11 August 2010

Changing Our Culture


After a year on station it is clear to me that, as I stated in my Guidance and Serials, one of the unintended consequences of focusing on cost reduction through the many “enterprise” efficiency initiatives we have undertaken over the last decade has been the placement of system cost above system performance in importance.

As a result, our priorities have become low cost, then schedule and lastly performance. This priority inversion has resulted in a culture where we are too willing to accept the delivery of substandard products (e.g. accepting starred cards as the norm and not the exception.)

My goal is to turn our priorities around by putting system performance back at the forefront. I’m not interested in engaging in a finger-pointing exercise – we are all part of the cultural problem that we have today. This will also not be an exercise where the Fleet recommends reinventing past organizations (e.g. PMS 400 for Aegis). Simply put, our effort is about doing what we can do today, within the authorities we have today, to ensure products delivered to the Fleet today perform to design specification.

It is about holding everyone accountable to established policy requirements and standards (see attached OPNAV Instruction). And finally, it is about taking many small steps to reach our goal because there is no “big-bang” solution – again, this is a cultural problem; so it is about setting standards, disciplined execution to those standards, and a willingness to “stay on it” over the long haul.

I need your help in fixing this cultural problem that we’ve allowed ourselves to develop. We simply can no longer allow products that do not perform to specification – ships, aircraft, submarines, systems or equipment – to enter our Fleet on our watch. All the best, JCHjr


Seaman Jimmy said...

The focus on reducing costs in the immediate has also encouraged ‘blindness’ to the reduction of costs over an extended period through careful and logical investment. The budget structure that promotes quarterly spending (use it or lose it) in lieu of a more flexible time frame inhibits innovations and intelligent spending as units husband resources in case of emergency during a normal period to a senseless (and arguably needless) spending spree prior to the end of the quarter.
I do not hold an MBA but this process seems incredibly wasteful and shortsighted. If you wait until the last minute to spend your training budget to train Seaman Jimmy then you waste valuable time holding onto an intelligent and enthusiastic sailor whom you refuse to offer any other training than a flawed NKO or OJT system.
Paying someone a base pay of 20 or more thousand dollars a year to spend extra time scraping paint rather than in the schools needed to make them ‘operationally useful’ is a waste not immediately seen on a budget spreadsheet. This is especially problematic for units deploying with most of their personnel untrained in the hopes that somehow they would be skilled enough to do their jobs by the time their platforms got onstation.
I think the poor training and decreasing skill sets of our most junior sailors speaks volumes about how this budget process is affecting the ability of our Navy to continue its’ core missions. Encourage the fifty pound brain types to review our budget allocation process to promote intelligent spending or Seaman Jimmy will man his station in a crisis and fail not only his shipmates in combat- but his nation as well.
Seaman Jimmy

Seaman Jimmy said...

Innovation is the key to reducing costs but there does not seem to be a venue to share and vet the ideas you hear thrown around the water cooler every day. This blog is a good forum but could we not create another anonymous ‘Idea-Bank’ for Navy-only bloggers to discuss a variety of topics. I am not talking about Facebook or the current government run Ideascale… we need one for the Navy alone that can be used on NMCI and is available to every Joe and Jimmy out there with a whizz-bang idea to make life better for us all.
A great example is an idea I heard on my last ship that would save hundreds of man hours for a modest investment- but it flies in the face of Navy tradition and our ‘NO CHANGE’ culture: equip a few sailors during sweepers with backpack vacuum cleaners to actually pick up dirt and debris (rather than pushing it around). A dyson-like industrial vacuum is not cheap but it is easy to use, clean, maintain and lasts a long time in severe conditions.
Another idea raised was to replace the use of unclassified printers in a facility to one or two ‘monitored’ devices that track who prints to them and keeps a log of use in order to reduce increasing paper and ink costs while also reducing the needless multitude of printers in each facility. Before the complaining of ‘inconvenience’ really begins you could also invest in a hundred dollar work station device that is designed and acts like a carry-anywhere reading pad (Kindle -minus the wireless and internet) but is geared towards our security requirements and meant to be used by more senior personnel who need to carry unclassified docs from one location to another.
There are literally thousands of cost saving efficiencies and innovations out there in the minds of our sailors that is untapped and deterred by our culture of ‘traditions’ vs. ‘change.’ Create a Navy wide forum and patch it into our R&D bubbas to help propel our water cooler fancies into reality.

