now, The Business of Government Hour.

Mr. Morales: Good morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

President George Bush's mandate for defense transformation was "to challenge the status quo and envision a new architecture of American defense for decades to come."

Over the past several years, it is becoming increasingly clear that defense transformation is not simply a response to global terrorism, but rather a way to leverage the core strength of the U.S. armed forces, which is its ability to adapt and change.

As the rate of change of technology continues to accelerate, it will be even more important that the U.S. military keep pace.

With us this morning to discuss this critical challenge is our special guest, Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources.

Good morning, Terry.

Mr. Pudas: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Mr. Morales: And joining us is in our conversation is Chuck Prow, IBM's Defense Industry leader.

Good morning, Chuck.

Mr. Prow: Good morning, Al, Terry.

Mr. Morales: Terry, to provide our listeners an overall context on the subject of military transformation, could you give us a sense of the history, mission, and evolution of the DoD's Office of Forces Transformation and Resources, as well as its predecessor organization, the Office of Force Transformation?

Mr. Pudas: Sure, I'd be glad to. Let me just sort of go back in time, so maybe 5-1/2 years ago, when we first embarked on this journey. The President had declared transformation as a key priority. Secretary Rumsfeld clearly was charged was transforming the military for the new world, the new global security challenges in the 21st Century. And so my former boss, the late retired Vice Admiral Art Cebrowski, was asked to take the challenge up. The way we did that initially, of course, was we created an office that was intended to be a catalyst and a focal point for transformational thinking, and tried to jump start that kind of activity within the Department.

And so we went from that idea to creating a fairly modest office of about 15 people or So began to develop concepts of transformation. What was it, first of all? Everybody was kind of confused by this word. What do you really mean by transformation? And why do we need to do it? And of course, change is always very frightening for a lot of people -- how is it really going to affect me? And so that was a lot of the work we did in the first several years.

And besides just sort of the developing the concept, we tried to look at what are some alternative views of the future, perhaps with some alternative logic for the decision-makers as we run through this transformational activity. And then we actually created some sort of what we called experimental articles along the way as sort of tangible examples of those things.

So we went from there to last year, when we realigned the office within the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to continue that kind of work within the Department. So essentially, we went from sort of this what is this and how is this going to affect me to the culture of the organization actually changing in a way where you can move this activity from outside and more closely align it with the formal processes within the building.

And so that's where we find ourselves today. We're a fairly young organization, obviously, but we're getting our portfolio together and developing the new relationships and making decisions about where you engage in certain processes and the things you can do to continue the work.

Mr. Morales: Now, certainly this area of transformation is very broad, so I'm curious, what is the size of the budget that you manage, and have you moved up from the 15 employees in your organization today than you were 3-1/2 years ago?

Mr. Pudas: Well, actually, the budget's remained fairly constant over the last several years, and it's fairly modest. I mean, we have probably around $5 or $6 million dollars that we use to catalyze projects with and research and studies and war-gaming kinds of events, and we always do that in collaboration with other partners, so we don't embark on these with ourselves. We try to develop a large community of interest in these things.

And the size of the office is about the same. We have about 15 to 20 folks comprised of sort of government employees and military officers as well as some outsourcing support, which we've done.

And so the question is, how do you do this with such a modest budget and few people? Well, you develop a lot of relationships with other folks. And so we have relationships with many of the think-tanks in town, and FFRDCs, or Federally Funded Research places, as well as academia, and quite frankly, with industry. We have -- all the large industries have groups of people that think about strategy and the future, and so we try to team with them as well. So you leverage a small amount of people and build a large virtual team.

Mr. Prow: Please describe your specific responsibilities and duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources.

Mr. Pudas: Well, I'll try to be as definitive as I can. The vision is really to align the transformational thinking, mainstream it within the Department, as I said, and be connected to some of those formal processes that look at the future strategic environment, think about what future capabilities might look like, and then participate in the processes along the way that lead to the fielding of those kinds of things. And so that's a major undertaking. As well as to continue to sort of push the envelope and look at alternative futures, look at alternative capabilities, look at what technology opportunities might be out there from a policy perspective.

And then part of my tasking is to be sort of the policy point of contact for all of those good transformation issues that are going on at the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, and of course, Allied Command Transformation down there as well.

So that takes up a significant amount of time, and then, of course, we want to look broadly across all the general purpose forces to look where those interdependencies might be, and highlight those kinds of things.

Mr. Prow: What are the top few challenges you face in your position, and how have you addressed those challenges?

Mr. Pudas: If you've ever worked in a large organization, which I'm sure both of you have, that catalyzing change is always very, very difficult. And so that's one of the specific challenges, obviously, to do that. A large organization has a tendency to be bureaucratic, and so you have to find ways to deal with that and still be effective.

For me personally, not having been within the mainstream here for some time, that's a challenge for me to understand how that works, and so we're doing that. And then of course, it's always a challenge because there's very many competing priorities. But we are not necessarily charged with worrying about the near term. Our job is to be somewhat custodians of the future. And so to have that mix and still be relevant to some of the current things that are going on is always somewhat of a challenge.

Mr. Morales: Terry, we had a few moments prior to our show to talk a little bit about your career, and some time that you spent with the German Navy. I'm curious, how did you get started in your career, and how did you start with Defense Transformation?

Mr. Pudas: Yes, it's very interesting. I had a career as a naval officer for 32 years. At one point there during Desert Storm, I was working for a fellow named Capt. Art Sebrowski, who I got acquainted with very well in a particular job that I had, and it was very interesting. And anybody that knows of him or has been around him knows he's a very unique individual. And so that was the beginning of my association. We then parted ways and went on our own careers, and we ended up working together again up at the Naval War College in his capacity as president, and he asked me to be somewhat of a special assistant.

At the time, his charge was to sort of catalyze transformation in the Navy, and so we worked very closely together for two or three years, and then of course, he was asked to come and take this post, and he asked me if I would be willing to help him do that. And it's pretty hard to pass up a chance like that, to really have a chance to contribute, and of course, it's very hard. He used to talk about what he had spent his professional career doing, and he used to describe it as working at the intersection of national security and large-scale change. And there isn't any more difficult task, but there also isn't one that's more rewarding than that.

That's sort of how I've evolved into this position, and then of course, he stepped down a few years ago, and then I became acting for a couple of years, and we continued the mantra, and then I ended up where I am today.

Mr. Morales: Well, that sounds like a very busy intersection you just described there.

Mr. Pudas: Yes, it is.

Mr. Morales: You used the term "catalyzing change," and so I'm curious, how has your previous experience, your 32 years as a Navy officer and as a pilot, how do you think that's prepared you for your current leadership role and informed your managed approach and leadership style?

Mr. Pudas: Well, first of all, to be a good leader and manager, you have to have some competence in a particular subject, which is always key. And I learned a lot from my former boss, obviously -- you've got to be able to craft a vision for people. And then you have to be able to inspire them towards that vision. And so those three big pieces right there are the areas you have to work very hard at.

I had been in leadership positions in the Naval service and large organizations, and so I had some experience with managing people and different things. I alSo of course, had a history of making my own changes. And so some of the things that I learned were that you have to make change a very inclusive activity; you can't expect people to sit at their desks and wait for permission to think. And so what you do is you invite people into the process, you try to inspire them towards this vision, and then you invite them in to help craft their own future or participate in the transformation. And so I think some of those things that I learned while I was in Naval service, some of those I learned with my former boss, but those have been things that have sort of served me quite well.

Mr. Morales: That's great.

What is the Defense Transformation?

We will ask Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources .

Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Chuck Prow, Defense Industry leader.

Terry, could you define transformation and transformation rate within the military context? What are some of the keys to transformation, and how has transformation changed from when then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld first established the transformation office?

Mr. Pudas: Well, defining transformation is somewhat difficult. I think what I'd like to do is maybe try to describe it for you.

Our concept at Transformation is really about doing those things that allow you to continue to have a competitive advantage. And so the concept is really based on the fact that if you are in a competitive environment, whether it's in a national security context or whether you're in industry, and you're not doing this thing called transformation or constant creativity and improvement, you soon find yourself in a very big pickle here.

You are essentially a strategic fixed target. And if you think about it, there's lots of industry examples, and of course, in history in our nation-state examples. So the concept is to this continuum of constant innovation and creativity, seeking those things that are going to be the source of your competitive advantage. And it's really at the high level, it's really about strategy. It's really about choosing a competitive space and then going about the work of creating organizations, capabilities, policies, those sorts of things that influence that competition in the space.

So if you think from your side in industry, it's really the same thing, right? You're not interested in chasing the emerging market; you really want to create the next market. It's about creating the future. The future that you would like. So that's the competitive space. So essentially all the activities come under that sort of large, large strategic concept.

There's a number of things you do. You try to understand the future security environment. People like to look at it through the lens of technology. But it's really much broader than that. It's about new concepts, new organizations, doing things differently with different technologies. It's about trying to understand underlying principles, right? Which all strategists do; they look out there and they say that's really interesting that this is happening, but why is it happening? And is there a way that I could influence this particular trend in a useful way to my advantage?

So things like that. What's going to be the source of perhaps your next competitive advantage kind of thing, and there's some big examples in the past. There's the one from the Army that I always usually use is when the Army, several decades ago, said we want to own the night. Okay, well, we turned that vulnerability into an enormous competitive advantage for the U.S. today.

And it's looking for things that are game changers, changing the game and changing the rules. Changing the basis for competition. When we, for example, decided to compete on the basis of precise navigation and timing, that yielded GPS, Global Positioning Satellite, right? It not only changed the battlefield, but it changed the world. So are there things like that out there that we should be thinking about as well?

But really, and this gets to your question about rate, but it really is about people, it's about the culture of the organization. And all senior leaders know that that's where the real competitive advantage comes from. And so the ability to facilitate what you call a learning organization, one that has the ability to outlearn your competition, so this is about learning rate. And then of course, taking that learning and translating that into some kind of actionable kind of capability or organization or something. That's a real key to it as well, and if you listen to what very successful industry CEOs have done and other people, they really do focus on this learning rate piece.

Mr. Morales: That's interesting.

Now, recently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has underscored that military transformation, and I quote, "is a major charge from the President that must continue."

I'm curious, how does the recent realignment of your office within the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy support this charge?

Mr. Pudas: Well, I think that we're there now to -- we're more closely along the line with the processes. We were more -- I guess I would characterize us as an influence organization, which would try to create some new logic and try to influence the larger processes, where now we are more closely aligned with the formal processes, and so it really has changed.

I mean, since I've been at this from the beginning, I remember trying to participate in certain forums to try to provide some alternatives, and that was met with mixed success sometimes. But now it's accepted. The views may not be accepted, but the views are always welcomed. And so I think that's a big change in the Department's culture, and so as I said, we're supposed to continue to do this. I mean, my job is to always be somewhat dissatisfied and impatient.

Mr. Morales: You just let out all your secrets.

Mr. Prow: Terry, the core of the U.S. defense strategy focuses on force security challenges outlined in the Department's national defense strategy.

Can you describe DoD's ongoing shift to enhance capabilities and forces needed to address irregular catastrophic and disruptive challenges?

Mr. Pudas: Yes. I mean, there's a tremendous amount of work going on here. Clearly, we had focused on what we called the traditional challenge. The Department of Defense is very, very comfortable in that particular quadrant and sort of took ownership of that, but when you step back and look at the larger competitive environment, you'll see that there's a dynamic that happens, and that is, as you create more and more capability to deal with what we call the traditional challenges, competition moves to the others. And that's part of what you're experiencing now. And so the question is, what kinds of capabilities and organizations and those sorts of things -- you need to deal with those, and so that's a great deal of the work right now. And of course, it's very complicated.

The traditional challenges were usually owned by the Department of Defense. The other three had a larger national security component to them where you now operate in interagency kinds of constructs, and so the team is much larger, so lots of work going on in developing those relationships and what do they look like, how do they contribute? And in many cases, you go from what people talk about as kinetic solutions to non-kinetic solutions, because it's really about behavior.

So what are those kinds of things that we need to be able to do to be more successful in that particular area? I mean, you hear lots of people talking about strategic communications, which is sort of the term of art today, but how much do we really know about that? How do we know about the cause and affect of those things. So that leads you to say, well, if we really want to understand that, then perhaps we need to bring in this group of cognitive sciences and cultural anthropologists to help us understand that particular dynamic.

The catastrophic things, those things are of course very troublesome because we are in a very globalized construct in the world today, where we are very interdependent, which brings with it an enormous amount of brittleness. What might trigger a shock through the system that we hadn't thought about? I sometimes refer to the SARS event in Singapore, right, which was in 2003. Our major focus was preparing for the Iraqi campaign. But the result of that had major disruptions in economics around the world. I think we had a couple of major airlines here in the U.S. that were on the brink of bankruptcy, and we all know what happened to the tourist industry in Canada. And so this catastrophic, cataclysmic kind of stuff is quite troublesome, so how to think through what might be the consequence management of those things.

