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Speak up!

Posted November 15, 2011

“The skeptic says, ‘Come on, why should I do this? This is hard. I'm tired. Can't I just go on being the way I am?’" … I think the real risk for a lot of people in the defense air and  space community right now is they're going to serve out their careers and at the end of that time, they're really, if they're honest, going to have to say, ‘All we did was manage the decline of this mighty business because we couldn't think of a new way to do things. And we may have managed that decline gracefully, and skillfully and professionally. But don't fool yourself. All you did was manage decline. That's not much of a legacy.’” 
   – Dr. James P. Womack, one of the founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute

This week the President signed an Executive Order for “Promoting Efficient Spending.” In summary it says we must reduce our spending to 20 percent below Fiscal Year 2010 levels in certain areas: travel, information technology devices, printing, vehicles and promotional items.  I know most folks will only hear about this second or third-hand, so I encourage you to go read the three pages for yourself.  You can find it online at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/09/executive-order-promoting-efficient-spending

A 20 percent reduction below what we spent in 2010 is quite a bit, but by nature, I am a realistic optimist.  Things are rarely as bad or as hard as they first seem, and given half a chance, I believe we can improve decisions by working problems together.  When I asked in an earlier blog whether we could spend our time better by discussing whether we need a particular “gauge” and what it is really telling us, rather than arguing over formatting of a dashboard, I did that because I believe in NAWCAD’s inventiveness and your understanding of our mission. Like many of you, over my career I’ve seen fads come and go.  I’ve been “templated,” “re-engineered,” “branded,” “AIRSpeeded,” “tooth-to-tailed,” etc.  A skeptic would say the only certainty is when the front office changes there will be a new idea for improving what we do and how we do it.

To meet the 20 percent reduction we don’t need a new management fad. I believe that in the end anything good that came from these prior efforts -  and make no mistake, many good things were accomplished - came when folks really doing the work wanted to improve what we do because of your professional pride in what and how you do it.

So, what are your suggestions to help us deliver the 20 percent savings in areas the President has directed?  My only request is that suggestions needs to be implementable within NAWCAD. How do you think we can travel less, turn in some of our personal information technology equipment, reduce our printing costs, reduce our vehicle requirements, and make better choices on using promotional items? I’m looking for direction from you to help all of us do this smartly. We’re going to do the best we can to make the right decisions, but with your help and feedback I’m sure we can do it with fewer unintended negative consequences.

NAWCAD teammates, we’ve got work to do. I am asking you to use this opportunity to cut through the levels of management and get your ideas in directly to the front office.  Whether you are military, government civilian, a supporting contractor or one of the many folks residing in the communities near our bases, speak up, we’re listening.

Dr. Womack concluded the article I quoted from above with “Build something that's new, different, better. You get to the end of your watch and you say, ‘My gosh, what we accomplished.’ That's different, and that's worth the effort.”

– RM

2 Comments, Please review our Feedback Guidelines.

Commander said


NAVAIR leadership has recently reviewed policies for hosting or attending a conference. Everyone should understand the intent will be to reduce the number of NAVAIR hosted conferences, and also the number of NAVAIR travelers going to conferences. There are some gray areas in the definition of a 'conference', so it is best to be conservative and seek out the NAWCAD Legal folks if you need an interpretation about whether what you would like to host or attend is a 'conference', or not. Also, there is now a requirement for anyone traveling to a conference to complete a cost analysis form, print out same, and attach to their travel request. This is in addition to the statement of why travel is required in lieu of other attendance method (VTC, telecom), and whether participation meets the usual guidance for federal employees. This should improve our ability to be aware, as you suggest. VADM Architzel is directing that we closely review the need for both hosting and attending conferences, as we continue to be good stewards of the budget entrusted to our execution.


December 13, 2011 at 8:33:17 AM EST

Janet Sutton said

We need to be able to get a report prior to a major conference such as ITEA, ITSEC, TAILHOOK, etc. that can tell us who, from NAWCAD is attending. If we have that information than Leadership can determine proactively how many individuals they, as a Command, want to send to these events. Right now, I do not believe there is a report out there that will provide that information. I think we can only get it after the fact. As an individual who approves travel/training requests, I can track who I am approving in my own little universe but I don't know how many people outside my Division may be going.

November 18, 2011 at 2:06:35 PM EST


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Rear Adm. Randy Mahr

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