V/r, Seaman Jimmy

Anonymous said...


I believe part of our "cultural" problem is that we are so protective our our directorate "rice bowls" that we are not just reluctant to share, but sometimes intentionally withhold info that would be helpful to other directorates. A step I think we can take immediately is:

Establish an interactive working group comprised of major directorates and set weekly goals that can easily solve problems that cross directorate lines. If we're all eating at the same table, I think we'll understand each other better.

Using your 80% approach, and after watching your HASC testimony, I think you have some great ideas that need to be developed by our staff, refined quickly, and implemented in the Fleet through teaching channels already in place. I think you surprised the Congressmen with your honesty and candor and I think that now that you have their attention, it would be a waste not to exercise your influence by changing things we have control over and working on solutions to things we do not. I don't believe in change just for the sake of change (been there, done that for 40 years affiliated with or IN the Navy), but I think change needs to start with USFF and trickle down quickly through the echelons to the deckplates. I would never have thought of using vacuum cleaners at "sweepers," but I have to admit, it sounds good to me. I'm also a believer that the only dumb question, is the one you don't ask. So, I think questioning our own motives objectively is a good start.

I'm only sorry that more members of our staff are missing out on this opportunity to express their opinions so that you can evaluate them. I'll be interested in seeing what happens on Monday at the All Hands Call. Should be enlightening for some of us. Cultural change is going to be our biggest obstacle. Once we've cleared it, you just may see Surface Force Maintenance Schedules, Qualifications, and Training that are on time, on budget, and in concert with the rest of the Navy's Air and Submarine Forces.

V/R, a proud member of your USFF team

Anonymous said...

Seaman Jimmy: As vile and as time-waisting as "chipping paint" may seem, it keeps your big grey boats from letting water into the people/machinery spaces and also saves you big bucks. I know that the Navy has reduced manning is a great thing, and letting contractors do all the messy dirty work is the smart way to go, but if more sailors were keeping an eye on corrosion, your ships wouldn't be crawling with so many of us yardbirds that many in the Navy despise. Silly you, we're the ONLY ones keeping you haze grey, under way and operational.

Don't get me wrong on this: it's how we make our living. The only problem I have with it is that you wait so long to address the problem that instead of a minor fix it's cofferdam time! No ship, even tied up to the pier, wants a steel box pumped dry by an eductor to be the only thing from keeping your ship from setting at the bottome of the harbor. Yet we do it time after time until it's a well-polished maneuver.

Old Yardbird

NVYGUNZ said...


I totally agree! I did read the instruction you attached from top to bottom. It definitely needs a refresher. However, most of it still applies. Since you were referring to accountability, I cut out a few things that stood out to me. Having commissioned a DDG a few years back, these were the areas that I experienced which need more attention and accountability. Although not very knowledgeable in the topic, I assume the LPD 21 class was less than desirable in these areas too. I will also assume then, that cost and timeline won over performance. This instruction also delineates who is in charge of these areas. Maybe we can focus there first. Hold those folks accountable. Ships are being built right now. I vote we start there, start tightening the screws and demand an outstanding product. We have another new ship-class (AMERICA) in the early stages of shipbuilding. Hate to see that one go sour too.