Disruptive challenges are sort of another category. How do you think about those, and what kinds of things could you do deliberately to help mitigate those kinds of threats? And we have a construct, and if you're interested, we could share it with you. I know time is limited, but this is where rate of change comes in. If you're on a linear sort of path of modernization, a prospective opponent can get a bead on you at some point and disrupt whatever that is you're trying to create, and so being able to modulate rate of change becomes a very useful construct.

Mr. Prow: How can the U.S. military reduce its vulnerability to disruptive threats by increasing investments in programs that accelerate transformation?

Mr. Pudas: Yes, I just sort of touched on that a little bit, but clearly, there's lots of work going on in the Department to work on the processes. I mean, I don't think anybody would come in and say that we're really happy with our processes now and they're just fine, we don't need to change them. Because everybody acknowledges that the rate of change is causing us to re-look at how fast we can do things. So that's going on.

But how do we do other things that help influence our thinking about what are the kind of capabilities that we might want, and how would we use them and that sort of thing, and so this notion of experimentation really becomes a very powerful tool; creating sort of tangible capabilities or experimental articles, as I like to call them, putting them in the hands of operators, bringing the science and technology community together; and then on a very rapid cycle, the developing concepts and requirements and that sort of thing. And so I think that that's a very powerful activity which is very useful, this experimentation business.

Mr. Prow: Can you please elaborate on the concept of transformation chairs?

Mr. Pudas: Sure. I'd be glad to. That's something that sometimes is underappreciated and overlooked, but I talked about it briefly in the opening segment, which was this notion of culture. How do you fundamentally get at the culture of an organization? And of course, one of the key levers of that is education.

Several years ago, we said what could we do to effect that, and so what we decided to do was help facilitate the creation of transformation academic chairs at all of the departments, institutions, and as most people know, we have junior- and senior-level colleges. We have the academies; we have Naval post-graduate school; we have acquisition universities, a whole number of these.

So how can we catalyze transformational thinking in those institutions as sort of a focal point to insert certain things in the curriculum, help influencing how people think about things? And the chairs are interesting, but the real interesting piece is that they come together every quarter and they collaborate with one another, and they share experiences, and so it's sort of a large community, and it's been quite successful.

Mr. Prow: Very good. It sounds like you're creating new models in dealing with the academies and researchers.

Mr. Pudas: Yes. Yes, that's exactly the idea. This notion of collaboration is a different kind of construct in the Information Age. It means different things. And so to be able to facilitate that in this transformation chair network -- and we also have some affiliate chairs, both international and from other folks, too. So it's taking off.

Mr. Morales: Terry, you've used terms like "rate of change," modulating change, you talked about learning, you've talked about behaviors in culture. So I'm curious, to what degree has the DoD developed metrics for measuring the capabilities of transformed military forces and the effectiveness of transformational military services, and is DoD using these metrics in making decisions about programs and resources?

Mr. Pudas: Yes. Of course, that's really the hard question, isn't it; right?

If you're in industry, you can measure bottom line, but here, you're measuring behavior or outcomes that are very difficult to quantify, so they're normally qualitative, subjective kinds of things. And so there has been a significant amount of effort on doing that. It's difficult. We need to continue that effort.

We, of course, were great advocates, and continue to be, of this notion of networkcentric operations, or whatever term you want to use. Everybody seems to buy into that, and they like that, and it's no longer debated; it's how do you actually do it? But then of course, you always run into the question with the resource people, right, and everybody has this: so tell me about the return on investment. Okay, so you have to try to articulate that. And so we've done a number of case studies sort of things to look at different units and how their effectiveness was changed and different things, and so that's been a useful activity.

I actually have a personal metric that I use. And it's used to sort of judge the culture of the organization. Language conveys culture. So the words people use say a great deal about how they've changed, their attitudes about things. And so when I think back when we started, a great deal of talk always about coordination and deconfliction and those sorts of things, but you don't hear that anymore. You hear sharing and collaboration. People use those terms a lot. We used to talk about interoperability, and now we talk about interdependence of those systems. And so for me, that's a fundamental metric for judging how the culture is changing.

This is a tough subject. Metrics have always been the Holy Grail. But we continue to work at it.

Mr. Morales: Well, as you mentioned, it's really all about driving behaviors, and behaviors historically have always been difficult to measure and quantify.

Mr. Pudas: Absolutely.

Mr. Morales: What about efforts in military innovation?

We will ask Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources.

Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Chuck Prow.

Terry, the Defense Science Board recently released its summer study on 21st Century strategic technology vectors.

Could you elaborate on this study, and what are your views on some of the key recommendations outlined in the study, specifically on the Board's new version of Observe, Orient, Decide, Act?

Mr. Pudas: Over the last decades or so, we had been very, very successful in sort of creating some sort of vectors in terms of precision, stealth, and a couple of others, which really, really served us well. But as we've been talking about, the world changes and the rate of change continues to grow. And so what are those things that we ought to really be looking at?

My personal view is that there are a whole number of exciting technologies out there which some people are calling revolutions in science, and in that category are things like robotics, nanotechnology, bioenergy information, and those are all really, really exciting. But historically, many times, the big advances have come when two or three or those collide in a very clever way or intersect, and you are able to do things that you didn't imagine before.

So I think we always want to be looking at these sorts of things, and I'm glad that they did this, and I'm sure that's going to be very useful to the Department to get their views. These are some very, very bright people who've got a lot of experience and are grounded in these sorts of things. But my view is that sometimes we also need to look at the intersections of these.

Mr. Morales: So do you have a perspective on what some of these new vectors should be, going back to precision stealth joint operations and so on?

Mr. Pudas: Well, these are personal views, but I think that there are things that are going to be very interesting in the future, and perhaps some small investment might be very, very useful.

For example, I already mentioned sort of this notion of the cognitive sciences. I mean, I believe there are many people that believe that is real science now. There were a lot of skeptics that wouldn't allow those into the scientific club, but I think that that's becoming less of a problem. I think that if we don't begin to look at things that affect logistics and sustainability, those sorts of technologies, that we're going to find ourselves out of balance. We have invested enormously in networking the force to allow the force to operate differently in sort of this large dispersed way, and so what are the things that are inhibiting us getting the maximum return on investment out of that?

And then I think that one of the things that of course is going to be extremely disruptive in the future are things in the category of directed energy. Anybody that follows that knows that it's a very interesting area, and lots of work going on there. You just have to look at the reports in the open press to know that there I think have been over 400 incidents of commercial laser kinds of things trying to dazzle airline pilots that are being used by criminals and things like that. And so I think that's an area that's going to be interesting to follow.

Mr. Morales: So again, it goes back to the novel ways of trying to drive behaviors, whether that's in a kinetic or a non-kinetic fashion.

Mr. Pudas: Right. Exactly.

Mr. Morales: Great.

Mr. Prow: Terry, have the fundamental rules of combat, meaning mass surprise, logistics in unity of command, given way to the rules based on information and knowledge?

Mr. Pudas: Yes. I mean, that's a very interesting question. I think that we're beginning to learn more about that. I mean, most people in uniform or that have been in uniform intuitively know that battles are won and lost in the minds of your opponent. It doesn't necessarily have to do with kinetic sort of stuff unless your strategy is attrition. And so what are those things then that affect the cognitive domain of your opponent?

Being surprised, being outmaneuvered, creating closely coupled events. Confronting someone with a situation for which they have no mental model, and so it is really about this notion of creating an information advantage and turning that into a competitive advantage. And so we have I think done a lot in that area.

There's still a lot to understand. It's really interesting to talk to commanders who have been in command of large network organizations and how they have admitted that they had to kind of think through their philosophy of command. All of a sudden, we have the ability for these chat rooms to pop up, and the horizontal sharing of information at lower levels, which isn't necessarily the old command paradigm, when things went up and down the chain. Now they can go across.

And so I look for sort of manifestations of different behavior kinds of things to give me clues to that. What do commanders want to command now? Commanders now want to command bandwidth, which is quite interesting, right? It used to be a back office function, moved to the front office because there's so much -- that's a source of power, and so I guess the rules or the goal hasn't necessarily changed, but I think the way we use information as a real source of advantage has become more appreciated, and people now are understanding how to use that.

Mr. Prow: Given your projection of future challenges to the nation's national security, what is the proper balance between conventional and special operations forces?

Mr. Pudas: Yes. I guess I couldn't give you an exact answer, but if I look at what happened most recently over the last several years and you see how those two conventional and unconventional forces have been operating in concert in many ways, we've always talked about being able to be more soft-like. I mean, that's been sort of the term.

What does that really mean? Well, I mean the ability to -- ease of employment and sustainment, having an appreciation for the local area that you're operating in. I mean, the Special Operations Forces have spent a lot of time doing that sort of thing. I mean, I don't know what the right balance is, quite frankly. I mean, we have to make sure that we have enough sort of capability to deal with any potential high-end kind of thing. And at the moment, of course, we're doing very labor-intensive kinds of operations, and I mean, there's been a lot of emphasis on language training and cultural awareness skills and those sorts, and those are all really, really good things.

I can tell you, though, that there are a lot of people engaged in this particular question. What exactly is the right balance? Are there synergies between the two, et cetera? And so I'm not trying to duck the question, but I don't have an exact answer for you.

Mr. Morales: Okay. Terry, I want to take us back to something that we talked about earlier around this notion of a return on investment. And certainly, calculating the potential cost of defense transformation is not a non-trivial matter. And skeptics have argued that the cost of transformation, both in the near-term and long-term, are uncertain, and that transformation therefore might not necessarily be less expensive than, say, routine modernization.

Could you elaborate on the efforts to really understand the costs associated with transformation within the military, and is it possible to reduce the defense budget and improve the Department's ability to carry out its current and future mission simultaneously?

Mr. Pudas: Let me answer it this way: I think that associating transformation to cost may not be the right metric, because it's really about making choices. Some of the choices that you make have enormous payoff to be able to operate differently than you could before, but are relatively cheap in terms of the overall system. And of course, there are some legacy things that very hard choices have been made over. I mean, you remember the big debate about Crusader and Comanche and all those sorts of things, so it's not necessarily tied to more money, it's tied to the choices that you make.

I'll give you a personal example here: so I'm trying to make the decision on my internet connectivity in my house, so the decision was do I buy this new computer, which was fairly expensive at the time, or do I invest in the high-speed internet? So I invested a modest amount in the high-speed internet, and the productivity in the household went up enormously. So it's not necessarily about buying some new high-end piece of stuff, it's how you use it that really makes a difference, and so making specific choices and understanding the return on investment I think is the real key here.

Mr. Morales: So it sounds like people are drawing an equation that transformation is equal to cost reduction, and that's not really what this is about.

Mr. Pudas: No, not necessarily. Transformation can allow you to do things more efficiently. And that's what the question is about; it's not about numbers, it's about capability. A brigade combat team today can do significantly more than one could a decade ago. And it's just like with airplanes. We used to have 200 sorties per target in World War II, and now we have targets per sortie. And so yes, you can create some efficiencies and effectiveness as you go down this transformational journey.

Mr. Morales: Terry, I only have another minute left, and we talked a little bit about this, so I'm curious, how are we using joint professional military education to transform the mindset and culture of the U.S. joint force community, including our allies and our industry partners?

Mr. Pudas: Well, of course, we talked a little bit about the transformation chairs, and that's a good thing, but one of the things that we also do is we sponsor what we call a transformation short course, which the National Defense University puts on for us. And of course, we invite everyone in the Department, as well as the other agencies, as well as members from industry, but it's pretty much opened up to just about anyone, and to sort of help catalyze this transformational thinking.

So that's been really successful, and most recently over the last -- I would say half year -- we also began a course on what we're calling stability and reconstruction. There's been a great deal of dialogue about that kind of capability and what it really is and how to think about that. And so education is a really powerful tool, I think, to get at this whole piece.

Mr. Morales: Great.

What does the future hold for the DoD transformation efforts?

We will ask Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources.

Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Chuck Prow, IBM's Defense Industry leader.

Terry, we talked a little bit about behaviors and habits, and so I'm curious, how do you make something like transformation a habit? And given your efforts over the years, could you elaborate on DoD's culture of innovation?

Mr. Pudas: You're right. I mean, people are creatures of habit. It's difficult to catalyze change, and you have to remember that the product of the Department of Defense is national security. And so you have to be careful. I mean, you have to do the appropriate due diligence and all those sorts of things, because it is a really big deal.

But I think the Department's leadership has done a lot over the 5-1/2 years when I look through my lens, in empowering people to propose alternative solutions and different -- my experience is that everybody probably at every desk has some ideas on how to improve things. And so having the ability to listen and empower those people to go ahead and make some change, and be able to do informed risk taking I think is very powerful, and so when you look on the industry side -- I don't like to use too many industry examples because I get criticized for that -- but other large organizations, they're successful, they have that sort of culture. That's what they try to instill, so I think that great strides have been made. It's something that you always have to pay attention to because it's very easy to retrench, and of course, that's not what you want to do.

