28 April 2010

USS OAK HILL (LSD 51) Visit Follow-up


At the beginning of March, I posted a thread on my visit to the USS OAK HILL (LSD 51). After reading a post on a private forum regarding issues associated with an administrative program - Relational Administrative Data Management (R-ADM) –I asked if there was a ship that would like to host me, give me a “day in the life of a JO,” and walk me through some of the administrative programs we currently use on our ships.

USS OAK HILL answered my request and the crew candidly presented the goods, bads, and others on many of the administrative programs they use each day to get the job done.

Since my visit to the USS OAK HILL, I have visited other units and discussed the topic directly with my Type Commanders. I wanted to provide you some of what I have learned.

First, Navy does a very good job of ensuring our networks are resourced, maintained, and secure, but we do not do a very good job of ensuring the applications that run on our networks are fully effective and well-maintained over time. This problem is primarily due to insufficient governance across the many entities associated with the wide variety of Navy applications running on our networks.

For example, when a developer wants to submit an application to be sold on Apple’s iTunes store, it is first sent to a single organization within Apple where it is closely scrutinized to ensure it meets strict stability, usability, and content standards. Only after the application receives certification from Apple can it then be sold to iPhone and iPad users. Although this level of governance does not allow for rapid application deployment, it does ensure all applications meet Apple’s very high standards. After all, Apple knows their customers have other choices they can make.

Navy has a similar governance model for our networks - a single organization that is responsible for the funding and integration of everything network related (OPNAV N2/N6), and one organization that is responsible for network maintenance and security (CYBERFOR).

For applications, Navy’s governance model is much more diffuse, and therefore less effective. Navy’s on-line tools and applications are developed and funded by multiple organizations. Although there is single accountability for an application’s network certification (SPAWAR Systems Command), there are multiple organizations responsible for determining its effectiveness (Functional Area Managers, Type Commanders, etc) and often no organization ensures that their particular application is upgraded as required or replaced down the road.

So what am I doing about it? First, I am going to stay at this. Based on the feedback I’ve received and what I’ve observed, the processes by which we deploy, sustain, and replace the administrative tools in our Fleet are not adequate. I just released my Fleet Sustainment Serial to my Commander’s Guidance that directed each of my Type Commanders to look at their units and identify the on-line applications that need immediate attention. I will also work to establish a far more robust governance model to ensure that the applications meet the quality standards our Fleet requires and that there is a sustainment/replacement plan in place that is fully funded to ensure our tools remain effective.

I would like my next “educational” visit to be to an aviation squadron so I can get a thorough look at all the administrative and maintenance support programs now in use by the aviation community. Any squadron that would like to volunteer (for ease of travel, I’d prefer Norfolk or Oceana), please contact me via my Blog or at (757) 836-3660. All the best, JCHjr


YN2(SW) Battle Yeoman said...


I've been thinking a lot about what new tools we might need in the Navy, where we can improve ourselves to reduce our churn and increase output. It occurs to me that we may not actually need anything new. Rather, what we need is less of the things that cause churn. Simply keep what works (even if imperfect), and rid ourselves of what doesn't work. The strongest trees always survive the forest fire.

In four years in the Navy, I've never seen a bad idea go away.

YN2(SW) Battle Yeoman

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

Battle Yeoman, we will be doing a "controlled burn" of staffs, programs and processes to get rid of those entities, policies and processes that simply do not add real value to our ability to deploy ready forces - should be a very interesting next couple of years. Stay tuned! All the best, JCHjr

xformed said...

I submitted a MILCAP in 1990 the described a coordinated approach to the management of administration (who knows if it's still around...most likely not, but...), at the time heavily centered on who was qualified to do what, yet tied in many of the other items that sucked real time away - things like keeping up with instructions and pub changes, technical and tactical libraries and required reading lists.

I had been fiddling with the idea and had the layout of the connections hanging on the bulkhead in my stateroom in 1988. After the IOWA, I began to code it, particularly when I had to routinely follow CNSL guidance on my inspections, then I'd walk the halls of CNSL and
1) get bitched at for the fails, while I
2) was telling the N6s ppl to get the paperwork fixed, so as to not burden the crews. 5 year fight in the long run, a lot of resistance, but adoption of the idea at the end of that tunnel.

MILCAP went to the NAVMASSO guys, who had done SNAP since Jesus was a mess cook. At first they welcomed a deckplate perspective, until they got funding for SNAP III, then they quit talking. My take: A rice bowl. OTOH, they were applying 20 year old ideas (we're talking mid-90s) to the minimum manned fleet, and the inspection teams hammered the crews for using their product outputs, so they went back to paper. Net result: Lots of frustration and wasted energy in trying to get things done where it counted. Better: 120 ships had something they only needed a Z-248 for....


xformed said...

I had a map of the many databases about the system that could feed the system, from the CANTRAC, to the CNSL MTP to the ODCR and EDVRs to class convening, to NEC lists to travel regs and costs, to PQS, to merely touch on a few.

No one seemed interested in connecting the 1s and 0s laying all about, so the Watch, Quarter and Station Bill could be auto-generated for review by leadership and tweaked into place for the CO/crew. Even took a peek at how this could all feed the CNO weekly for readiness via the then existing data paths. All other services at the time could tell how ready they were....we couldn't answer that with more that subjective language.

Just how much time saved, with a comprehensive plan, could be plowed back into training and maintenance?

In most cases, it was merely putting existing processes together by providing an electronic connection. Many processes, at their core, were well thought out, and could be done with paper and pencil, but they had never been cleaned up and connected.

In the last few weeks of my AD, flew to P'Cola and turned over all my files. They had called a meeting of Surface, sub and aviation administrative programming experts (all civilians) together I had no idea about, but they ushered me in as the speaker. I said we could do the same for all communities with a little bit of thinking: A trained and qualified operator is just that. Just connect the dots on how NATOPS/PQS/the sub hybrid thing worked as the entry point and the rest of the process was the same. Oh, they did not like that at all...

Thought after walking out of that room: Few want to be the unnamed member of a Super Bowl team, but the majority would stay as the High School Team QB, just to keep their name in lights.

How different can it be these 14 years later? I'd hope a lot, but it doesn't sound like it.

Most of what I worked with had been developed (well thought out and initially planned, I might add, I found the first version of the PQS Mgt Guide!) as the fall out of the disasters both on ships and CVs during the VN era. Sprinkle in a dose of Rickover and we get EOSS/EOCC/CSOSS and PQS/JQRs, all of which worked, until every investigation thought the fix was to make a new PQS for deck swabber. The process wasn't broken, it was the misunderstood demands on them that made them untenable.

Yes, it's a passion of mine, but I strongly disagreed (disagree in the present tense fro the outside) with how the sailor on the deck plates was saddled with excessive paperwork, because someone on a staff wanted an easy fix, and failed to consider the impact. SWOS was more interested in knowing a DO could make the correct entry on a PQS chart, than if they could use the PQS program to plan the training path of a CIC Watch Sup or EOOW to reflect the nature of the rotational system used to man ships.

Big job ahead. I worked it. I had some success, better yet, I know there were sailors who got more training and less paperwork.

My 2 (inflated over time) cents...