*Cut from Instruction:

6. Responsibilities.
a. Commander Naval Sea Systems Command (COMNAVSEASYSCOM)
(1) Act as, or designate a representative to act as; the Accepting Authority.
(3) Ensure that ships are delivered following the requirements of this instruction.
(6) Ensure that complete fitting out of the ship is accomplished as stated in paragraph 71.

m. Final Contract Trials (FCT) and Guarantee Materiel Inspection. These trials/inspections shall be scheduled and conducted as follows:
(2) The FCT will be conducted at sea. It shall include operations at full power and be of sufficient thoroughness to determine whether defects have developed since AT/UT.
(3) The GMI will be conducted in port to determine if contractor-responsible equipment has operated satisfactorily since CT and should be accomplished before PSA.
(4) Subsequent to an unsuccessful FCT, complete or partial retrials may be required as recommended by PRESINSURV and approved by CNO. Retrials will be limited to that which is necessary to ensure proper identification of construction/ conversion/modernization-related deficiencies, (government or contractor responsible) which should be corrected during PSA. Scheduling of the retrial date shall be coordinated by the Type Commander.

9. Waivers.
a. Waiver for conduct of trials with Significant Construction Deficiencies.
(1) COMNAVSEASYSCOM shall submit requests for waivers for conduct of trials with Significant Construction Deficiencies to CNO to arrive no later than seven working days prior to the date action is required. Distribution shall include PRESINSURV and appropriate Fleet and Type Commanders.

10. Status and Readiness of Commissioning.
g. Placing the ship ‘In commission will depend in each case upon the determination that the ship is ready in all respects to commence duty with the active fleet under reference (a). The commissioning date will be directed by CNO. The ship at this time will be in the following condition:
(1) Habitable for berthing and messing.
(2) Necessary firefighting, damage control and navigational equipment on board in operating condition.
(3) Command and control spaces and combat systems available to ship’s company for drill and emergencies.
(4) Storerooms, magazines, and magazine sprinkling systems, as required, ready for use.
(5) Propulsion and maneuvering equipment ready for use.


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

NVYGUNZ, thanks for your comments and your support for our approach - this is an "All Hands" effort, wherever you may be in the chain-of-command, and we need your active engagement.

Seaman Jimmy, to pile on with Old Yardbird's answer, when we put large structures made of steel in a seawater environment and keep them constantly exposed to wind-driven sea spray, CORROSION CONTROL is at the very heart of the proper maintenance of the entire ship and its embedded combat systems.
We took our eye off this probelm and are now behind the eightball, struggling to catch up. And that means more work for you and your shipmates and more work for Old Yardbird's company, too.
That's not the right way to do business because catching up costs big bucks and takes valuable time away from your other many duties so I'm trying to change that big-time.
The Improved Sweepers idea is TERRIFIC! I'm going to move on that one. I'm sure you have other good ideas so please keep them coming.
All the best, JCHjr

Anonymous said...

ADM Harvey: you might also want to tell your sailors that painting over rust does not make it go away; it just hides the rot. Scrape it and brush it to bare metal, prime, then paint. And if you get thin metal or a hole in a structural member, put the damn 2Kilo in!

Old Yardbird

Seaman Jimmy said...

I guess I should be more cautious when liberally applying expressions like 'chipping paint' as a metaphor for 'waste' in this crowd: How about 'playing Halo' rather than working in their rate as a more apt phrase? I definitely support paint/chipping to keep our hulls afloat.
I only meant to illustrate that if we want to save money then we should consider reviewing the process by which budgets are applied- especially in the areas of training our personnel prior to deployments. I think I should redress this issue with a new post to highlight my concerns.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point Seaman Jimmy to the Office of Naval Research TECHSOLUTIONS site which does exactly as he asked. It is a place for lower ranked sailors to post their bright ideas and have the technogeeks develop a solution for it. See site at https://www.onrglobal.navy.mil/techsolutions/aboutus.asp

Anonymous said...

Admiral.. Your serial 006 is a good start but it seems to miss the point behind why everyone on the waterfront thought FFC was established in the first place. Your serial only addresses the systems that are official and have managed to make it through the acquisition system (and still don't work!). However, you have not even hinted at how we get action on all the emergent needs based on new fleet roles and adversary changes. The bad guys are very adaptable and systems designed 10 years ago and finally make it to the fleet simply aren't good enough. Very often fleet sailors yell and scream that even if the current systems work perfectly, they don't meet the new threats but no one listens. If not FFC then who is supposed to advocate for new fleet needs that are not addressed by current systems? Isn't that FFC's job? It's important for things to work to spec but it is equally important to have an advocate for things we desperately need out here but are falling on deaf ears in DC. FFC needs to carry the water for the fleet.