Mr. Morales: Terry, the integration of the DoD policy directorate was just one of the many changes to take place within the DoD policy directorate. Can you tell us about some of the other changes, and how these changes illustrate the core transformation principle of creating a more adaptable organization?

Mr. Pudas: Well, I can try. I mean, I'm fairly recent to the organization, and this effort was started sometime before we actually arrived, but I know that the leadership of the organization felt that there hadn't been a major transformation within that organization for quite some time. There was sort of some evolutionary steps that were done, and so I believe that they felt that it was time to sort of realign the organization to reflect the global environment of today post-Cold War, and be able to be much more effective in the future, as well as looking at things that could be done to make the organization more effective from a business perspective and management perspective.

And then also, there's a human capital strategy component of this. And so the idea was then to create a different organization that would be much more effective and perhaps more efficient for the future, as well as to create an organization which we call somewhat adaptable. The ability to then change as things unfolded or as new requirements came up and to create an organization where the whole is greater some of the parts.

Mr. Prow: An emerging area of DoD's vision for defense transformation are actions to reduce DoD's energy requirements and to develop alternate energy sources.

What is your role in this effort?

Mr. Pudas: Well, this is something we took an interest in probably three years ago, perhaps even longer than that, because it was our sense that at some point we were going to have to start thinking seriously about this issue, and so we did a couple of modest efforts, a couple of studies, and we actually co-sponsored with Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics a seminar series that meets once a month. It's open to anyone that wants to attend, to look at the energy issues broadly, and it's a very complex thing.

Clearly, there are technology issues, there are policy issues, there are cultural issues. There's a whole number of things involved, but you can see that if you look just on the operational side of the house, how it's becoming a significant deal. It's part of the logistics burden I talked about earlier. And so what we'd like to be able to do is operate in this very dispersed sort of network environment that we've created, but we don't want to spend all of our time protecting convoys of petroleum, for example. So it's both a cost issue and an effectiveness issue.

And then of course, lots of people are talking about peak oil and when is peak oil really going to come, and how's that going to affect the world economy, and there's a competition for energy resources, so there's many dimensions of this, as well as environmental and all of those things. So we are still working on this. I have a couple of studies going on right now that they're trying to look at this through different lenses, trying to create some data for the decision-makers on how to think abut this big issue.

Mr. Prow: Transformation creates new competitive areas and competencies. What qualities will be needed in the warfighter of the future?

Mr. Pudas: We talked about the complexity of the potential future competitive space. Right now, we see our folks being put in very, very complex environments. They're very, very difficult. And so I think there are a couple of pieces of this.

One is clearly, there's a cultural dimension on all this stuff with language training and different things, and how do you think about these complex environments? And then also, of course, there's a capabilities piece of this, something which I call sort of how do you move from binary solutions to something that has a scale of effects? So we give our folks very, very good binary solutions, put them in very complex environments, and then perhaps they have to accept either enormous risk or they do something and there's unintended consequences. And so I think that things in that particular category that have a capability from sort of a non-lethal to a lethal capability would be somewhat useful.

Now, having said that, that is not a simple issue. There's incredible policy issues and cultural issues that go along with that when you start going down that trail, but I think that's an area that we have to start thinking about.

Mr. Prow: It sounds like there are significant human capital issues associated with this subject. What is the Department doing to attract and retain the highest quality workforce?

Mr. Pudas: I think they're doing a lot. I mean, I am not that familiar with the national security personnel system that was just put in place recently. But clearly, that was an attempt to be able to manage the human capital better, because everybody recognizes that that's really what we have to pay attention to. And so how can you unburden some of the previous burueaucratic things and large organizations have those, and so people don't necessarily want to be subject to those and in that kind of environment, so to make the environment much better, and I think that they're working very hard to attract people into government.

Mr. Morales: Terry, we're coming to the end of our time here, but I do have one more question I'd like to ask you.

You've had a very successful career in the Navy, and now supporting the DoD transformation efforts. I'm curious, what advice could you give to a person who perhaps is considering a career in public service today?

Mr. Pudas: I would tell them to do it, because I think there's no higher calling than to serve your country, whether in uniform or in the civil side. And it's very, very rewarding. It's difficult in some cases, but I believe it's a very worthwhile effort, and no matter what kind of day I've had at the office, at the end of the day, I always feel good about that I was contributing to something that was very worthwhile, so I'd like people to consider it very seriously.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. Thank you.

We have reached the end of our time, and I do want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule. But more importantly, Chuck and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country both as a naval officer, and now leading the DoD's transformation agenda.

Mr. Pudas: At the end of every time I talk to someone or give a presentation, I always like to put a little plug in for our website. You can find us at www.oft.osd.mil, and we're always looking for your comments on our website. We try to keep it updated, and we do answer the mail that people send to us.

So thank you very much.

Mr. Morales: Great.

Thank you, Terry.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Terry Pudas, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Forces Transformation and Resources.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For the The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales. Thank you for listening.

This has been The Business of Government Hour. Be sure to join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Until next week, it's businessofgovernment.org

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Monday, April 2nd, 2007 - 20:00
Author(s): 
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Vice Admiral John Harvey, Jr interview

Friday, March 30th, 2007 - 20:00
Phrase: 
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Intro text: 
Human Capital Management; Strategic Thinking...
Human Capital Management; Strategic Thinking
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast Saturday, December 16, 2006

Washington, D.C.

Mr. Morales: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Albert Morales, your host and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created the Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.

The Business of Government Radio Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Vice Admiral John Harvey Jr., Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education.

Good morning, Admiral.

VADM Harvey: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: And joining us in our conversation is Bob Bleimeister, partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Good morning, Bob.

Mr. Bleimeister: Good morning. Glad to be here.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, can you tell us about the mission of your office and how it supports the mission of the department, and the Navy specifically?

VADM Harvey: Certainly. I think the best way to think of it is I am the Navy's people-guy. I represent every aspect of the people part of our Navy, the best talent that our nation has to offer, and how we bring them into the Navy, how we take them through the Navy -- their training, their education, their assignments -- and then how we either retain them up to the point where it's time to retire or they separate and go on to another career. So it's a pretty all-consuming version or view of the people in the Navy and everything about their lives with us in uniform.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, I probably should have asked you this to start with, but perhaps you can give us a sense of the scale here. When you say Navy, how big is the Navy -- the military, the reserves, civilians -- and can you relate this size to the scope of your efforts and how your office is organized? And perhaps you can tell us a little bit about the budget that you manage.

VADM Harvey: Sure. The numbers will I think make clear that we stay pretty busy. On active duty today, in the active duty force, we have about 350,000 sailors -- that's officers and enlisted. About 50,000 officers and about 293,000 enlisted, with 4,400 midshipmen at the Naval Academy on our books. For the reserve component of the Navy, for the ready reserve, it's a total of about another 130,000, with 70,000 in our selective reserve who we have in a drilling status, who we still see in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world in various places, and then in our individual ready reserve who are on standby working through their lives but on our books as potential to serve, that's about 60,000. When you look at the civilian component, which I am not strictly responsible for, that's another 175,000 individuals. So when you total it all up, we've got close to 900,000 folks in the Department of the Navy doing the nation's business every day. Now in terms of my budget, I spend about $30 billion a year in terms of direct costs in our military personnel accounts -- that's paid allowances, training costs, et cetera. So it's a pretty hefty sum to take care of all those folks.

Mr. Morales: So just to clarify in terms of the scope, it is the men and women in uniform, both active and in reserves, but not the civilians.

VADM Harvey: Correct. That is correct.

Mr. Bleimeister: Admiral, you've got a dual title: Chief of Naval Personnel, and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education. Could you describe in a little more detail your personal role and responsibilities?

VADM Harvey: Absolutely. When you look at the title "Chief of Naval Personnel," that's rooted in law and deeply rooted in our history. The first chief of the Bureau was put in office in 1862, and that was in result to the growing demands of a rapidly expanding navy in the Civil War, when you used to just bring in and pay off the crew members on the ship and never worried about anything beyond that immediate tour of duty. When they expanded the Navy to fight the war, they realized that model was not going to be a model for success.

So today, the Chief of Naval Personnel is responsible for the recruiting function of all our officers enlisted, the training function across the board, getting them ready for what we want them to do, distributing them throughout the Navy to where we need them to be, and then again retaining those that we want to keep in for their career, who want to stay with us who we want to stay, up to the point where it's time to either retire or separate. So that's kind of the today job.

There's a future look to it, which is the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, where I look ahead and say, "Okay, here's what the Navy's structure is going to be 5, 10, 15 years from now. What do we have to lay in in terms of our plans and policies to ensure we have the right kind of people to match that kind of structure for the global environment we expect to face out at that time frame." So that's the future look, if you will. And making sure we have those roadmaps in place to get us from today to what we believe will be our future that will match up with what we think the Navy's going to look like at that time as well.

Mr. Bleimeister: Admiral, you've had a very interesting career up until you took over this job about a little over a year ago. Could you talk about how your career in the Navy started, and leading up a bit to before you took this role?

VADM Harvey: Certainly. Like so many others, it started at the Naval Academy, and I graduated from there in 1973 with a degree in political science, but I don't want to go into too much detail. It's important because one of the really big things I learned there set me on the path that has carried me through for 33 years. I was a political science major and I loved it, and the math and science and technology, the physics, electrical engineering, didn't come that easily to me, and because it didn't I sort of avoided it and didn't perhaps make the level of effort I needed to along the way. But I went on a summer cruise and realized that at its heart, this was a technologically-oriented Navy, and that to make the most of the ships, the aircraft, and the systems that we operate, you really do have to have a deep understanding of what it is -- the fundamentals of what you're doing.

And so I looked around and said getting into the nuclear propulsion program would be a way of helping to really upgrade the technical side of my education, and that was putting it mildly. I was lucky enough that I had a good enough foundation to go and be interviewed by Admiral Rickover, be accepted into the nuclear propulsion program, and since that time, I've been able to blend together my desire to command a ship with a career of working my way through the surface side of the nuclear propulsion program, where I ended up as a reactor officer on board an aircraft carrier, as well as being able to go on to command a destroyer and a cruiser. So I blended the nuclear side -- the nuclear propulsion side -- of our Navy with the surface side and that sort of defined my at-sea career.

And then on the shore side of the house, when you weren't at sea, just by accident I developed a sub-specialty in the people business, and it was purely just a random assignment when I was younger, but I really loved it. I really enjoyed every aspect of dealing with the individuals and finding out what makes them tick and how do we find the best fit for their knowledge, skills, abilities, and talents in our great Navy. And so I stayed with that on the shore side and worked the personnel piece and then the manpower policy piece, and so it just so happened I ended up ready to be given the job that I have today. So a combination of good fortune, good experiences, and great teachers made this all happen.

Mr. Morales: For someone who admitted that he didn't care for math or physics too much, that leap into the nuclear program must have taken a lot of courage.

VADM Harvey: It was a non-trivial event, let me tell you.

Mr. Morales: It's one of those life-defining moments.

VADM Harvey: Right, it really was. It was a very challenging program, and I just can't overemphasize what it meant, the sense of accomplishment that it gave me when I came through the program. And I didn't just sort of reach the finish line and collapse, I went through well and it really gave me a lot of confidence for the future. I have always felt one of the best decisions I ever made was one of the first ones I ever made.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, you have served in a variety of roles, and you've just described some of them, but can you tell us, based on some of these experiences, how have they prepared you for your current leadership role and have informed your management approach and your current leadership style?

VADM Harvey: Well, I think one of the very important things I do today is to convey to our Chief of Naval Operations, to our senior leadership, the Secretary of the Navy, a sense of the force, a sense of the people -- how do they view themselves and their Navy, their place in the Navy, their future, their opportunities, are their capabilities being exploited to the maximum that there is? And so that's a very important thing for me to understand and be able to pick up on what that is, and then turn that into something coherent for our CNO -- here's what we need to be worried about, here are things we need to be focused on, and here's where we need to be headed for the future. So my experiences in command of a battle group, of a cruiser, of a destroyer, and then my experiences ashore in the people business I think have really helped me be able to develop that sense for where the force is, and what we need to be worried about, thinking about, and doing. And that's the first big thing.

The second big thing is really getting a bead on the future, having a good understanding of where the rest of the Navy is headed so we can integrate the human capability with the technological capability we're building, understanding the global environment we're going to be in, and then pushing that forward. And so I've been very fortunate to have some tours, whether it's my postgraduate education, my experiences when I worked in the office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, getting a global view of that, and then some other jobs I've had on the Navy staff, where I've understood what the future is in our ships, our airplanes, and our weapons systems. So to blend that together to help give that good, coherent picture that the people need to fit into.

Mr. Morales: Excellent. How is the Navy transforming, maintaining, and shaping its force structure?

We will ask Vice Admiral John Harvey Jr., Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education, to discuss this with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Vice Admiral John Harvey, Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Bleimeister, partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Admiral, would you tell us about the Navy's strategy for our people? How does this enable the Navy to assess, train, distribute, and develop its manpower to become a mission-focused force that meets the warfighting requirements of the Navy?

