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									                                                                                                                June 2009


           ‘Stay the course’: Rear Adm. Rábago Lays out the ‘Track Lines’ as
                        Assistant Commandant for Acquisition
                                                    By Hunter Keeter

A   s the Coast Guard Acquisition
    Directorate approaches its third
anniversary, Delivering the Goods
had the opportunity to sit down with
Rear Adm. Ronald J. Rábago to get
his perspective on acquisition reform,
modernization and the business of
recapitalizing the Coast Guard.

Rábago is a naval engineer who has
worked in the acquisition community
since January 2007, when the
Commandant detailed him as Program
Executive Officer (PEO) for Deepwater.
He then transitioned to be the PEO and
Director of Acquisition Programs in the
newly created Acquisition Directorate.

Coming from an engineering and
program management background,
                                           On June 17th, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen presented Rear Adm.
where direct interface with industry
                                           Ronald J. Rábago with his second star. Rábago is the Assistant Commandant for Acquisi-
and with stakeholders was the order
of the day, Rábago brings a wealth         tion, charged with managing the service’s $27 billion materiel modernization investment
of experience in complex problem           portfolio, which includes more than 20 major projects. U.S. Coast Guard photo
solving to his new role as Assistant
Commandant for Acquisition.                reform. How has the Acquisition             sition reform to [a model of] continu-
                                           Directorate embraced this concept?          ous improvement. The Commandant
He told Delivering the Goods that his                                                  directed that the Coast Guard needed
vision for the directorate included “no    Rear Adm. Rábago: The Acquisition           to be more integrated before we could
dramatic course changes” as he takes       Directorate (CG-9) certainly was            take on the task of managing complex
over the reins from Rear Adm. Gary T.      created out of necessity. By merging        acquisitions like Deepwater and recap-
Blore. Rábago would instead “build on      the Deepwater (G-D) organization            italize the Coast Guard. Collectively, I
the work that has been done before,”       and the legacy Acquisition Directorate      believe we have answered that order.
emphasizing the importance of people       (G-A), we have combined the two such
to the organization’s success and the      that CG-9 is now greater than the sum       DTG: Developing and integrating
need to institutionalize lessons learned   of the parts.                               well-defined policies and processes
to strengthen and continue to improve                                                                        continued on page 2
the Coast Guard’s acquisition business     DTG: Since the consolidation of
processes.                                 G-D with G-A, how has the business

******
                                           culture in the Acquisition Directorate
                                           evolved?                                       inside:
Delivering the Goods: Admiral,             Rábago: We have created a robust,
change is a key concept for Coast          process-driven     and    accountable          Research and Development Center
Guard modernization in general and         acquisition organization. Now I want           Celebrates Move to New Facility..p3
also for the process of acquisition        to build on that and move from acqui-

   Mission execution begins here.                                            www.uscg.mil/acquisition
  D e l i v e r i n g t h e G oods: News from U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition                                         Vol: 18, page 2
continued from page 1
was a key feature of the reform effort         people have demonstrated their ability         of the team that continue to gain
that began with the creation of the            to do great things. All leaders face the       experience in a variety of different
Acquisition Directorate in July 2007. Is       problems of insufficient resources in           ways. It requires a dedicated cadre
that still an important focus?                 terms of personnel and money. With             of military and civilian professionals,
                                               an organization of this complexity,            working closely together as a team
Rábago: That is what all of us                 working through the process of                 for our acquisition enterprise to be
have been working on – improving               integrating and prioritizing all the           successful. So I envision no change in
our processes and practices and                work, given that we don’t yet have             the strong emphasis on certification
integrating them across the Coast              enough people and dollars, remains a           as a critical part of our human capital
Guard. Standardizing processes isn’t           significant challenge.                          strategy.
just a job for the Director of Acquisition
Programs. We depend on other                   DTG: How will you address the Com-             DTG: Given the resource constraints
offices within acquisition, including           mandant’s call for hiring and training         you mentioned earlier, how will the
the Head of Contracting Activity and           more acquisition professionals?                service manage the heavy workload in
the Director of Acquisition Services,                                                         acquisition and the other directorates
as well as the technical authorities,          Rábago: We want the Acquisition                associated    with    Coast     Guard
sponsor, resource provider, our                Directorate to continue to be a place          modernization?
department and, most importantly,              where people want to come to work
the Coast Guard’s operating forces,            because they know that they are going          Rábago: One of the themes [in
to make sure that we are collectively          to be challenged and that they have            acquisition reform and modernization]
successful in executing projects within        an opportunity to make a difference            is to have everyone in their proper role
the acquisition enterprise. This really        for our Coast Guard. We are going to           and then [coming together] as a team
is a Coast Guard-wide effort.                  work through our civilian and military         to accomplish the work. No Coast
                                               personnel systems, as we have in the           Guard entity is staffed to do someone
DTG:      The    Commandant         has        past, to ensure that we recruit, hire          else’s    job.   Acquirers,    technical
emphasized the need to develop                 and retain high quality personnel that         authorities, sponsor, etc., all have to
additional “bench strength” in the             the Coast Guard needs now and into             perform our assigned roles to have
Coast Guard’s acquisition workforce.           the future.                                    the appropriate checks and balances
What is your assessment of the                                                                in place and distribute the workload
biggest challenge facing the acquisition       DTG: Will the Coast Guard have to              efficiently. Today, that is exactly what
workforce today?                               change its standards in order to attract       is happening, and why we are able to
                                               more people into the acquisition               make progress. I am going to continue
Rábago: We have great people in                community?                                     to emphasize [the importance of]
the Acquisition Directorate and in the                                                        roles and responsibilities for all
other stakeholder organizations. Given         Rábago: For us to be successful, we            stakeholders so that, as a team, we
adequate resources and time, our               need professional, certified members            are able to acquire the assets and the
                                                                                              systems that the Coast Guard needs
                                                                                              for success.