Seaman Jimmy said...

Eh. I think that website is a great framework to launch a broader initiative in which we could collaborate and share innovations. The ONR website is not quite that robust... yet! I am thinking if we had a portal like the one at http://ideascale.com/ where we could work and talk across rates and the fleet (anonymously if preferred) then we could encourage more participation that the ONR site offers. Heck it would be even better if there was a CAC-card based Navy Blog site with hundreds of topics and areas to exploit in virtually any forum. Yeah it would garner lots o' needless bellyaching but that crud can be filtered out so the few diamonds could truly shine through. If the rest of the world can FB it up- we should figure a way to make that work for us (albeit more securely).
Seaman Jimmy

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

Anonymous, I think USFF is indeed carrying water for the Fleet, but we got very focused on everything BUT the here and now - there is an appropriate balance to our activities and the weight of our staff actions; I'm working to restore the balance in accordance with our Missions, Functions and Tasks direction from CNO. All the best, JCHjr

Anonymous said...

The first part of this blog post will be a lot of whys and the second part will be solutions.
Given your recent views on white water rapids, why is the Fleet, under your purview, being outfitted with new uniforms for combat once again? What is the reasoning? The new Navy Working Uniform II and III are camouflaged for the desert and “woodland” areas? Why did the Navy spend $80 million of the US Taxpayer dollars to come up with another uniform for a small community of less than 10,000. Doing simple math, that is about $8000.00 per sailor! Whatever the reason, did it ever cross the desks of Navy Leadership the reason why they needed yet another uniform?

With the many, many years of wear testing done by the services on current uniforms (Army ACU’s, Marine Corps MARPAT, Air Force ABU, and even the Coast Guard Operational Dress Uniform), with some proven in combat, why did the Navy need to create yet another set of camouflage? Is the culture that you speak of so entrenched and out of touch with taxpayer dollars that inter-service rivalry has taken over?

This all began with the flop, in my opinion with the NWU. I have heard time and time again about grease on a uniform. What is the problem at sea with a set of coveralls, for not only the enlisted crew, but the officers as well? Does rank on the collar and or cover not denote enough rank while underway? The NWU has zero camouflage while at sea, aboard a ship and zero while ashore unless at night. Was it too much to ask the Navy to wear camouflage uniforms at sea, so that in case of HADR and or land combat missions that whomever was going ashore was ready at all times? Readiness is more than training, it is about gear as well, and I consider the uniform to be gear.

Here are some solutions: Stop this new NWU II and III. Stop fielding the NWU and rescind the previous NAVADMIN delegating sailors from wearing it. Start the fielding of a singular camouflage uniform. In fact, you will be ahead of the game because in the NDAA for FY 2011, you will see the following passage on page 116 of the FY11 NDAA:

"Section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111–84) established that the design and fielding of all future ground combat and camouflage utility
uniforms of the armed forces may uniquely reflect the identity of the individual military services as long as such uniforms, to the
maximum extent possible, provide members of every military service an equivalent level of performance, functionality, and protection
commensurate with their respective assigned combat missions; minimize risk to the individual soldier, sailor, airman, or marine operating
in the joint battlespace; and provide interoperability with other components of individual war fighter systems,
including bodyarmor and other individual protective systems."

Next, field a uniform that has been wear tested in Afghanistan, the harshest of harsh areas. Field the Army ACU as a Navy Version with the multicam print without the Army patches and velcro, nametapes, or insignia. Add the "ACE" emblem. Have every sailor maintain 3 sets. While aboard ship, field coveralls as organizational clothing complete with nametapes and ballcaps. WHen the need arises to go ashore, have the sailors change into the NCU. Have the Navy Combat Uniform worn whenever the commander calls for it. If the Commander does not want to see the Navy Combat Uniform then, in a written order, do not allow its wear. As to the notion that this will make shipboard sailors look like soldiers, I say nonsense. Would someone say the same thing about Seabees or Hospital Corpsmen? The NWU is not a camouflage, it is a waste of money and resources. Bring the Navy into the 21st century of war fighting and change the culture of unifrom wear. I’m sure the sailor who will lug around 3 sets of camouflage uniforms will thank you. The simplest of things is often the right answer.