VADM Harvey: Sure. There are two very distinct but interrelated components on the strategy for our people. The first part, the people side, starts with understanding and defining the workforce of the future -- what is the work that our sailors will have to do, what are the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they're going to need, and then how will these knowledge, skills, and abilities be utilized on our ships and aircraft and systems? So that's the people side, and understanding the work that those people will have to do.

Then there's the business side, which is how will we transform our existing processes that govern all those activities I just described to ensure that we deliver the skilled sailors we need to have who can do the work we believe we're going to have to do? Now the goal of the people side, or the strategy for our people is to define the future Navy workforce, and then what is that human capital strategy that will govern how we recruit, train and manage them for mission accomplishment? And the business side is taking a look at my domain, if you will, the manpower, personnel, training, and education, bringing those together into a single value chain, and focusing that value chain on getting the best value from the people we bring in. So it's two pieces put together, and that would comprise the total strategy for our people.

Mr. Morales: Along this same theme, Admiral, could you elaborate on the Navy's new Sea Warrior program? How does this enable a more flexible and responsive development and deployment of the total Navy workforce and provide sailors with more control over their careers?

VADM Harvey: Sea Warrior is how we brought together the training, education, and career management systems that provide and govern the growth and development of our people. Sea Warrior is how we look at this in a holistic fashion. At the heart of it is giving the individual a real input into their own career development, their buy-in, if you will, to the Navy. For 200 years, we sort of told people where to go, what to study, and what to do. What we need to do for the future is bring these individuals in and make them part of that process -- put them at the heart of it -- because it's their future that we're trying to bring together with the Navy's future. And if we get that kind of buy-in in terms of career management development, then I think we really unlock the full potential of these folks when they commit to us for a career. And so that's the growth and development of our people.

Then there's that piece I talked about -- better understanding the work and what it is that the future's going to demand of us, and then relating that work to the mission and to the capability that our ships and aircraft have to provide. So at the end of the day, I don't want to just say that a sailor delivers on a particular job, I want to be able to say that this sailor delivers this capability to the Navy and to the nation.

Mr. Bleimeister: Admiral, you've talked a bit about this -- it's really a newer focus on skills, capabilities, competencies, as some people call them -- can you elaborate a little more on how you think that's going to impact the future force, and what are some of those skills and capabilities you think are going to be more in need?

VADM Harvey: Oh, sure, and this is really exciting stuff, and I mean that in the fullest sense of the word. Since 9/11, we have been coming to grips with the rapidly changing global security environment that we're going to have to deal with today, three years from now, ten years from now. And so you have these kinds of rapid changes, and these very new demands on our sailors of what they're going to have to be able to do and where they're going to have to be able to do it. And we look at where we've been traditionally -- we've sailed to the Pacific, to the Atlantic, we've sailed in what I think people have as this vision of the victory-at-sea Navy, their view of what we did in World War II -- and now we have to expand that so dramatically in places we haven't gone before, in mission sets we haven't done before, and that type of thing.

And so as we bring that together, how do we look at the capabilities that have changed that are going to be demanded of our sailors? And within those different capabilities, what are the bundles of competencies -- those knowledge, skills, and abilities -- that we have to bring together? Because we're getting beyond "single sailor, single job" -- this is the real breakthrough concept, I think. We're looking at single sailor brings a competency, a group of competencies, that enable that individual to go in many different directions for us. Because that's the kind of flexibility and agility that our force is going to have to have, so therefore, it must be the flexibility and agility that our people are going to have to have as well.

Mr. Bleimeister: Great, and if we take that down to a specific ship, there's a relatively new ship coming to the Navy, the littoral combat ship, and a program called Train to Qualify that will help enable those sailors that man those ships to be fully ready when they arrive. Can you talk about that?

VADM Harvey: Well, absolutely, because this is a dramatic change that is driving a lot of what we've just been talking about. The littoral combat ship is our newest ship. We've just launched the first one, the Freedom. We expect to commission it and place it in service in July of next year. That ship will have a basic crew of about 40 sailors doing what used to take a ship of that size between 180 and 220 sailors to do. Obviously, when you change the math like that, you have to change some other things very dramatically as well. One of the things that we no longer have the luxury of doing is putting a sailor on board that ship and then taking the four to six months to qualify on all the various jobs that that sailor may have to do. Because there are only 40, and because they operate as such a coherent and cohesive team, that sailor must show up ready to go in all respects, with the knowledge and the ability to deal with all different watch stations, to do the specific functions and skills that we require. A very different concept, and so we call it "Train to Qualify" -- train before you get there, be qualified when you get there. So we get the maximum out of that sailor right from the minute he or she shows up to the ship.

Mr. Morales: So there's really no more on the job training with this new model.

VADM Harvey: Well, there's always on the job training, no matter where you are and what you do, but it's going to start from an incredibly high level of proficiency, and so I would call it not so much on the job training, but really the enhancement of the team that would start when you get there. The training, we're going to have to provide before that individual shows up.

Mr. Bleimeister: Great. There's another dimension to development: the Navy's professional military education continuum. Could you talk a little bit about that, what that consists of?

VADM Harvey: One of the things that we've talked about so far in this show is the rapid pace of change across the board that we're having to deal with. And so one of the ways we deal with that is recognizing that at every step in a career, we want to be sure we're investing in the individual -- officer or enlisted -- and that investment is in education. How do we keep that individual current? How do we help enable the critical thinking for that sailor that enables her to do what we need them to do in a very uncertain world? And so it starts with a required reading list that we now have. Wherever you are in the food chain -- at the lowest level of our enlisted ranks or the most senior officers -- we have a required reading list we think you need to execute and absorb in order to be proficient in what we expect you to do.

And then at every step in the career, we feel there's going to be some points for professional military education, for particular graduate education, and then for joint military education, because now we fight as a joint force. There are no Navy-only or Army-only battles anymore. So we try to blend this in across a career, both for our officers and enlisted, so that we're always bringing them more new topical knowledge to help them develop and be more effective in the jobs we expect them to do.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, you referenced the dramatic changes in the landscape that occurred since 9/11, and I would imagine that the Navy is seeking to develop and enhance its foreign language skills, its regional expertise, and its awareness of foreign cultures. Could you tell us about some of the key initiatives that fall under this effort, specifically your language, regional expertise, and cultural strategy?

VADM Harvey: Yeah, this has been a very significant line of effort for us since 9/11. It was really in the most recent quadrennial defense review, and this is the big review that went through in the last year within the Department of Defense saying, "okay, what does our future look like and how do we as a Defense Department respond to that?" Obviously we were part of all that, and the big piece of this was understanding what our language requirements are to be effective in the future. We don't just go to Europe anymore, or we don't go to Hong Kong where they speak English. We're now going throughout Indonesia, we're going into Africa, we're going all around the globe in places we never really used to engage that much before. So how do we do that? It's not just language, it's the expertise, the cultural awareness, those things you've just mentioned.

So we've stood up a new foreign area officer program, where we will educate specialists in each one of these areas that we have strategic interests in for the nation and the Navy. And we'll build around them. They will serve as naval attach�s; they will serve in key policy positions to be sure they bring that detailed area knowledge into our policies, our programs, and the decisions about what we do and where we do it.

We're realigning our personnel exchange program. If you looked at where we sent our officers and enlisted on the exchange programs that do so much to develop a really good mutual understanding with other navies and other nations, you would see we were perfectly aligned to the foreign policy of 1806. So we need to get that up to 2006, and that's what we're doing right now in terms of our exchange programs. We're heading south and east; we're not so much focused on north central Europe any longer. Languages: we just finished about 138,000 individual assessments of our sailors in 274 different languages. I was stunned at what I learned about what our sailors already know.

And now we're taking that baseline and saying, okay, where are these strategic areas that we have to have a far better linguist capability, which is really native-speaker type capability, and then just awareness where you can engage with someone but not necessarily in a perfectly-translated way? What are those requirements, where are they, and how do we fill them? And so we're very focused now on developing that program to be sure we cover all those areas. We've stood up down in Pensacola in our training command a center for language, regional expertise, and cultural awareness to help centralize how we train throughout the Navy on just those very particular areas.

The first test case of that is we're sending a riverine squadron over to Iraq, so they're getting language, they're getting the cultural piece, the tribal culture that exists over there, the obviously different ethnic backgrounds that we're reading about so much every day today. Making sure that they go in understanding the fundamentals of language and the fundamentals of culture within which they'll be expected to operate.

Mr. Morales: How is the Navy transforming its personnel function?

We will ask Vice Admiral John Harvey, Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education, to discuss this with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I am your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Vice Admiral John Harvey, Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Bleimeister, partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Admiral, can you elaborate on how the Navy is transforming from the largely blue water force from the Cold War to a much more broadly and joined, engaged force to meet the challenge of an ever-changing world? And specifically, what are some of the key components in terms of infrastructure and force capability associated with this transformation?

VADM Harvey: Sure. The first and most important piece of that is that we stood up a naval expeditionary combat command that took all these types of forces that we found being used over the last four years to support our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, that aren't those mainline blue water forces that we all kind of grew up with and understand so well. So it's the CBs, or the construction battalions, civil affairs, the intelligence specialists or master at arms, the riverine force I talked about, maritime security, small boat detachments, and all these types of forces that we brought together in one command so that we can focus their efforts, their training, their development, and their deployment in the right way and what's demanded by our support of the joint fight.

When I took the job, if someone had told me three years ago that I'd have 10,000 sailors on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan today doing all kinds of missions that they're uniquely qualified to do in support of our fight there, I would have looked at you and said, "c'mon, go back where you came from." But it's true. We have 10,000 sailors on the ground doing all types of things, leading the electronic warfare battle against the IEDs, providing security at prisons, all the things that we're so talented in, that we have so much talent and so much ability to do, and providing that to the joint force in those areas. So a huge investment in our people, in our effort, and our resources to make that happen.

We have 180 sailors on provisional reconstruction teams high in the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan working to bring that country back into the 19th and 20th centuries from where the Taliban took them. So it's just amazing stuff that's going on and we have reorganized and reshaped and recruited and changed who we bring in and how we bring them in in order to be able to be relevant and ready and responsive to these demands that we're seeing now.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, could you describe for us some of the key retention and recruitment efforts being pursued by the U.S. Navy as it transforms itself to a leaner, more agile force?

VADM Harvey: One of the very big things to understand is that we were about 382,000 strong in November of 2002. Today, as I said at the outset of the show, we're about 350,000, and we're going to head down to about 340,000 at the end of this next fiscal year. So as you lean that force, you have to be far more precise in who you bring in and ensure you have the right skill sets available to you at the right time, because you won't have the luxury of just throwing numbers at a particular situation anymore. So we're very, very focused now on the right sailor coming in with that right skills set and qualifications, so that we can train them up and get them out and into the field or into the fleet where we need them right away.

The biggest challenge I have -- this is really with our special warfare communities, our SEALs -- the War on Terror, this long war that we're in now, has demanded a significant growth in our special warfare and special operations skills sets. You don't just go out and find a SEAL on the street here in Washington or anywhere else. We have to go out and find them. It takes a lot of effort, and then it takes a lot of effort for them to get through our training, as you might expect. So that's a very, very tough nut to crack for us -- increasing those numbers from where we are today to about twice the size of the force we have right now, and making that a reality that we sustain over the long haul. Our explosive ordnance disposal specialists, our special operations folks, again very, very unique skills sets, unique individuals, incredibly valued, so big changes for us in the skills sets that we're looking for, in addition to sustaining the ships and the aircraft that we've been doing for so long.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, if I may, on this topic of recruitment, what role do things like bonuses or other incentives, as well as the sailors' quality of life issues, enhance your ability to successfully recruit and retain these types of individuals?

VADM Harvey: Well, I think they're incredibly important. You can image that we have a sustained unemployment rate in this country now of about 4.75 percent, and that defines our recruiting battle space. The job creation market is very strong, and businesses are going for the same very talented young men and women that we are. So one thing that I can offer, though, is an incredible array of training that prepares these young men and women for a future that's theirs to make. And so to help focus that possibility for them, I have a very good array of bonuses that I can pay for enlistment, if you are the type of person we need in our nuclear propulsion plants, or for the SEALs, or for a wide variety of other skills sets, I can put a bonus out there, get their attention, talk to them about the training they're going to receive, the education, and what it means for their future, and generally when we get their attention, when we have this conversation, I can get a pretty good result out of that.

So the bonus structure enables, really helps us get the attention and get the conversation started. I don't think anybody truly just comes in for the money. They come in for the opportunity. That join the Navy, see the world, learn a skill, get educated, build for the future whether in the Navy or outside of it -- that's been true since John Paul Jones took the Bonhomme Richard to sea back in 1775, so it's true today.

Mr. Bleimeister: Admiral, I imagine there's a linkage between sailor and family-readiness and combat-readiness in the Navy as a whole. But with ongoing deployments, how is the Navy helping sailors and families maintain a balance?

