CAPT. MARK MURPHY, SC, USN and LT. CMDR. MAXINE GARDNER, SC, USN, OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS (N41)
The Navy’s definition of diversity focuses on the physical aspects of a workforce and ensuring diverse experience, background, and ideas with a goal of achieving peak performance and outcomes. This summer, a broad team representing nearly every walk of the Navy community came together to look at how ships conduct port visits, and how to improve the process. Led by Rear Adm. Grafton D. “Chip” Chase, Task Force Navy Operational Commanders Support leveraged Fleet Supply, Naval Supply Systems Command Contracting, Office of Financial Operations Auditing, and Naval Education and Training Command’s training expertise to apply a holistic approach in creation and implementation of a revised commercial port visit process. The improvements built on a series of efforts begun at the Fleet level to achieve auditability, strengthen contractual terms, and minimize risk of exploitation by unscrupulous actors. In addition, the revised process emphasizes port visit planning and execution as commander’s business and an all-hands ship evolution.
Over the course of Navy history, planning and execution of logistics support during port visits was attributed to and, at times, focused solely on the business relationship between the Supply Officer (SUPPO), Supply Department Team and the husbanding service provider (HSP). This truly ship-centric process, initiated by the SUPPO with a request for goods and services logistics requirement (LOGREQ) was forwarded to vendors with little oversight and coordination with third parties.
The new process still utilizes the LOGREQ, but now leverages upon requirements for business process separation of duties and engages contracting officers at our Fleet Logistics Centers to produce vendor task orders from negotiated, fixed-price contracts based on established, standardized needs of Navy and Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships. The ship’s role now encompasses execution of the port visit by way of receiving support and properly documenting (circle, sign and date) the services received. Following the port visit, contracting officer representatives (CORs) assigned to the numbered Fleets and MSC then ensure proper document execution and reconciliation of invoices, task orders and the ship’s DD250. Once reconciled and approved, the documentation is certified for vendor payment by Type Commander and MSC comptrollers. This new process creates full separation of functions, proper checks and balances, and is in compliance with the Navy’s Financial Improvement Audit Readiness requirements. In addition, this collaborative effort ensures the ship receives the highest level of support while fostering greater communication and understanding between the Navy’s warfighters and those in supporting roles.
The new process, with official ‘Go Live’ on Oct. 1, 2015, is the culmination of several years of effort by many stakeholders and the emergence of information technology systems that move much of the interaction between the Navy and the HSPs off the ship, including Off-Ship Bill Pay (OSBP). In addition, a Task Force goal was to strengthen the knowledge of officers and Sailors Navy-wide (including all designators and rates) on proper receipt and documentation of services rendered during port visits. Due to the understanding that this process touches so many levels of the Navy, it was important to assemble a Task Force and stakeholder network incorporating diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds to build a sustainable, repeatable model. The assemblage of this allencompassing team and the collaboration it produced created buy-in across the Fleet and throughout the Navy while unlocking innovative solutions to establish a robust system for risk mitigation within the HSP process.
The efforts by all in this worthy endeavor are a great example of the Navy Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Vision:
A Navy that harnesses the teamwork and imagination of a technically proficient workforce that is diverse in experience, background, and ideas.
Today and in the decades to come, ready Sailors and civilians will remain the centerpiece of Navy’s warfighting capability. To maintain our warfighting edge, it is essential that our people be diverse in experience, background and ideas; personally and professionally ready; and proficient in the operation of their weapons and systems. Diversity is not founded on statistics, percentages, or quotas. Diversity is about achieving peak performance. The Navy draws upon the widest possible set of talents and backgrounds to maximize our warfighting capability, adapt to address new challenges, and take advantage of new opportunities. And that is exactly the mantra used by the HSP Team. The unique skills of each Sailor and civilian in development of this new business process added value to our Navy, and all should be justifiably proud of their efforts. The list below, while possibly not all-inclusive, gives a perspective of the engagement and cross-cutting skill levels it took to develop and implement this process:
- Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller)
- Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy Office of Financial Operations
- Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV)
- Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command
- Commander, Pacific Fleet
- Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP)
- Commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
- Commander, Naval Education and Training Command
- Commanders of Task Force 80, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleets
- Commander, Military Sealift Command
- Commander, NAVSUP Global Logistics Support
- President, Naval War College
- Defense Finance and Accounting Service
- Commander, Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- Commanding Officers of the Fleet Logistics Centers
The combining of the skill sets, business acumen and leadership of staff members from the above organizations and the crews of USS and USNS now executing the HSP/OSBP process is truly remarkable when you realize that efforts begun less than two years ago are now being implemented Fleet-wide. There is still much to do to ensure the new process does not negatively impact USS and USNS operations, and representatives from the above organizations continue to meet on a monthly basis (at a 4-Star level) to work through issues, document lessons learned, and continue to refine processes and incorporate metrics.
As the formal Task Force transitions on the OPNAV staff to a primary office of responsibility and we have the opportunity to reflect on what it took to accomplish this endeavor, it is evident that diversity was a critical component in our success. Without the diversity and required synchronization of the organizations and members involved, the rapid employment of the new process would not have been possible. The partnership of a multitude of skill sets including contracting, finance, manning, training, information technology, and Fleet logistics was instrumental to the success of the Task Force and clearly proved what a truly harnessed, wide breath of talent, and cross-functional team approach can do in a relatively short period of time. As the Navy moves into the future, the most innovative ideas that will generate leaps forward in warfighting and operational concepts need this exact type of collaborative, diverse thinking.