I am a Navy civilian, and I am crying nonsense over the NWU and the NWU II and III.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with the above post that the NWU's are completely flawed and poorly made. The Navy made a BIG mistake in rushing through to get this uniform complete and out to the fleet with many uniform deficiencies and not properly teaching Sailors how to wear it! Sailors have never had to "blouse" their trousers so I constantly see Sailors walking around with pants not bloused, or done incorrectly. Now we have a large group looking completely unprofessional. Not to mention that I have been on ship where some Sailors buy their uniforms too big for their body. Now we have someone looking messy since their shirt is hanging out because they bought one that is twice their size! and No one seems to care.

Like the Admiral said, the culture of the Navy has to change! For the enlisted this has to start at the boot camp level. The culture and discipline is not there. Its more of a rushed system. One example that I HATED was when I was getting my uniform, the civilians threw a uniform at me (was too big) and I tried to tell someone about it and I got yelled at. How can someone look sharp and professional in a uniform that doesnt fit properly? The Marine Corps ensures that during bootcamp, the recruit gets a properly fitted and hemmed uniform which in turn makes that Future Marine feel good about their uniform. gives them a bit more pride. The level of professionalism and discipline is not carried out in the Navy through A school and by the time they get to their first command, its hard to get them back.

The Marine Corps has a Leadership course for every rank that they have been selected for. Before they can wear that rank, they need to pass the course. These courses are great to learn leadership, continue the discipline and have them learn what to expect as they climb the ranks. I know the Navy has one similar to this, but personally its not as comprehensive and doesnt really teach me what I need to know my responsibilities a 2nd class and 1st class. Many CPO communities have started a great CPO induction program which is great, but some of those characteristics needed of a CPO have to instilled WAY before they actually make the rank of CPO! I personally think we need to take a look at the Marine Corps standards and try to form it to meet the needs of the Navy.

I can hear many people now reading this "WERE NOT THE MARINE CORPS!!!" But just take a look at their discipline, their sharp uniform appearance and professionalism. At work, a PFC will obey the order of a LCPL but in the navy, an E-2 will tell off an E-3 and nothing will happen. We think of E-3's and below as "nothing." An E-2 or E-3 does not even rate to wear their rank on thier NWU's or coveralls. Why? They earned that rank and are getting paid accordingly.

To sum up my rant, I completely support the ADM in a cultural change needs to happen...and how we can make that change happen is at the very FOUNDATION of our Navy. Once we change the mindset of the personnel in the Navy and take ownership of OUR ships and equipment and take pride in what we do then we can accept nothing less than excellence.

We need to get back to this famous quote: "I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'" - President John F. Kennedy (1963)

Anonymous said...


as I lay my head down for the night, I thought long and hard about my choice of words describing the NWU. I was the blogger who posted the FIRST rant about the NWU. I spoke out of turn by calling the NWU a "flop".

The NWU is not a "flop". The NWU is a uniform that the men and women of the US Navy wear proudly. While I do not agree with its appearance, it is not a "flop". Please do not connote my previous out of turn comment with my love of the US Navy.

It am just concerned that 80 million dollars was spent on the fielding of a new uniform when years and years of research and design into combat uniforms seems to have been brushed aside as an afterthought just to satisfy inter-service rivalry.

Aren't ships rusting and combat systems in need of upgrade and or repair?