VADM Harvey: Well, this is one of the great a-ha moments that we've had over the last couple years. With the increased pace of operations and the lack of predictability of operations in our post-9/11 world, we've recognized that the old paradigm that you took a set amount of time to get the ship ready, to get the sailor ready, and the family ready for deployment no longer meets the mark. What we have to do is get the sailors ready sooner individually, and keep them ready longer, and so that means that families need to be prepared as well sooner and maintained at a higher level of preparedness for short-notice deployments, or deployments that were thought to be going this long in this place and now they're going a different length of time in a different place.

So the family preparedness becomes equal to sailor readiness, which then becomes obviously equal to our unit readiness. So that's that whole paradigm we have to shift to, and we have to solve that equation together. You can't just focus on the sailor, you can't just focus on the ship, you need to focus on the family, the sailor, and the ship at the same time, get them all ready together, keep them ready longer, and make sure that we're paying equal attention to all component parts of our overall fleet readiness.

Mr. Bleimeister: And one of the components of readiness for the sailor, I imagine, is fitness. Can you talk a bit more about the Navy's culture of fitness initiative?

VADM Harvey: Absolutely. We talked about the lack of predictability in our lives right now, whether you're in the Navy or outside of it. And so one of the things we found was that in terms of being ready, we used to be on this long stair-step approach -- take a fitness test twice a year, check the block, and then go back to whatever your lifestyle was until a couple of weeks before the next fitness test. That doesn't meet it for our demands these days. So we have really refocused our commanding officers on saying, "you are responsible to have a program where your sailors are maintaining a much higher level of fitness across the board," and that means they have a better level of wellness across the board, because there's a direct correlation between your physical fitness and your ability to sustain it and your overall health, which has obvious impacts on your overall job performance over a career. So we want to be ready in a physically fit type of way. It's the foundation for getting back into this idea. Think about it -- I've got 10,000 sailors on the ground carrying 60-pound packs in 120 degree weather out there in the desert. You have to be fit to be able to do that. And you may not get a whole lot of notice that you're going to have to go do that. So we've refocused our efforts to say we want to be at a higher level of fitness across the board all the time than what we sustained in the past.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, the Navy has a commitment to maintaining personal links with its seriously injured sailors. To this end, would you tell us a little bit about the recently established Navy's Safe Harbor program?

VADM Harvey: Yes, as you could imagine, when you have some of our sailors -- and there are equivalent programs for all the services, and it's really the right thing to do -- you have some of these sailors who have been very severely injured in the events in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how do you bring them back? Not only just sustain them medically but help them rebuild their lives, rebuild their abilities to function in our society, and then fulfill our moral obligation to help them make whatever transitions they're going to have to make to get on with their future and keep their families in the equation as well? There's a wide array of things that these sailors and their families have to deal with. There are our own fleet and family service centers, there's the Department of Veterans Administration and the wide array of services that they offer, there's the Department of Defense, their pay, Department of Labor programs -- it's really a dizzying array of initiatives, policies and programs that you just can't dump somebody into and say, "Good luck and figure it all out."

So Safe Harbor keeps them within the family, and keeps us engaged with these sailors and their families, help them navigate this very, very difficult process they're going to have to follow, where either they're able to return to duty at the end of a long recovery/recuperation period or transition to another aspect in the civilian world and help them get off to a good start there. It's not simple, it's very challenging, it's demanding physically and emotionally. We owe them this, it's a Navy family thing, and we're going to stay with them right through 'til when they can take care of themselves on their own.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic.

What does the future hold for the Navy? We will ask Vice Admiral John Harvey, Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education, to discuss this with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I am your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Vice Admiral John Harvey, Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education.

Also joining us in our conversation is Bob Bleimeister, partner in IBM's human capital practice.

Admiral, as you take a look over the next ten years, what type of personnel concerns do you think the U.S. Navy will face?

VADM Harvey: There are three big things that I focus on when we take our long look and try to match our people to the demands that the nation's going to place on our Navy. The first one is the changing nature of warfighting. Now, I'm not saying "the changing nature of warfare" -- that I think will stay pretty stable, but the characteristics of warfare obviously are changing -- have changed dramatically. And I think they will continue to do so. We face far more diverse, globally networked adversaries and families of adversaries -- state, non-state, loosely-allied, loosely-allianced actors -- it's a very dynamic situation. And so you're going to have to have a force that can deal with that. Not necessarily the set piece -- there's the Soviet navy, that's what we focus on, that's what we study, and you spend years and years studying that and focusing on that. We really have to widen our aperture and be far more flexible in our ability to understand the threats we face. And so we need people with different skills and knowledge and abilities to do that for us. So that's very important to me.

The second thing that's really important is the changing nature of the society that we serve, and the society from whom we draw our sailors. The demographics of this country are changing dramatically. It's not just a guess; the science of demographics really gives you some very good, hard results that are going to unfold -- a rapidly growing Hispanic population, the shrinking of our Caucasian young males in the age group between 18 and 25. So our methods of recruiting are going to have to change. We have a generational shift going on -- the millenials are coming in and the aging baby-boomers are on their way out, and Gen-X, and so we have to look at this new labor market, if you will, understand where our sailors are coming from, where the talent is, and how we reach that talent and not only bring it in to our Navy, but then make sure that they understand, these wonderful young men and women, that they have a future with us, with the kind of a Navy that we're going to be. So it's that whole nature of the people that's changing, and how we have to change as an organization to get the most out of them.

And then the third thing -- this is Washington so we're going to talk about money -- and what are the fiscal constraints that I'm going to be under. People are more expensive -- it's true in the Navy, it's true at IBM. Anywhere you look, people costs have just exploded over the last 10 to 15 years. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and I can remember this big huge industrial complex called the Sparrow's Point, Bethlehem Steel. It doesn't exist any longer, and it was done in partly because of extraordinary labor costs that were locked into the people and the way that their workforce was shaped. We can't afford to have something like that happen. We can't be a dinosaur and have a dinosaur approach to this, so we're going to have to find some pretty innovative ways of dealing with the fiscal constraints, the cost of people, the capabilities we have to deliver, and how we bring those together in a sustainable way for the future. So those are the three big ones that I spend a lot of time worrying about right now.

Mr. Morales: Let's talk a little bit about the base realignment and closure recommendations and the quadrennial defense review decisions. How is personnel and manpower involved in helping to ensure a seamless transition to new structures and missions while preserving its uniquely vital capabilities?

VADM Harvey: Well, this is really a pretty challenging process. One thing, I'm very glad that we had this base realignment closure. I fully understand a lot of the pain it can bring to individual regions, but if we haven't had this to rationalize our support structure, then I am using a lot of people doing things that don't return as much to the Navy in terms of capability as they should. So it's very, very important to us to get the most out of our people, to have the most efficient structure we have from all our supporting bases and installations. The QDR helped to clarify our future and what it is I need to focus on and what my priorities are. So it's given me that impetus to say, "okay, here's what we have to do more of; here's what I have to do less of," and then how we apportion our resources accordingly.

The one thing is that -- I'll take one exception to the wording -- is no transition to anything is ever seamless. If you talk about one of my lessons learned from 33 years, there are seams but how do you recognize them and how do you mitigate them? I think that's the key, and so it's how we work the people piece, how we work this process piece to be sure we're driven by the capabilities we must provide, and taking advantage of the technology, and then putting those together and saying, "okay, what is the infrastructure we require to deliver on these capabilities?" That's what the BRAC has given me, that's what the QDR has helped do for me, and then we're putting that together to make sure that we have that right balance between our capabilities, our force structure, our people structure, if you will, and the fiscal resources I have to sustain them.

Mr. Bleimeister: Admiral, with all this change going on, the Navy's civilian workforce is also going to undertake some transformation with DoD's National Security Personnel System. Could you tell us how NSPS will affect the Navy's civilian workforce?

VADM Harvey: Yes. You heard me use the words through the course of this interview "changing," "agile," "flexible," "adaptable," and "uncertain environment." Well, that applies to our civilian workforce as well. They face the same environment that the uniformed sailors do. So how do we best prepare them -- how do we help shape them to deal with that same type of uncertain world, with that same level of response that we require out of our sailors?

And I think this is what the national security personnel system, which is NSPS for short, does for us. It focuses on individual performance goals that are aligned with the organization's goals. Tell them why we need them to be performing at certain levels in certain areas. And so you keep the people aligned with the mission and aligned with the organization. I think that's a huge step forward. And then it gives me the ability to be far more agile in how I move this workforce around and put the capabilities that these wonderful people have against the problems we need to address. And so it gives you that kind of flexibility that's so important to us in the future. So I think this is tough, it's big change -- it is real deep change, but it is right change and it's the right thing to do.

Mr. Morales: Admiral, you've given us just a wonderful window into the exciting personnel transformations going on within the U.S. Navy. I'm going to give you an opportunity here to put on your recruiting hat and tell us, what advice would you give to a person who's interested in a career, say, in public service, especially in the military? And finally, what do you say to that young sailor out there about the career opportunities and climate of the future Navy?

VADM Harvey: Well, that's a terrific segue and I really appreciate this, because I do have some very deeply-held feelings about both those issues. Number 1, this is a democracy; it is a participatory democracy, and our armed forces across the board and our Navy will only be as strong as the investment that our people make in them. And the most crucial investment the people of the United States are going to make in their Navy is who they send to be in that Navy. And so recruiting is at the heart of everything we do. We need the best young men and women this country has to offer to defend this nation 365 days a year, around the globe, against a dazzling array of very, very deep and dangerous threats. So public service for me is service to your nation. I hope that people think about this and look at the enduring contribution that this Navy has made to this nation for the last 231 years. We are a maritime nation. Our commerce, our economy depends upon the free flow of goods and services and resources across the seas. It did in 1776 and it does today. So we need to make that investment, sustain that investment in our people, in our Navy. I think that's of paramount importance.

To the sailors today, they know and I want them to have confidence in our ability and our commitment to their future with us. They have extraordinary opportunities. We will invest in their training, we will invest in their education, and we will invest in their future. And we are committed to them being able to unlock all the opportunities and potential they have within them, to be the kind of person they want to be, to be the kind of sailor we need them to be, and to recognize that a future in the Navy is a bright one, it is a promising one, and one that offers them tremendous returns individually as well as the ability to say at the end of the day, "I served my nation, I served my Navy, I wore the uniform, and I did it proudly."

Mr. Morales: Admiral, thank you very much. Your passion is very exhilarating. Unfortunately, we have reached the end of our time, but I do want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule. But more importantly, Bob and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country in all the roles you've held within the United States Navy.

VADM Harvey: Well, thanks very much. It was great pleasure to be here today, and I look forward to continuing this dialogue any time in the future.

Mr. Morales: Fantastic. This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Vice Admiral John Harvey, Chief of Naval Personnel and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training, & Education.

Be sure and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's conversation. Once again, that's businessofgovernment.org. As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving our government but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales. Thank you for listening.

Jayson P. Ahern interview

Friday, March 16th, 2007 - 20:00
Phrase: 
"We need to make sure that we're flexible to any emerging threats -- to be adaptive to any threat posed from the moving of people or things into this country..."
Radio show date: 
Sat, 03/17/2007
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Missions and Programs; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Organizational Transformation; Strategic Thinking; ...
Missions and Programss; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Organizational Transformation; Strategic Thinking;
Magazine profile: 
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcaast Saturday, March 17, 2006

Washington, D.C.

Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The Business of Government Hour is produced by The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness.

You can find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.

And now, The Business of Government Hour.

Mr. Morales: Good Morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

One of today's greatest challenges is protecting the country against terrorists and the instruments of terror, while at the same time fostering the country's economic security through lawful travel and trade. With us this morning to discuss his organization's lead role in facing this challenge is our special guest, Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Good morning, Jay.

Mr. Ahern: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: Also joining our conversation is Dave Abel, director of homeland security services at IBM.

Good morning, Dave.

Mr. Abel: Good morning, Al.

Mr. Morales: Jay, let's give our listeners an overview of the organization. Can you tell us about the mission and the history of Customs and Border Protection?

Mr. Ahern: Absolutely Al, and thanks for the opportunity to talk about the mission of Customs and Border Protection. The way I look at it, and certainly Commissioner Basham as well, we look at it that no agency in government has a greater responsibility for protecting the homeland from the introduction of a terrorist or a weapon of mass destruction or weapon of mass effect coming into this country than the men and women who work the front line for Customs and Border Protection.

And as you know, certainly the President started with the creation of the Homeland Security Department through the Homeland Security Act when he signed that into law in 2002. And on March 1st of 2003, with very little lead time to do adequate planning for doing a merger of this magnitude, we set up the Department of Homeland Security as well as the creation of Customs and Border Protection.

In our mission, not only is it -- certainly the priority mission of protecting the homeland for terrorism concerns, but also at the same time, we have to protect the country for the introduction of agricultural pest and disease that could have devastation on the economy, the country and the agricultural markets. But also as far as traditional trade and revenue issues, $25 billion still go to the general fund of the United States Treasury. But also as far as our drug interdiction role, we seize close to two million pounds of narcotics every year, as well as seize hundreds of millions of dollars for money laundering and drug proceeds going back to drug producing countries. But also as far as the critical function that was formerly within Immigration, relative to admissibility of individuals coming into this country that could again be criminals, adding to the illegal migrant population of this country, or for the introduction of potential terrorist operatives.

