Admiral David G. Farragut once said, referring to Marines aboard Navy vessels, that a ship without Marines is like a coat without buttons. A similar sentiment could be expressed regarding our Department of the Navy civilian workforce.
In today’s climate of austere budgets, sequestration and furloughs for our civilian workforce, we spend a lot of time talking about where and how we’re going to spend – and not spend – our money. The technology, processes, hardware and software needed to accomplish the Navy IT mission evolve seemingly overnight. It takes a great deal of energy, focus and time to keep up with these ever-changing trends and practices.
This is further complicated by budget cuts. Reduced budgets affect our entire force, of course, but nowhere are those effects more profound than on our civilian workforce.
Too often, the contributions of these dedicated people who play a key role in keeping the department running and moving forward are not recognized as much as they should be. But these people and their work doesn’t go unnoticed; quite the contrary — we understand the value of the contributions our people make, and we know their skills and talents are in great demand. We realize that in many areas we cannot compete with salaries offered by the commercial sector, but even so, the Department of the Navy offers great job satisfaction. Our civilian workforce, which supports and works alongside our military members, is crucial to the important job of defending our country.
The value of the workforce is seen in the priority we place on training, and we must continue to defend the resources necessary to support training for our people. One of our biggest challenges going forward is developing solutions to train and retain our total cadre of cyberspace/IT professionals including civilians.
We’ve already taken steps with training by establishing policy for cyberspace/IT workforce continuous learning. The goal of this policy is twofold: (1) to improve cyberspace operations, cyberspace mission effectiveness and increase readiness across the cyberspace domain, and (2) to provide the vehicle for personal improvement supporting career development and specialized assignments. We’ve also published guidance for the operating system/computing environment certification process for our cyberspace workforce. These are important steps, but they are only the beginning. We must continue to do more to keep our workforce current with industry standards and best practices.
The department is its people, not only its ships, aircraft and computer equipment that support them. We have innovators and administrators, technicians and operators, thinkers and doers, all drawn together by one goal: to accomplish the Department of the Navy’s mission. Whether individually or part of a larger team, our civilian workforce is practicing what I like to call “ruthless improvement” of our processes. Already, our civilian workforce has developed game-changing strategies and contributed significantly to achieving the $2.5 billion dollars in business IT savings over the FYDP (future years defense program).
The accomplishments of our civilian workforce are much more than these and are far too numerous to list in this column, but this issue of CHIPS is devoted to the civilian cyberspace/IT workforce. This issue provides articles about and related to this workforce, resources in the form of information that the workforce will immediately be able to use, and it even provides information about a scholarship program to attain higher education. And finally, it highlights the hard work and achievements of this workforce who also proudly serves.
During this time of austere budgets and financial uncertainty ahead, I want each of you to know I appreciate you and all you do to support this great Department of the Navy.