May 2, 2014 --
During his last town hall at Marine Corps Systems Command, Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley told the assembled audience, “I am proud to have served alongside you. I’m not gone yet. I’m not done yet. I still owe you some things.”
The MCSC commander cited key points for the near and long term at the April 30 gathering at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
“We’re in for some tough times,” he said. “The good thing is we’re getting through it. We want to make sure our supervisors have the tools to manage in their environment. We also have way too many people and too few dollars, which is why we have to manage to payroll.”
The general also introduced Col. Joseph Shrader, selected for promotion to brigadier general and designated to assume command of MCSC in July. Kelley said his next assignment will be with Naval Air Systems Command.
MCSC Executive Director Dr. John Burrow, who led the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program for the Marine Corps, has been assigned to lead the Navy Small Surface Combatant Task Force study. Kelley said Burrow will not return to MCSC.
Michelle Cresswell-Atkinson, deputy commander for Resource Management, spoke about the “huge success” of the Marine Corps audit, likening it to “pulling the string from cradle to grave” to show how taxpayer money is spent.
“We’re the only command in the Marine Corps that executes investment dollars,” she said. “This is an ongoing effort. We passed for fiscal year 2012 dollars. I have every confidence and trust we’ll continue to pass future audits.”
Funds execution is also getting better as the command catches up on Department of Defense targets.
“Our collective credibility depends on our ability to execute according to our plans,” she said. “Realistic planning and consistent communication is the key.”
Kelly echoed the consistency theme.
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” he said. “That means keep doing the hard work.”
The general also reviewed results from the command climate survey. He said MCSC needs to set aside time for coaching and counseling. Leaders and supervisors must conduct coaching focused on long-term professional development.
“Our workforce says, ‘I want to be valued,’” Kelley said. “They also want people to be held accountable and not tolerate bad behavior. We also need to work on mentoring. Our people want their supervisors to be interested in their careers and give a path for what to do next.”
One the other hand, the general said the command does many things well.
“We support Marines,” he said. “We accomplish the mission. We take care of our families. We train, and we communicate.”
Difficult choices remain as MCSC confronts dwindling dollars and its longstanding workforce.
“We can’t avoid reductions,” Kelley said. He explained that the current workforce of 2,000 has to be trimmed to 1,815 by fiscal 2016. That includes a 20 percent reduction in the command support staff. This will involve grade shaping to match salaries with billets along with organization mapping. This compares MCSC as it is today to what it should be in the future.
“We will get there,” the commander said. “We will reduce billets and rank structure where we can.”
The command will rely on a formula of attrition plus Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program to reach its end state.
“There will be no RIFs,” Kelly emphasized, referring to reductions in force. “There will be no reductions in grade or pay unless it’s voluntary.”
Kelley also addressed topics raised by MCSC workers prior to the town hall, primarily compressed work schedules discarded before furloughs began in 2013.
“It was my decision not to bring CWS back,” he said. “We lost sight of its intent. It was not an entitlement or rewards program. It was supposed to help manage our time so we could execute the mission. It was not being managed, and no one was tracking those hours. There are other methods to accomplish those same goals.”
In response to another question, the general said the MCSC inspector general will check to see if there is a format to release the results of the climate survey to the entire command.
Cresswell-Atkinson said VERA and VSIP offers have already been made to workers.
“As we identify jobs to be downgraded, we will offer VERA-VSIP,” she said.
Related to that, the deputy commander described how grade shaping and manage to payroll will come into play. For instance, if an NH-IV billet is selected for downgrading, the person in that billet will be moved to another NH-IV position and offered training for the new job.
"This command can handle change,” Kelley concluded. “Don’t sell yourselves short.”