Mr. Morales: Now, Jay, this is a very broad mission. Can you give us a sense of the scale of the operations? How many miles of border are covered, how many ports are we talking about? And how many people and items pass through these entrances?

Mr. Ahern: When you take a look at just the expanse of our organization, not only just here domestically, but the foreign offices we have overseas, I mean, certainly when you look at the geography, over 5,000 miles on the northern border, and 2,000 miles plus on the southern border, and the coastal communities of over 12,000 miles. And within those geographic boundaries and kind of the geography that's out there, we have over 300 ports of entry as well. So we have those as kind of our windows of opportunity where we have just considerable amount of individuals coming in to the country, certainly over 400 million people come across our borders each year air, land and sea, and that's a considerable challenge.

And as you mentioned in your opening, it's our twin pillars to make sure that we actually facilitate legitimate travel and trade as we cultivate and deploy our layered strategy for defense of the homeland, and if we don't do that accurately and do it effectively and come out with a well thought-out strategy, stifling legitimate trade or legitimate travel would have such a negative impact on the economy of the country that the terrorist organizations would win in that fashion, so we can't let that happen.

Mr. Morales: And this includes the U.S. territories in both the Atlantic and the Pacific also?

Mr. Ahern: Absolutely correct.

Mr. Abel: So Jay, your organization within CBP is the Office of Field Operations. Can you tell us a little bit about the specific role and mission of that office?

Mr. Ahern: Absolutely. I often look at the Office of Field Operations as one of the most pure examples of a merger. I mean, when we talk about the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, oftentimes, people will talk about it's the largest reorganization and merger in government history, or at least since the creation of the Department of Defense in the World War II era.

But when we actually look at the merger that occurred within CBP, it was really the one that occurred within the Office of Field Operations, where we took three different organizations formerly with Agriculture, Customs and Immigration, and merged them into one organization where we changed lines, chains of command, the front line officers all had the unifying policies and procedures under one organization now, where previously in three different departments of government, they were organized. But to take a look at the scope of the complexity that I talk about with admissibility of individuals, seizure of drugs, preventing terrorists. You know, we do that with an organization of about 25,000 people. And that's made up principally of our front line CBP officers as well as specialists who are doing the agricultural admissibility concerns. We also have import and trade specialists that provide a mission as well as many other support people that keep our organization going. And our part of the organization is basically 25,000 out of over 42,000 in the entire organization.

Mr. Abel: Now, Al mentioned the role that you play in territories as well as mainland United States. What type of role does your office play internationally as well?

Mr. Ahern: Well, internationally, we have a very significant responsibility. Certainly we have many overseas pre-clearance locations throughout Canada as well as the Bahamas, Bermuda, two in Ireland, and also in Aruba, where we have overseas officers stationed -- we have over 500 officers stationed overseas performing that pre-inspection function for people coming back to the United States that have traveled outside the country, but also, we have a very critical mission that we're out there performing. We have over 200 officers stationed in 50 different locations around the world as part of the Container Security Initiative.

So we have individuals there as part of our layered strategy interdicting containers of potential concern before they're being put on a ship laden or destined for the United States. So we have an opportunity to intervene them when there is a score or a target of risk before it gets put on a vessel. And we also have attach� and representatives stationed in many countries around the world, basically working our policies and procedures as part of the embassy corps.

Mr. Morales: So we've talked a little bit about the broad mission of CBP, and about your organization within CBP. I'd like to focus a little bit on your individual responsibilities. Maybe you can tell us a bit about the role that you play as Assistant Commissioner?

Mr. Ahern: It's a very challenging chore, and it's one I enjoy every hour of every day, and it seems like oftentimes, many of those 24 hours are filled. We joke, but it's required. But you know, I do love it and it's something that -- I started 31 years ago and it's something that I've enjoyed and aspired to do all the while. But when I take a look at the responsibility, and I -- I recently did an interview with the Washington Times, and it's something I convey to our field directors and to the front line employees when I have a chance to get out and talk to our field personnel, that if people don't get a sense of urgency and understand how critical the mission is that they perform every day, they're in the wrong profession. And that's how I start every day, realizing that the decisions I make, the policies and the operational determinations we make every hour of every day are critical to the security of the homeland, and that's essential.

Not only as far as, you know, when we execute policy decisions and provide instruction to our field from here, but dealing interdepartmental -- within different departments in government, and certainly within the Department of Homeland Security, I think we've done a tremendous job of moving forward in just basically a little over three and a half, almost four years now, creating the infrastructure, not only for creation of a new department, a new bureau, but also as far as the right policies and procedures, and the right foundation that's going to be there as our legacy years down the road.

We're really at the point in time over the last three or four years since DHS was set up and CBP was created that I believe very strongly some years down the road, it'll be written about in history books, when they take a look what happened post-9/11, what were the actions that were taken by government to go ahead and make sure an act like this never occurred on U.S. soil. I believe a lot of the things that we're doing within DHS and within CBP will be well-chronicled and speak to the security of the country.

Mr. Morales: Jay, you alluded to being in government now for 31 years. Could you describe your career path for our listeners? How did you get your start in public service?

Mr. Ahern: It began a little over 30, almost 31 years ago now. After I graduated from college in Boston, I took the Civil Service examination to go ahead and work for a government agency. I knew I wanted a career in public service. And the first organization that came calling was U.S. Customs, and I actually started on the U.S.-Mexican border in San Ysidro, California in the mid-'70s.

Mr. Morales: Now, you certainly have had a broad set of experiences in those past 30-plus years; how has your previous experience prepared you for your current leadership role and shaped your management approach and leadership style?

Mr. Ahern: Well, I think again, everything you do builds towards what you're going to be as you advance yourself through an organization. And I knew after the first few years in the organization, I wanted to continue to advance, and realizing that you would have to be mobile, have to go ahead and work in a variety of different port and field locations, and to have the different levels of management expertise. I realized that early on. So as I now sit here over 30 years later, I also look back over 10 different moves in a variety of different locations. And I'll take this opportunity to thank my wife and my two children for their support and willingness to move so frequently over those years. Because without that kind of support at home, you can't do it.

But clearly, having different positions in the field, advancing through the ranks at just about every level that's out there -- and this being my third tour back in Headquarters, this is something that I think has prepared me for the challenges today. Because when you take a look at both understanding the field, understanding the headquarters practice and making sure we have a good understanding of what goes within the Washington Beltway dealing with departments, dealing with Capitol Hill, testifying before Congress frequently, those things really -- it just takes a lot of experience and lot of time to get to that point.

Mr. Morales: Great. So it sounds like no regrets then.

Mr. Ahern: Not at all.

Mr. Morales: What is CBP's multilayered security strategy?

We will ask Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Also joining us on our conversation is Dave Abel, director of Homeland Securities at IBM.

Jay, can you describe to us what is the advance manifest rule, or sometimes referred to as the 24-hour rule, and the guidelines surrounding the Trade Act? And what is required from the carriers before entrance in to the U.S. ports? And if I may, what happens to them when the fail to meet these requirements?

Mr. Ahern: Okay, I think it's important to kind of begin with talking about the layered strategy we had when we were put in place post-9/11. We realized, given the type of attacks this country was facing at the time -- and continue to face today, I would say -- we needed to make sure that our ports of entry and the borders of the United States were not the first opportunity for us to intercept either something or someone of concern who posed a risk to this country.

So we actually crafted the Trade Act of 2002 that actually got us advance information for not only maritime cargo that we get through the 24-hour rule, but also for air and land shipments as well. And what this does for us is it gives us the information electronically for very specific elements that we can then run through our automated targeting system to score for risk before containers can be put on a vessel destined to the United States. In the last year, we had close to 12 million containers that came into this country. And currently, 82 percent of the containers that come to this country actually come through ports where we have our Container Security Initiative folks staffed overseas.

But the CSI, the Container Security Initiative, would not be functional if we did not have this advance information. So we can run it through our targeting systems, and if anything scores for risk, our officers on the ground, over 200 of them today, work with their host country counterparts to assess the risks, see if they can mitigate it through any additional information that the countries could provide, either through information or intelligence sources. But then if there is a need, we will then X-ray, physically examine or use radiological detection devices to see if there's any radiation or nuclear emanations from that particular container.

And if at the end of the day, we cannot go ahead and mitigate that risk and eliminate it, we will give a carrier a do not lade order, so they will not be allowed to bring that into the United States until we can actually ensure that there's no risk to this country. So that gives us our layered extended border strategy, and that's the example we use for the maritime environment.

Mr. Abel: So you mentioned ATS a couple of times the Automated Targeting System. Can you give us a little bit more detail about ATS, maybe some of the enhancements that you're working on to that system?

Mr. Ahern: Absolutely. ATS for us is an exceptional system. And we use it for the maritime environment where we do ocean rules, where we actually focus specifically for maritime shipments coming into the United States. And we score them for risk. And we think that's smart for us to have the efficient borders I spoke about in the opening, where we didn't want to go ahead and stifle trade as we were trying to provide security. We get 100 percent of all the manifest information, but we then score it for risk.

We also under the Automated Targeting System for passenger, another component within ATS, and there's seven altogether, but the ATSP for passenger is one that's come under some scrutiny lately. And a lot of people think there's commercial sources of information we're using to score, and people have almost like a credit rating attached to them on how we score them. That's just not factually correct. What ATS for passenger targeting does for us, it's a decision support tool for our front line officers that we can have advance information, that we have, by statute, the Aviation Transportation Security Act, signed into law after 9/11, provides advance passenger information and passenger name records, basically the reservation information for travelers coming to the United States. And that's government-provided information that we're required to receive by law.

It's also the same information that we could glean from every single person, those 400 million people coming in to the country, because it's basic biographic information, and we add to that some of the reservation information that's on the record, basically the flight, the information form, the payment, that you could see if you manually looked at somebody's airline ticket. We also then couple that with crossing history. So we would then have the ability to take a look at what that might pose as kind of an assessment of that person's travel.

We also have added into the Automated Targeting System -- and I want to be cautious about giving any kind of operational detail that could compromise the program we have -- but certainly, it's important for us -- and this is something the 9/11 Commission criticized the government for -- as not being nimble and responsive enough to emerging intelligence and informational trends.

And every time when we sit in our classified briefings every day, we will adjust some of our rules based on what we see as the risk. It could for a given hour, a given day, and we use some of that information that we're getting in advance, and as opposed to sending that out through a muster module and having every officer on the front lines brief to that detail, this system, the Automated Targeting System, is flexible enough that we can write targeting rules using that advance passenger information, the passenger name record information, the crossing history, to see if there's any traits or characteristics that the system could identify and flag for the front line officer, again, as a decision support tool. It's not like something that could be used for, you know, determining somebody's ability to board an aircraft overseas.

This again has flags, and sorts 87 million people by air coming into this country, sorts it into a very manageable number of people that may pose a risk. And I say "may." And just flags them for the front line officers to follow up on. And there's no numerical score that's attached to it. It's not like an individual's credit rating that shows that they've been delinquent on bills -- we don't search into that type of information -- but it's something that's critical for us in being able to manage the risk of the universe of 87 million people by air, and we think that's a very good way for us to manage our borders and keep again, legitimate travel moving, but also looking for risk.

Mr. Abel: The volume of information is exceptional. Can you tell us a little bit about the National Targeting Center and how they relate to ATS?

Mr. Ahern: The National Targeting Center I think is one of the greatest innovations that did come up with post-9/11. Right after the events of 9/11, we created a very small office in our headquarters, and it wasn't much larger -- and I know the viewers can't see the size of our studio this morning -- but it wasn't much larger than the studio we're sitting in right now. And we started bringing in some field experts to try to do centralized national targeting, because we had different units around the country targeting for risk, but we realized that the threat of terror was global and it was certainly national for us.

And we didn't want it to just be resident in pockets around the country, so we established a national centralized location to get the automated advance information that we got through the Trade Act a few months later. And also now have the ability to have all the information for people and for cargo coming into the country run through the centralized location at the National Targeting Center. We're very proud of it, it's been something that's been exceptional for us to go ahead and deal with the intelligence community, deal with the other participating agencies -- there's many other agencies that are actually physically co-located with us at the National Targeting Center -- where we can actually manage our very large workload of, again, over 400 million people coming into this country, the huge amounts of trade that we have coming in this country, that again pose windows of opportunity for operatives or weapons of mass effect or destruction coming into this country. So it gives us ability to do centralized national targeting so we can make uniformed decisions throughout the country.

Mr. Morales: So Jay, risk to international maritime cargo demands a robust security strategy that's able to identify, prevent, and deter threats at the earliest point in the international supply chain. The international supply chain is obviously complex and ever-changing. Can you talk a little bit about CSI or the Container Security Initiative, and CTPAT, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism?