                                                                                              DTG: Within the Acquisition Direc-
                                                                                              torate’s projects, how are roles and
                                                                                              responsibilities delineated?

                                                                                              Rábago: There is a pyramid of
                                                                                              responsibility that we follow. At the
                                                                                              top is the program executive officer
                                                                                              and deputy. Then we have program
                                                                                              managers, who oversea a particular
                                                                                              domain, and then within the domain,
                                                                                              we have project managers. We are
 The Sentinel-class patrol boat project is a good example of a complex task requiring         beginning to find synergies between
 close cooperation among all elements of the acquisition enterprise and the mission sup-      projects because they exist within
 port community, writ large. As lead systems integrator for the Sentinel-class acquisition,   a [shared] domain, and are also
 the Coast Guard’s requirements sponsor, resource provider, engineering and logistics,        beginning to take advantage of
                                                                                              common requirements when the
 research and development, contracting, and acquisition management professionals must
                                                                                              programs interact with one another.
 work together to be successful. Bollinger Shipyards graphic
                                                                                                                 continued on page 3

    Mission execution begins here.                                                  www.uscg.mil/acquisition
  D e l i v e r i n g t h e G oods: News from U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition                                       Vol: 18, page 3
continued from page 2
Additionally, the project and program      DTG: How important is effective              Rábago: Our relationships are strong
staffs are taking full advantage of        internal and external communication          and collaborative, but they are not
the matrixed support services of           to the success of the acquisition            institutionalized. They are built by
the Office of Acquisition Services          enterprise?                                  great people with a lot of expertise
and the expertise of the contracting                                                    who have come through the crucible
professionals in the Office of the Head     Rábago: Communication is absolutely          of building the new organization and
of Contract Activity, to manage and        essential [for] teaming and cross-           are successfully working together. We
execute their projects.                    coordination within the Acquisition          now must capture the progress thus
                                           Directorate. Equally important, we           far by updating the Major Systems
DTG: The Coast Guard takes pride in        must be able to frequently communi-          Acquisition Manual, the Blueprint, the
the empowerment of its people. Is that     cate with our sponsor, resource              Human Capital Strategy and other
part of the Acquisition Directorate’s      provider and technical authorities, who      documents in order to document
culture?                                   are our partners in recapitalization.        policies, practices, tasks, lessons
                                           Anything we can do to facilitate             learned, roles and responsibilities so
Rábago: From a management per-             communication and the sharing of             that we can execute those activities
spective, that is critical. No one can     information is incredibly important as       not only today but also for those who
know everything about all the tasks; it    we move forward.                             follow us. They will have the benefit
is too complex and there is too much                                                    of what we have learned in order
work. So it is very important that those   DTG: Building on lessons from the last       to continue making our acquisition
at each level of the pyramid have the      two or three years, what will be the         enterprise successful.
right amount of knowledge in order to      major focus of your effort as Assistant
make sound and timely decisions.           Commandant for Acquisition?



               Coast Guard Research and Development Center Celebrates
                     Move to New Facility at Historic Fort Trumbull
                                                  By Linda M. Johnson


