Thursday, June 20, 2013

Saying 'thank you' to our retirees

Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to welcome everyone today to the Norfolk District Retiree Appreciation Breakfast.  But before I begin, I’d like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to those responsible for this important event.  Let’s all recognize Sherri Jefferies and Nora Batten for today’s program with a big round of applause.

Before we attack these donuts, I'd like you to take a moment to look at each other ...

Who served our Corps during the Vietnam War?  Who served our Corps during the Cold War?  Who served during Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti? Who served during the Global War on Terror?

Clearly, America is stronger because of the service and sacrifice of you, our veterans and military retirees.  You are admired, you are respected, and above all, you are important.   And today, as our District faces modern challenges, the linkage between today’s military and you, our venerated retired District members, has never been more important. And for those of us now serving in uniform, we are reminded that you continue to serve our “Army Strong Team” both as experienced coaches and as a “bullpen” of role models.

The Norfolk District is honored by your presence here today.

We are equally fortunate that you chose to continue your lifelong Corps of Engineers association as part of this community, and make no mistake – Norfolk District is your community, too!  We encourage your ideas and participation in your community via forums, celebrations, and events like this. Events like today sustain and strengthen the bond between our Corps, our retirees, and our veterans, as well as with our local communities. 
Thanks for joining us.  Thanks for your service to our Nation, and thanks for your continued support as a respected and important member of the Norfolk District Family.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Defining priorities, moving forward

It's hard to believe, but it's been five months since I took command here at Norfolk District. There's been a lot to do in that time. I've been busy learning about our projects at Arlington National Cemetery, our ongoing military construction work at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, visiting our employees at the Gathright Dam project learning about our regulatory mission throughout the Commonwealth, and meeting with a variety of stakeholders and partners.

On the personal side, I've also been adjusting to a role that's familiar to many Americans throughout the country - spouse of a deployed military member. That's right, being both mother and father to three children while their military mom is deployed brings with it an entirely different set of challenges.

However, I'm proud to say that I'm now a comfortable resident of Poquoson,Va. and really enjoying getting to know that community even as I get to know our District employees and people in the various communities
throughout Virginia.

I've learned a lot in the past five months and had a chance to focus some District energy on defining our priorities, our processes and executive oversight. I discussed those with employees during a Town Hall meeting here Aug. 15.

As you review the slides, you'll see that we kicked things off with some employee recognition. There's nothing I enjoy more as a commander than saying "thank you" to employees who demonstrate the best of Army values while providing the type of dedicated federal service that Americans deserve. Well done to all who were recognized last week!

After that, we quickly got down to business by discussing the District's "Systems Approach," our project management business process "helix" and the project roadmap we're building to ensure every project manager has access to the gold-standard products and process guidance. We're making a vidoe to explain these tools, but all of these are focused on ensuring the District is doing what it says it will do -- and doing it right -- every time.

The Town Hall also gave me an opportunity to discuss the results of the latest District employee climate survey, and to entertain questions from those attending in person and remotely from around Virginia. We answered several questions last week, but also received many by email from remote viewers. I've included one of those questions below and will continue to use this forum to answer questions of broad interest to both employees and the public.

As always, there's more to be done, so I encourage all of you to enjoy the end of summer safely and, as we prepare to welcome fall, be alert for children (of all ages) headed back to school.

My Best!
COL Paul Olsen


Question: Why does the Corps still use its own financial management system instead of implementing the Automated Time, Attendance and Production System (ATAPS) and Defense Travel System (DTS) used by the military services?

Answer:  Admittedly, the user interface of the Corps of Engineers Financial Management System (CEFMS) leaves a lot to be desired, but our chief of resource management, Mark Camsky, tells me that it's the only major Defense Department automated financial management system that's consistently passed the Chief Financial Officer's Act audits that are required annually. Behind the scenes (and the user interface) CEFMS generates all the reports and accounting ledgers required to pass the audits. Additionally, the Corps has unique Civil Works appropriations that no other agency uses, so no other DoD system properly updates the files needed for upward reporting of Civil Works data to higher commands.