Mr. Ahern: Yeah, absolutely. Those are other components of our layered strategy. As I stated earlier, it begins with information, we got that through the Trade Act; it needs to then be run through a centralized database, that's the Automated Targeting System, managed at a central location, the National Targeting Center. But also, it was for the purpose of getting information to put it out to our assets overseas. Again, we didn't want our borders to be the first time we encountered someone or something. So we do now have over 200 officers placed at over 50 locations around the world. And these are your major shipping ports of the United States.

And at the 50 locations today, that accounts for 82 percent of the container traffic that comes to the United States; it runs through those CSI ports. We'll be opening eight more ports by the end of this fiscal year, and taking it up to a total of 58. And just for those last eight ports, it will only get us to 85 percent of the container universe. And we think that's about where we should stop, but that gives us again the opportunity to go ahead and engage with our host country counterparts. We've entered into declaration of principles with each one of the countries so that we know what each other's responsibilities are -- we're basically out there without authority, but through the declaration of principles, we work collaboratively with the host country counterpart to go ahead and deal overseas with those particular countries on, again, shipments of risk.

CTPAT's another key part, because certainly, we think one of the greatest vulnerabilities in supply chain is point-of-stuffing. And having some of your largest corporations here in the United States and overseas engage with Customs and Border Protection in a partnership agreement -- and this was brought about, again, right after 9/11, with the first group actually signing in November of 2001. We now have over 6000 certified partners, and these are your largest companies worldwide that have agreed in a physical security assessment with us, and we've actually gone out to do validations worldwide on the supply chains to make sure that there are the right controls and procedures and procedural security in place for companies overseas, and throughout the supply chain, so that we can have confidence and a higher degree of integrity at the point-of-stuffing, and all the way through the supply chain as it makes it to our ports, to our CSI teams to make it all the way through the supply chain.

Mr. Morales: Jay, I have to tell you that I'm still grappling with the scale and scope of the operations here. Along with the CSI program that you talked about, can you tell us about collaboration and the criticality of collaboration with other federal agencies? And specifically, can you tell us a little bit about the partnership that you have with the Department of Energy and its Megaports program?

Mr. Ahern: DOE and the Megaports Initiative folks have actually been one of our more critical partners. You know, another part of our layered strategy is the radiation detection capabilities, and we have radiation portal monitors being stationed at our ports of entry here in the United States. And I'll tell you that just within the last year, we had the first installations occurring at our ports of entry, the sea ports, we only had about 37 percent of the containers running through radiation portal monitors, because that's one of the last layers before a maritime container goes into the commerce of the United States, it goes through a radiation port monitor. And we're now at 87 percent, we'll be close to 100 percent by the end of this calendar year, and DOE has been a critical advisor and support for us in that function.

But most importantly, we joined in partnership with them over the last couple of years, that every place we go for CSI, we do joint assessments together. And it is a full collaborative process for us. At that point where we're out there, where DOE is looking to do their radiation detection program overseas as part of a global network, and that certainly fits in with what we're trying to do with CSI, and we think it's better for the U.S. government to put one face out there to these foreign countries, and this is something that we continue to build upon, and perhaps will have a chance to talk later about what we're doing in partnership with them with the Secure Freight Initiative as well.

Mr. Morales: Now, you talked about the ports of entry. Are you able to do this kind of screening at the foreign ports, at the port of departure?

Mr. Ahern: Yeah, we are, and we're going to be doing more of it very soon. What we currently have is a lot of the screening for radiation capabilities. It's only a few of the locations that we now have with DOE that are actually with radiation portal monitors in place where you can actually drive the trucks through. A lot of the other locations, we have handheld devices or some of the host country counterparts have devices of their own, and we complement that with large scale Xray systems as well. But as we move forward towards the next rollout of our overseas strategy with what we're doing with Secure Freight, about what we're doing in partnership with DOE and with our radiation detection capabilities overseas.

Mr. Morales: I'd like to continue for a moment on this theme of collaboration. Could you elaborate on the collaborative efforts your organization has with the other DHS subcomponents, specifically as it relates to the sharing of information used for passenger screening or cargo screening and the border security efforts?

Mr. Ahern: Absolutely. We think certainly the partnerships that we need to have within DHS are critical for us. I mean, probably one of our closest partners is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE. I mean, they are the investigative arm of a lot of the interdiction and the enforcement efforts we do at the ports of entry. And it's important for us to make sure that they have availability to a lot of the same information we do. Now, certainly -- proprietary or privacy-protected information is always maintained and controlled, but being within one department, we think it's a lot easier for sharing that information within the components that are partners. ICE is certainly one. We're doing a lot with TSA as well, not only just the transportation security aspects of it, but also the people part. And we think that's critical for us to continue those partnerships.

And one of our strongest partners we're working with right now is Commissioner Basham and also Commandant Thad Allen of the Coast Guard have charted a senior guidance group to see what other opportunities we have for collaboration with the Coast Guard. We do a lot of things together for training, joint boardings, so there's not redundancy for the trade when we're out, here comes Coast Guard to do a boarding of a vessel and here comes CBP. We're doing that now collaboratively and jointly so that we don't have to have two boardings for industry. And we think that's smart, so we're sharing a lot of information on how we select vessels for, for targeting and for boarding, and for the follow-up enforcement action.

Mr. Morales: Great.

How is CBP managing its border and port security strategy? We will ask Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Also joining us in our conversation is Dave Abel, director of homeland security services at IBM.

Jay, could you tell us, what is the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, or Safe Port Act of 2006? What are the implications of the Safe Port Act in terms of enabling CBP to better accomplish its mission? And what is the status of the implementation today?

Mr. Ahern: Well, the Safe Port Act actually codified a lot of the programs we've talked about in some of the earlier segments today. It codified our programs for CSI, as well as the CTPAT program. Also, it has more challenges for us as we look at enhancing our Automated Targeting System, and also has a requirement for us to begin doing more overseas work.

There had been a lot of conversation in the Congress over the last several months, probably close to a year now, doing 100 percent screening overseas. I'm not sure that a lot of those that were advocating knew exactly what they were saying or what that meant or what the impact was, but clearly, as a principal in the agency that believes very strongly in extending borders and having a layered strategy, it made sense for us to certainly begin some of the testing of expanding through our CSI program overseas screening. And we think that's going to be one of the key things for the Safe Port Act that we're going to be testing three overseas locations to do 100 percent screening for radiation and X-ray, complementary to our CSI ports.

Mr. Morales: Along the same theme, what is the Secure Freight Initiative, and how does this initiative support the CBP and OFO missions? Specifically, could you elaborate on what is the future direction for scanning cargo, both here in the U.S. and at foreign ports.

Mr. Ahern: Well, the Secure Freight Initiative is something that was announced by the Secretary, Secretary Chertoff, in December of '06. And basically what that calls for is fulfilling the requirements of the Safe Port Act of doing three locations overseas, 100 percent of the container traffic destined for the United States. And we'll fulfill that obligation in the ports of -- Port Qasim in Pakistan, Puerto Cortes, Honduras, and also in Southhampton in the UK.

And those will be locations where we go out with this first implementation in the overseas location, it will give us the opportunity to take the large-scale X-ray systems, high energy systems to be able to have -- to look inside the containers non-intrusively, and also have the radiation portal monitors that DOE -- the Megaports Initiative folks are going to be partnering with us on as well -- to have that radiation capability and then be able to have the capability to remote all this technology file, if you will, back to our National Targeting Center.

And I think the Port Qasim, Pakistan will be one of our best models to talk about, and we should be starting that probably within the next 45 days. So we're very aggressively out there implementing that schedule under the Safe Port Act and under Secure Freight.

But that will give us, in a place like Port Qasim, just because of security concerns outside the embassy; we're not able to put our people in the port of Qasim. So we have the capabilities now for not only just having the radiation portal monitors there, the large-scale X-ray systems, optical character recognition to be able to take a picture of the box, to be able to link that through the electronic file that we have through the Automated Targeting System, and remote all that electronically back to the National Targeting Center for assessment, to see if the score is high for risk, to see if the radiation spectra is high for radiation read, and also if there is an anomaly in the large-scale X-ray.

And that will all be electronically targeted back here in the United States. And then if we need to do a physical inspection -- again, we're not there, but we'll virtually be there, because we actually will have the capability to work virtually through a remote feed, again, video capabilities with the Pakistani customs organization as well as a two-person unit from the embassy to be able to go out there and do a physical inspection, and we'll have the video feeds back real time here to the United States to take a look at those that we need to look at overseas. So that's kind of the perfect model we'll be testing in Pakistan going in the next 45 days or so.

And we're going to really get a good proof of concept here, because certainly technology is great, we love to have technology, help do our job more effectively, but we need to make sure it works. And that's where the Secure Freight Initiative will help us when we go to these first three locations, but we didn't want to just stop where the Congress mandated that we would do three overseas locations. We're also going to begin later this fiscal year four additional modified implementations. We're going to be looking at Bussan, Korea, Singapore and also Port Salalah, Oman, modified implementations in certain terminals in those large ports, and their trans-shipment ports -- certainly a place like Singapore, it's going to pose lot of different operational challenges so we're going to learn a lot in those locations as well. And the Hong Kong location that was much talked about over the last couple of years through the scanning initiative that was going on there, we're going to continue to monitor and assess that pilot as well.

So we'll actually have three that will meet the requirements of the Safe Ports Act, but also four more we'll continue to look at for for further expansion. And that's going to very key for us as we then start to make decisions of, is there the capability to do more scanning overseas. Now, we need to take a look at not only does the technology work, the logistics involved, there's a whole host of issues with host country support, response protocols, if we do have a radiational arm, who's going to do that in certain countries. So this certainly has to be well thought out as we go forward.

We think we have a good plan conceived in the locations we're going to, but it really needs to build upon locations where we have a presence and that's our CSI ports. So we'll continue to thoughtfully roll this out as we go forward, but it's an exciting thing for us to really look at. When I take a look again 30 years ago coming into the organization, would I ever have conceived something like this happening today? No, certainly not, but this is cutting-edge for us, and we think it's exceptional for us to provide additional layers of security for the country.

Mr. Abel: Within Secure Freight, you talked quite a bit about radiological detection, you talked about looking at images, CBP also has a proposal for advanced trade data elements, I guess the shorthand is Ten Plus Two. Can you tell us a little bit about what Ten Plus Two is?

Mr. Ahern: Ten Plus Two -- actually, harking back to our discussion on the Trade Act of 2002 -- had the advance manifest requirement, in the maritime environment, we were getting 24 hours prior to lading, and we actually had a group of our expert targeters from around the country come in and say, what additional elements do you need for targeting for securing this country? And we did go ahead and go through a very rigorous process for many months internally before we then took it out for consultative discussions with the trade.

And we resolved down to the number of 10 additional data elements we feel are critical for targeting for security, as well as two additional elements that we can provide from the carrier relative to container status messaging and also stuffing location on a particular vessel -- the stow plan, if you will. So we think having that additional information is key for us.

And that's a piece of Secure Freight as well, because it's not just the overseas scanning, but it's also the additional data aggregation, and currently taking what we get from the Trade Act, expanding it by Ten Plus Two, it's going to give us greater visibility into the supply chain in seeing who actually is more detail-involved in the transaction. And we think that is the appropriate next step for us, but if I was to push that out months or years from now, I think that having greater visibility into the supply chain through data aggregators, third parties -- and I know there's a lot of issues that we need to work through on that as we go forward -- but that would be part of the longer term vision as we look in the outyears.

Mr. Abel: Is the Ten Plus Two proposal finalized and implemented, or are there steps left to go?

Mr. Ahern: The Ten Plus Two initiative is not finalized and implemented. We are at the point now where we have -- again, one of the things from the Safe Port Act, we've had for many years the Commercial Operations Advisory Group -- Committee, excuse me, it's referred to as the COAC, and we meet with them on a quarterly basis. They basically advise CBP, and previously Customs, on trade practices, and over the last few years, security practices. And certainly this is something we've been very much involved with the COAC on, but also as part of the ACE working group, some of the TSN subgroups that are out there with the Trade Support Network, taking a look at what is out there within industry, because, again, for us to sit down and conceive, say well, we just need these ten additional elements, but if nobody has them, it's going to be kind of an unrealistic theory on our part, so we wanted to make sure we had full consultation with the trade.

Long answer to the very specific question, no, we're not fully implemented, but just in early February, we had our final meeting with the COAC on their proposals back on how we would get the information -- it is the information there. So that will lead us now in to further getting ready for final discussions, and then we'd have to go through the formal rulemaking process. So we'll go through notice of proposed rulemaking, public comment, final rule, and our goal is to have it implemented in a phased process towards the end of the calendar year.

Mr. Abel: You mentioned just a minute ago ACE, which is the Automated Commercial Environment. What's the goal of that program?