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

Anonymous, thanks for your updated post re uniforms - I don't respond to "rants", but I will always respond (or try my best to) to a thoughtful post.
Having come in as CNP just when ADM Mullen, as CNO, made the final decision to go forward with the uniform initiatives begun when ADM Clark was CNO, I can tell you that research was not brushed aside by some form of inter-service rivalry. It just didn't happen that way.
Now, the one thing about any change to any uniform or any uniform policy is that it brings forth extraordinary emotions at every level of the chain of command (ex, your rant above!).
I can't do anything about the visceral response to uniform policy changes, but I can urge you to get to Great Lakes where we are now outfitting almost 40,000 new Sailors a year with their NWUs. These new Sailors wear their uniforms proudly and constantly. And, over time, as our new Sailors become our "not-so-new" Sailors, the broad acceptance of our NWU uniforms will continue to grow as I see it growing today, afloat and ashore.
All the best, JCHjr

Anonymous said...

The here and now is exactly what we need FFC to worry about but 'here and now' we are assigned missions and are told to accomplish them with older systems that were not designed for this current threat. Granted that some systems do not even work well for the threat they were designed against 10-15 years ago but the current missions need current systems. We need to be as adaptable as our adversaries and right now the Navy is not even close. If FFC is carrying the fleet's water then we are in even worse shape because it seems OPNAV isn't listening to FFC either. After three deployments, increased threat but same old systems we complained were inadequate eight years ago.

Anonymous said...

Going back to your original thoughts of changing the culture and not accepting poor performing equipment. Has there been any thought to perhaps using a Decom asset, say a Flt one CG-47, as an East Coast test platform? You could demand a new proposed system be placed on it and do some at-sea testing like we did in the olden days? Man the ship w/ contractor support to meet the minimum safe underway requirements which would be less rigourous than a ship preparing for extended at sea Ops. Use R&D funding because it would be an R&D aseet to prove concepts/equipment before buying and fielding a new system. It's something within the capabilities of here & now with long term benefits after initial startup. A second suggestion in cost reductions is to review staff manning of government services. How many have an actual impact on keeping our ships at sea and operational? How much redundancy of billets are there through the various echelons of your commands? There are plenty of capable contractor retirees (GS & military) that can fill positions for finite timeframes and are easy to stop using and require no long term financial funding (retirements/pensions) that impact follow-on budgets. We should break the culture of thinking that only a government service person can fill a government job. Frankly, contractor costs have always been cheaper & easier to utilize, especially if they don't measure up or that billet is no longer required. You set the acceptable cost and experience not a union and it will be filled.
Just some thoughts...many will disagree.
Retired 0-6

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, contractors contribute to (though do not cause) government brain-drain that will cost DoD in the long run.

While short term contractors are a way to stop gap a billet and person to fill that billet, the stop gap easy-to-fill solution created a behemoth contractor workforce. Now we have a Navy, in my opinion, that is addicted to reservist COW funding that is drying up, and now perhaps contractor funding that is drying up, and it takes quite a while to hire a DoD civilian to fill the billet or get an AD person in.

Some solutions are:
-Hire DoD civilians at medium grade level GS-9-11 to do 9-11 work (LT-LCDR level work that a mil person could do, but does not NEED to do-e.g. Training)
-Hire contractors for office work: work that is not inherently governmental.
-Move more military members into supervisory positions over civilians and contractors and hold them accountable for their own growth as well as the growth of those under them (to the extent of the law and contract for contractors)
Hire some Senior level, recently retired personnel for 1-2 year projects like fixing BMD, Aegis, etc, but not for years and years--Fix the problem, perform the contract, bring the gov up to speed and then get out.
-reclassify senior AD billets from CAPT to a CDR.
-Navy wide (reserve and AD) drawdown amount of CAPTs and E-9s
-Get rid of deadwood civilians and military, both enlisted and officer. Cancel poor contracts
-Don't be afraid to show people the door-either in or out.

I believe that there needs to be a mix of contractors, civilians and military, but over the years, as evidence by the recent JFCOM phenomena, too many contractors were/are doing gov work, like policy work-the arena where a recently retired 0-6 might thrive. It is quite simple: the company is is retaining the knowledge and expertise, not the institution of the Navy.

Hiring a contractor is not the right thing to do-every single time-a new idea or concept comes to fruition to study and experiment with.

The contractor workforce should be used sparingly to do what they were designed to do: assist the government with its expertise, not keep it.