T   he Coast Guard’s Research and
    Development (R&D) Center re-
cently marked its move across the
river to a brand new facility in New
London, Conn., with a Ribbon-cut-
ting Ceremony. Approximately 175
people gathered in a white tent ad-
jacent to the gleaming new building
last month to celebrate the start of
a fresh chapter in the R&D Center’s
41-year history. It is fitting that the
R&D Center’s new offices are located
at Fort Trumbull, a place where ser-
vice members have helped defend
American shores since the Revolu-
tionary War and the original site of
                                           Left to right: GSA Administrator Glenn C. Rotondo, R&D Center Commanding Officer
the first Coast Guard Academy from
                                           Capt. Matthew J. Sisson, New London Mayor Rev. Wade A. Hyslop Jr., former Assistant
1915 to 1932.
                                           Commandant for Acquisition Rear Adm. Gary T. Blore, Coast Guard Museum President
                                           Jerry L. Ostermiller, Dr. Wayne Gronlend with the Marine Safety Laboratory and Cmdr.
The 42,000 square-foot facility is
                                           Scott Rogerson with the International Ice Patrol clutch their gold scissors after cutting
also home to the Coast Guard’s             the ribbon at the gleaming new R&D Center facility in New London, Conn.
International Ice Patrol, which            U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Timothy Tamargo
promotes safe navigation when the
danger of iceberg collisions exists,
                                                                                                              continued on page 4
    Mission execution begins here.                                            www.uscg.mil/acquisition
  D e l i v e r i n g t h e G oods: News from U.S. Coast Guard Acquisition                             Vol: 18, page 4
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and the Coast Guard’s Marine            tively tested the responsiveness and      our acquisition enterprise – their
Safety Laboratory, which provides       accuracy of our standard mounted          dedication in providing world-class
forensic oil analysis and expert        automatic weapon, the M240 ma-            analysis and engineering services
testimony in support of oil pollution   chine gun; the small boat crews who       allow us to deliver tailored, state-of-
law enforcement efforts. The R&D        tested and deployed a developmental       the-market products to our operating
Center, International Ice Patrol        underwater imaging device that can        forces. Their work helps the Coast
and Marine Safety Laboratory were       see objects below the surface in zero     Guard in general – and the acquisition
previously co-located across the        visibility; and the flight deck crews of   and engineering communities in
Thames River at the Coast Guard         the National Security Cutter Bertholf     particular – to ensure that our men
Communications School at the            who gave their valuable input on how      and women have the best possible
University of Connecticut’s Avery       to hangar, traverse, launch and res-      tools with which to do their jobs more
Point campus, also in New London.       cue unmanned aerial vehicles. These       safely, effectively and efficiently,”
                                        invaluable partnerships help us in our    Blore said.
On hand to speak at the ceremony        mission – our sole mission – to make
and officially dedicate the building     the Coast Guard more effective.”          “The R&D Center has always been,
were the Commanding Officer of the                                                 and will always be, a repository of
R&D Center Capt. Matthew J. Sisson;     41 Years of R&D                           knowledge where the Coast Guard
former Assistant Commandant for                                                   can count on getting honest analysis
Acquisition Rear Adm. Gary T. Blore;    Rear Adm. Blore, the keynote speaker,     and     insightful  recommendations
City of New London Mayor Rev.           remarked, “Whether it is in the           at a tremendous value to the
Wade A. Hyslop, Jr.; National Coast     execution of our missions in maritime     taxpayer – even more so now with
Guard Museum President Jerry L.         security, maritime safety or national     this new facility,” Blore explained.
Ostermiller; and General Services       defense, the Coast Guard recognizes       “It includes a wide breadth of
Administration     Acting  Regional     the importance of assessing and           activities, from computer modeling
Administrator for New England Glenn     capturing emerging technologies           and simulation, air-launched boat
C. Rotondo.                             and adapting these to real mission        entanglement devices, the use of
                                        needs. It is fitting that this year we     portable biometrics devices at sea,
Capt. Sisson, who served as the         mark the 41st anniversary of the          the latest in unmanned aerial system
event’s emcee, opened the Ribbon-       formalizing of the Coast Guard’s R&D      technologies, continuing analysis
cutting Ceremony. “Today we are         program. This unit has influenced          on oil spill recovery techniques and
inaugurating a new facility to keep     the service’s engineering, acquisition    ballast water initiatives, to satellite
pace with our growing role in the       and operational communities ever          applications of automatic identifi-
Coast Guard of today and tomorrow…      since.”                                   cation systems – truly an inspiring
The R&D Center is a wonderful place                                               array of work products that make
to work. It is a repository of Coast    Blore noted that the R&D Center           the Coast Guard more effective.”
Guard knowledge and technical           has received numerous citations and
expertise. And, while we hang our       awards for outstanding ingenuity and      Blore concluded, “Having worked
hats here, our work is largely in the   achievements in the advancement           closely with the R&D Center for
field, partnering with Coast Guard       of technology that significantly           the last three years, it is not an
units who, despite their tremendous     improves Coast Guard mission              exaggeration to say that without
operational tempo, find the time to      execution. At any given time, the         R&D Center efforts, we would not
give us their expertise and energy      R&D Center’s 110 staff members            have been able to develop key critical
to field test, revise and improve our    – approximately 80 civilians and 30       technologies. And, by involving the
tools,” Sisson said.                    military personnel – are working on       R&D Center early in our acquisition
                                        more than 80 projects supporting          efforts, we have avoided millions of
He thanked “the aircrews who en-        not just Coast Guard acquisition but      dollars in costs. As a consequence,
dured many hours in full-body weap-     field operations as well.                  I only see great things ahead for
ons of mass destruction response                                                  this unit, this new facility and this
suits to test how long they could ex-   “I couldn’t be prouder of the new         community.”
ecute Coast Guard missions wearing      synergies that have developed
this gear; the gunners who exhaus-      since R&D became integrated within


   Mission execution begins here.                                       www.uscg.mil/acquisition

								
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