Mr. Ahern: Well, the goal of that program certainly is we want to make sure it modernizes what we're dealing with. Not only just our trade process but also our automated tools and targeting platforms as well. And again, we think ACE is the capability that really consolidates a lot of the information that we have, and really, it's going to place a 23-year-old system, the Automated Commercial Environment, we think that's real key for us moving forward.

It's going to enhance the business practices out there, give a single secure web-based portal for the trade community to reach in to us, a lot of the electronic information, not only just for cargo and conveyances, but also crew and certain environments. So this is also going to be a gateway for other government agencies to feed information in, because when you take a look at what CBP does, we're basically the executive agency for many government entities at our U.S. borders. So to have the information come in, this gives us a greater capability for government efficiency and effectiveness so that we can better serve the public.

Mr. Abel: Are there key milestones that ACE has achieved to date?

Mr. Ahern: Yeah, we believe there's been some very good things, and we're certainly very happy with what we've done with the Automatic Truck Manifest, known as the e-Manifest, and the capabilities that we've rolled out there. That's been great. Certainly the number of accounts, we have over 4,500 accounts for importers, brokers and carriers, and the benefit of that is more efficient trade activity. It's good for management, it's also greater visibility in the supply chain, which is good for security, and also increases compliance along the way, and that's real important for us. And the collections, having the ability to do monthly duties, much like you would do in your personal life with your credit card statement, we're still doing a lot of transactional work, and to have a monthly summary for duty taxes and fees has been great, and we've collected, through the end of December of 2006, $753 million through that monthly collection process. So that's extremely efficient for revenue collection and processing, not only for government, but also for businesses we conduct our transactions with.

Mr. Morales: Jay, I want to take us back to the discussion around technology and screening, and we spent a lot of time talking about radiological screening. Could you elaborate on other types of non-intrusive technology that's being used by CBP in the field today?

Mr. Ahern: Yeah, beyond the radiation portal monitors, something we've used for a number of years, when you take a look back to our history, we were looking heavily into drug interdiction over the years, and we've realized that large-scale x-ray systems were very adaptive to that type of a risk. And so we use a lot of high energy systems. We've got them placed at our land borders, sea ports, other locations as well that are very effective for us; a lot of handheld devices too for density detection, things of that nature.

We're also looking at, is there an appropriate way to have a container security device, to make sure that we can maintain the integrity of what's in the box. Once it's gone through a CTPAT premise, where we know there's control over the security practice at point of stuffing, to be able to secure that box as it moves through the supply chain is important for us. So we're looking at the challenges posed with developing an effective container security device. We have not found one yet. And we're still looking, and we're going to be putting some requirements out and we're going to push that out to the industry as a challenge pretty soon, but -- those are some of the things.

But also beyond just some of the large-scale technology, the evolution of systems. I mean, I talked about our Automated Targeting System and that's a huge technology for us, but I would say that even with all the additional technology we've put out there, there's two things that always keep coming back in my mind as the most critical pieces of technology, and that's our human assets: the men and women that work for us every hour of every day out there on the front lines, they do an exceptional , and technology can't replace what they do. It complements them, it's an additional tool for them, helps them in many ways. And also, I take a look at the several hundred dog teams we still have out there, and they're still pretty good today, and we've not only expanded their use for drug detection, we've now got them trained for human detection, currency detection, and we've done some testing with chemical detection for chem/bio concerns, but also explosive capabilities, so they're a huge piece of technology for us as well.

Mr. Morales: What does the future hold for Customs and Border Protection?

We will ask Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Also joining us on our conversation is Dave Abel, director of homeland security at IBM.

Jay, what trends will have the largest impact on CBP field operations, say, over the next 10 years, and how will CBP need to adapt to these changes? And if I may, not to put you on the spot, but what advice would you give to the next administration in facing these challenges head-on?

Mr. Ahern: Well, to take the last point first, hopefully I'm still here when the next administration comes around, being a career person. But I think first up, the challenges they're going to be facing is certainly -- I think the threat of terror and the risk involved with that is not going to go away. It's very clear that there are still individuals out there that want to cause harm in this country. And as the border agency, we need to be prepared for that. So that's going to be the most significant thing we need to continue to focus on. And staying focused on that in the long term is a challenge. Because certainly, when we realize the threat that's out there, that we need to continue to reinforce through our front line people every day and make sure we continue to refresh our strategies to meet the emerging and adaptive trends that are out there.

But the trends that I see out there, you know, we still need to be taking a look at how do we continue to keep our twin pillars alive: facilitation of legitimate travel and trade, and also maintaining the high level of security. That's going to be brought about by the increase of travel and trade. I mean, we're seeing in the maritime environment, container traffic growing by about 12-15 percent every year. We're seeing growth in the air passenger environment. So we need to continue to make sure we're able to stay current with not only the growth in travel, but also the accompanying risk that comes with that, and at the same time making sure that we don't stumble and actually impact legitimate flow by over-securing.

So those are going to be huge things for us, but I think to be adaptive, we need to make sure that we're flexible to any emerging threats, and I think being the border agency that we are and having the layered strategy, it's served us well for drug interdiction over the years, it's served us exceptionally well over the last few years post-9/11 to be adaptive to any threat that's really posed through the moving of people or things into this country, so we need to stay current with those trends. But also just making sure that we're current with the emergence of technology.

I mean, I'll throw a challenge out there to the industry that develops technology for us both of non-intrusive inspection systems, targeting systems, things of that nature -- container security devices. We need to make sure that these things are certainly effective, but not just effective in a laboratory or a sterile environment. Think of our operational environment when companies are looking to develop systems or technology. Dealing with the type of throughput and capacity we deal with every day, that over 400 million equates to over a million people a day coming into this country. So we need to make sure the throughput and capacity is always realized.

Environmental conditions, both sides of our borders, northern and southern, those are very big issues, so it's not a "one size fits all" for how we figure our strategy out, and also for companies that are out there to provide assistance with targeting and also development of technology and systems for us. It's critical that there's a good understanding and marriage between the operators and also the providers of technology.

Mr. Morales: And we all certainly have a vested interest in that.

Mr. Ahern: Absolutely.

Mr. Abel: The War on Terror isn't just impacting the priorities of the organizations within Homeland Security, it's also affecting the budget -- throughout the federal government, the War on Terror continues to impact the budget. What are some of the things that you're able to do in CBP in the coming years to maintain the effectiveness and the efficiency of the organization with the resources needing to be applied towards things like development of new technology?

Mr. Ahern: Well, I think when you take a look at the budget and the priorities of homeland security, one of the things I haven't talked about today is -- one of the things that plagues us today is not having secure documents for everybody coming into this country. Now, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which was brought about and is a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act required it, that people coming into this country must have a bona fide document that's secure, that adjudicates citizenship.

January 23rd of this year, we went in with the full requirement that everybody coming into this country by air from the Western Hemisphere and worldwide must present a passport. And prior to that, and a lot of a people and our listeners may be surprised: "you mean I didn't have to have a passport?" Well, from some parts of the Western Hemisphere, you didn't. But now that is a requirement. Next year in '08, we're going to have the requirement on the landside that will have to be a passport or an equivalent document. And we're working with State Department and other governments on what that equivalent document would be, but it has to be something that is machine-readable, something that has security features in there, but also something that obviously shows identity, with high levels of security and confidence in the identity, but also adjudicates citizenship.

And that's going to be huge for us, making sure that we can provide a higher level of security, because over 8,000 different types of documents are acceptable for entry into this country today. You think of all the different types of birth certificates you get from a hospital or a state or a town or city vital statistics, I mean, those are all the different types of documents that people could present, as well as a driver's license, and those can be easily fraudulently obtained or created. So we need to make sure as we think about that going forward. But that's going to be a huge budget drain for us going forward, and to have the right technology put into our process on the physical land borders is going to be a challenge. And certainly another aspect of our budget is heavily focused on the Secure Border Initiative, on the southwest border initially, but also then moving to the northern border and the coastal communities next to provide security of the borders.

Mr. Morales: We've spent a lot of time talking about technology. I want to focus a little bit inward to the organization. We talk a lot about, with our guests, about the pending retirement wave within government. How are you handling this retirement wave, and what is your organization doing to ensure that it has the right mix of people as you meet these challenges?

Mr. Ahern: You know, there is a point in time when a lot of agencies face it, and we've been facing it for the last couple of years. We've actually had some success with convincing some people not to retire, or actually rehiring some of our annuitants to stay and come back in after short periods of retirement, and that's worked well. But we also need to take a look at how do you develop and plan and mentor people for succession planning. And we've got some programs in place that we're actually carrying out to bring people into our headquarters environments with incentive programs that offer training, leadership training, mentoring as well as some executive education at some of the notable universities around the country, to make sure that they're ready to succeed us when people like me and others depart.

But it's a challenge. I think it's not unique only to the government, I think it certainly happens in the private sector as well, but you do have turnover, and sometimes you get into cycles, and you need to have a very deep bench strength, if you will, for people to succeed -- those that pass and move into retirement after a number of years of government service. But turnover is also a very good thing. I've been now in this job for coming up five years, and I think there will an appropriate time in the future where somebody comes in and takes my job, and then should look at things through a fresh set of eyes and see how they can continue to improve upon what I've been able to accomplish, and others that worked with me. And I think that's a good thing. But we need to continue to bring in people with a broad range of experience.

Law enforcement agencies like ours, we tend to look for people that have kind of grown up in the organization or have worked the front lines, and that's good to a point, but I think we also need to complement that with a lot of people with private sector experience, other government agency experience, so that we have a full view of actually what's going on in our environment, not just through the view of the people that solely work the front line, although that's critical, we need to balance that, so we're looking at alternative ways to bring others in as well.

Mr. Abel: You mentioned the need to be able to bring new folks in, and to continue to backfill the pipeline of qualified folks. In fact, at the end of our last segment, you talked quite a bit about the fact that the success of the organization is predominantly dependent on the quality of the people. I'd like, if you could, for you to expand a little bit. You talked about some of the training things you're doing with new folks. Is CBP recruiting, are you bringing in new folks? And what type of programs do you have to be able to attract the talent that's necessary to keep the high quality of individuals you currently have in the organization?

Mr. Ahern: We are aggressively recruiting, and certainly not only within our front line officer ranks, but also in the Border Patrol. I mean, the President's actually thrown a challenge to the -- or actually, more than a challenge, a requirement to -- with the CBP to actually increase the size of the Border Patrol and double it during the time of his administration, which is going to require about 6,000 more border patrol agents over the next couple of years. So we're in the midst of a hiring initiative there, but also our front line officers. We just had an announcement open and we had 33,000 people that responded to the announcement, which is considerable.

So we're having an adequate pipeline, and then they have to go through the rigor of the testing, the medical, the background, the drug screening, and everything that goes with the pre-employment process, but we're also trying to streamline that, because we know we're competing against other agencies and also private sector companies for talented young individuals coming into the organization, so we need to compress and streamline their process.

We're doing a lot of compressing, hiring at certain locations around the country to bring people on board. There's incentives for high-cost locations We're also trying to be a thoughtful employer in looking for what do we have for advancement opportunities, and I would tell you that -- and certainly any of the listeners -- it's an exciting organization. Being part of DHS today, and specifically within CBP, is an exciting time. You know, the public service that we do is a very notable profession, and it's a critical mission that we do, but not only the opportunity to work in one of our many locations around the country, but the overseas capabilities and the international affairs that we do, I think it just provides limitless opportunities for people in order to come into the organization now or in the future.

Mr. Morales: Jay, 30-plus years, a very, very, successful career, I'm curious. So what advice could you give to somebody who is sort of on that brink, thinking about a career in public service?

Mr. Ahern: I think, certainly begin with taking that jump, go into public service, and as I stated, it's a very notable profession, and particularly today, I've seen so many people over the last few years, particularly after 9/11, that wanted to be part of the solution, and come in to government and try to protect the homeland. So I think that that certainly is to have the will and the desire to come in, and there's often a lot of criticisms or jokes to some degree of the federal civil servant population, I don't see that at all. I think that certainly the people of our organization are dedicated hardworking individuals, and we need more people like that.

But certainly, coming in, one of the things I always look at when I go down to speak to our graduating classes down at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, you bring your education, you bring your experience onto the job, you bring whatever was in your upbringing, and then we provide a high level of training, but beyond that, then it becomes the individual's responsibilities, what you want to then make of a career.

You got to be positive, you got to be professional, you've got to have a good work ethic, and you have to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there to you, and not wait for them to come to. And so I encourage anybody that gets into the organization to go ahead and just continue to advance, be mobile, take the opportunities, take some risks, take some jobs that you think you may not be ready for, and it's amazing how quickly you might adapt to some of these challenges. Bt I think it's a great opportunity for people that want to come in and be part of a very significant and meaningful organization.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic advice. We've unfortunately reached the end of our hour. I want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule, but more importantly, Dave and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country over the past 30 years.

Mr. Ahern: Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you both very much.

Mr. Morales: Great.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Jay Ahern, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales, thank you for listening.

This has been The Business of Government Hour. Be sure to join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs, and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Until next week, it's businessofgovernment.org.

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