In the last 4 decades, I spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and then climbed the ranks of Civil Service as a federal government employee. I have cultivated strong business acumen, and am equally comfortable and confident managing the financial, human capital, and technological aspects of my work. As I have served in a broad range of leadership positions, my appreciation for the public I ultimately serve has continually grown, as well. To be as effective as possible in my roles, and to better serve that public, I have taken a number of professional training courses that have enhanced my corporate and business instincts.
For example, I possess an undergraduate degree in Business Management and have attended the Management Development Course at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Eastern Region Development Center; the George Washington University SES Development Program; Employee and Labor Relations Course; and EEO Counselor Course. Further, I am a certified Human Resources (HR) professional by the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA).
In 2012, I was serving as the Deputy Director, Office of Financial and Administrative Management (FAM), which manages the Department of Energy’s HR management, financial management, contracting, facilities, security, travel, and support services management programs. I was also the Deputy Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Senior Contracting Officer, managing a $42M budget annually. In this capacity, I was challenged to ensure timely and accurate budget formulation and submission to OPM during closeout of prior-year procurement activities. Previously, these two activities were somewhat autonomous, but I actively involved and engaged Office Directors, Administrative Officers, and managers in the overall budget formulation process to clearly identify all funding requirements.
My situation was daunting. First, since end-of-year closeouts were taking place, managers did not want to be involved in the justification or formulation process. The agency was also seeking an increase in funding for mission-critical activities, including: federal employee case adjudications, human capital surveys, and mediation activities that are the core function of the agency, as mandated by statute. If I did not properly justify the budget and funding requirements, we ran the risk of being denied funding for these Congressionally mandated programs. In addition, the agency was in the middle of lease negotiations for two separate facilities that were due to expire within six months. If those leases were not renewed, the agency would have to spend $500K to move equipment, furniture, and employees to a new facility.
To ensure Administrative Officers received the financial, procurement, contracting, and administrative support they desperately needed during this critical period, I organized and chaired a monthly Administrative Officers’ meeting to facilitate the free flow of information and synchronize efforts with geographically separated offices to provide efficient and responsive financial customer service. Collaborating extensively with the budget, contracting, and procurement officers, I established policies and procedures to ensure proper fiscal controls. To enforce compliance and progress, I directed internal control audits for all program areas to identify fraud, waste, or abuse involving the agency’s contracting, procurement, travel, purchase card, and transit subsidy programs. During these audits, I identified weaknesses in two program areas and directed immediate corrective action, including certification of training for Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives (COTRs).
I met with Congressional staffers to explain, defend, and otherwise respond to questions regarding the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget and the agency’s future financial needs. As a result, I obtained the full $45M in FY 2011 funding for agency programs and secured lease renewals for the two existing facilities, saving the agency $500K.
I fully appreciate the valuable human capital provided by individual members of the federal workforce and consistently strive to recruit, hire, train, groom, and develop skilled professionals with the needed skills and specialized experience. I was promoted to GS-15 in 2013 as Director of HR for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Surface Transportation Board. My challenge was to provide the full range of HR services with limited staff and budgetary resources. I needed a new strategy for HR service delivery, and since 58% of the organization’s employees were eligible for immediate retirement (within 90 days), I set out to devise a strategy that incorporated specific plans to handle this potentially devastating loss of institutional knowledge.
I began by meeting with the key stakeholders to identify Mission Critical Occupations and the skill sets they needed to achieve organizational goals, then conducted a skills gap analysis based on the agency’s Mission Critical Occupations, as defined by the stakeholders, to identify positions the agency needed to fill immediately. My strategy also included a mentoring program for employees already on board, which provided retraining opportunities and ensured continuity of operations. At the same time, I established rotational assignments for current employees and identified the training needs required to fill the gaps left from projected vacancies. Recognizing the potential for the immediate departure of the most seasoned HR Specialist in the agency, I quickly recruited and identified two highly qualified HR specialists to fill the void that would have been created had the Senior HR Specialist left prematurely.
As a direct result of my human capital management: a) the agency provided a bridge between new employees and retiring employees to avoid the “brain drain” and loss of continuity associated with numerous retirements in a very short timeframe; b) offices were empowered to quickly recruit and identify new talent and bring them on board within 60 days; c) we provided training opportunities to current and new employees, maximizing current human capital resources while providing employees with developmental opportunities within the agency; d) employee retention increased by 25%; and e) based on the results of the next annual organizational assessment, productivity increased throughout the organization by 35%. Due to the positive human capital changes I made, 40% of those eligible for retirement decided to remain with the agency, received rotational assignments, and were often placed in new mission-critical positions based on their backgrounds identified during the skills gap analysis. Likewise, external candidates were identified, hired, and brought on board in a timely manner, allowing the agency to continue uninterrupted operations in all program areas. The long-term impacts were in salvaging corporate knowledge, executing a planned strategy that ensured a seamless transfer of information between employees, and empowering the agency to perform its mandated mission without degradation of services to the American public.
During this same period, the General Counsel wanted a means to advertise positions to a wide audience of potential candidates, to quickly evaluate and identify applicants for attorney positions, and to maintain communication with them throughout the process. Moreover, she wanted to accomplish all of this without dedicating members of her staff on a full-time basis to evaluate applicants. Working with the CIO and her team, I directed the development of an electronic application tracking and routing system to provide members of the General Counsel’s Office immediate access to applications when they were received. Additionally, the system would automatically send an email to the applicant once his/her application was received and would notify potential applicants electronically when their application was reviewed by members of the General Counsel’s Office. I developed specific timelines for deliverables, and met with the Information Technology (IT) Specialist on a weekly basis to ensure all milestones were met.
Once the system was implemented, I evaluated and validated the results of the new application process by developing an electronic applicant survey. The attorney application process time was reduced from days using the paper application process to hours using the electronic application process. The overall review process was reduced by 50% down from 60 days to 30 days maximum. The new attorneys were all selected and entered on duty within 90 days, helping the General Counsel to quickly eliminate the case backlog and provide prompt responses to individuals seeking relief from the Board. Applicants received immediate feedback from their initial application, and 85% of applicants surveyed indicated that the new application process was one of the easiest they had ever encountered.