Tackling the BRAC Mission Continuity Challenge Workforce

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1 Tackling the BRAC Mission Continuity Challenge Workforce by Joseph W. Mahaffee mahaffee_ Dr. William Rowe, Jr. rowe_william_ Elizabeth Miller

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3 Tackling the BRAC Mission Continuity Challenge Workforce A significant portion of the civilian workforce will not relocate under BRAC 2005, creating challenges for mission continuity. Here s how the best organizations fill gaps and deliver sustained performance during mission transitions. Executive Summary The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round calls for relocating more than 125,000 military and civilian positions at over 800 defense locations scattered throughout the United States and its territories. The Government Accountability Office calls it the biggest, most complex, and costliest BRAC round ever. 1 Military organizations are expected to operate at peak performance during the transition, but experience shows that on average, only 25 to 30 percent of Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees will move with their jobs. Consequently, a major challenge facing BRAC-affected organizations is mission continuity: How do they effectively continue operations and deliver mission-critical services while trying to replace a large percentage of their civilian employees, including many who are highly skilled, hold security clearances, and have years of training and experience? Booz Allen Hamilton, the McLean-based management and technology consulting firm with offices across the country, has helped numerous defense organizations address mission continuity and workforce transition issues. We have found that successful organizations create workforce transition plans that are guided by six key principles: 1. Create incentives to maximize the number of existing employees who relocate to the new location. 2. Attract and develop a skilled workforce in the new location, often in partnership with the state government and local community. 3. During the transition, take advantage of talent pools in other geographies, leveraging skilled employees in an Integrated Delivery approach. 4. Reassess and restructure business processes to be more effective in the gaining location. 5. Capture the knowledge of existing work functions and processes for transfer to the new workforce. 6. Communicate transition plans and opportunities so that employees are engaged and informed throughout the process. With the deadline for implementing BRAC 2005 less than two years away, Defense leaders face an urgent need to recruit, train, and retain a skilled workforce at their new locations. Experience from previous BRAC actions shows that organizations may not reach full strength again until several years after the move. Defense organizations can effectively address these challenges by creating workforce transition plans built upon these six basic principles, thus enabling them to minimize risks while delivering mission-critical services throughout all stages of the transition. Section I: BRAC Workforce Challenges BRAC 2005 is much more ambitious in size, impact and approach than previous BRAC rounds. The estimated $32 billion cost of BRAC 2005 exceeds the combined cost of the four previous rounds. The closures and realignments will affect more than 800 Defense locations, including 22 major base closures and 33 major realignments, and require the relocation of 125,000 positions -73,000 military and 52,000 civilian by September 15, Unlike previous rounds, the closures and realignments are designed to support DoD transformation initiatives and, in some instances, emphasize joint-service functions of installations. Although military personnel will move with their jobs, perhaps as few as 15,000 civilian 1 Military Base Realignments and Closures: DOD Faces Challenges in Implementing Recommendations On Time and Is Not Consistently Updating Savings Estimates, January 2009 (GAO ), p. 1. 1

4 employees will relocate. Some organizations will lose 50 percent or more of their civilian workforce. Many of those who remain behind will need retraining and placement in new organizations. Moreover, the changes come when the military services are engaged in contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while also relocating about 70,000 military personnel and their families to the United States from Europe and Korea. Deadlines are also tight. The GAO, for example, has reported that 230 military locations anticipate completing implementation within the last two weeks of the deadline. 2 Some of these locations, which involve some of the most costly and complex recommendations, have already incurred delays. And an estimated $23 billion in facilities are still being constructed or renovated. The workforce challenge is thus complicated by deadline and cost pressures, relocations of overseas troops, ongoing contingency operations, pressures to reassign staff that are not moving, and ambitious military transformation initiatives. In many instances, multiple organizations are moving to the same geographical region, creating fierce competition among relocating agencies for skilled workers, especially those with technical expertise or security clearances. Not surprisingly, DoD leaders are looking for effective solutions to fill the huge holes in their organizations caused by BRAC closures and realignments, because it simply is not acceptable to allow degradation in operations or services that could weaken national security or, perhaps, endanger the lives of military personnel. For many organizations, creating an effective workforce transition plan will be the difference between a successful and a very difficult BRAC transition. Section II: Mission Continuity: Best Practices in BRAC Workforce Transition Planning and Execution How do organizations and their leaders plan for a robust, skilled workforce to ensure mission continuity when a BRAC move is announced? Most begin Workforce Transition: Principles of Success 1. Create incentives to maximize the number of existing employees who relocate to the new location. 2. Attract and develop a skilled workforce in the new location, often in partnership with the state government and local community. 3. During the transition, take advantage of talent pools in other geographies, leveraging skilled employees in an Integrated Delivery approach. 4. Reassess and restructure business processes to be more effective in the gaining location. 5. Capture the knowledge of existing work functions and processes for transfer to the new workforce. 6. Communicate transition plans and opportunities so that employees are engaged and informed throughout the process. by informally gathering information about who is interested in relocation. They follow up with surveys and, as deadlines approach, receive commitments and make offers. Along the way, they will address questions about incentives, timetables, compensation and benefits, and quality of life and services at the new location. Gaining locations will often reach out to sending locations via road shows and tours to increase interest among staff in relocation. At some point, organizations moving to gaining locations will begin recruiting talent in these locations, though they often postpone this task in hopes that current employees will be persuaded to relocate. Ultimately, an organization s leaders will realize they need a formal plan that incorporates a full range of strategies and tactics to address human capital challenges. The most successful organizations make BRAC workforce planning a high priority activity. 2 Ibid., p. 4. 2

5 Effective workforce transition planning begins with a comprehensive assessment that identifies the skill sets the organization will need over time in the gaining location to continue the mission. With this information in place, and information on the number and nature of actual staff relocations, the organization can devise a strategy for filling gaps and meeting its workforce requirements. One of the most effective ways to assess requirements and establish a transition plan is through tabletop or wargaming exercises. A well-planned tabletop exercise can bring together key decision-makers and stakeholders to assess workforce skills, define the required end state, and identify gaps and recruiting needs. The exercise facilitates dynamic interaction among stakeholders in a realistic environment that enables them to visualize and anticipate different scenarios. It also stimulates creative problem solving and helps participants build a shared vision for addressing BRAC workforce issues. For example, as a result of a tabletop exercise by the Kentucky BRAC Task Force, state officials are taking steps to develop a skilled workforce over the long term through changes in high school and college curriculum and continuing workforce development. The ultimate goal, whether accomplished through tabletop exercises or other processes, is to create a transition strategy and tactical plan for ensuring the performance of all required operations and services carried out by military personnel, civilian employees, and contractors. In our experience, helping DoD organizations develop and implement their plans, we have found that the most effective workforce transition plans are guided by the six key principles discussed below. Principle 1: Create incentives to maximize the number of existing employees who relocate to the new location. DoD leaders can offer many types of incentives and inducements to persuade employees to relocate with their organizations. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), for example, is considering sponsoring commuter bus services to the new location at Fort Meade, MD. 3 The agency also has authority to give bonuses of up to 25 percent of basic pay to retain highly skilled employees, such as information technology specialists, electrical engineers, and contract specialists. Retention incentives at some agencies can include bonuses to staff that are not moving to encourage them to stay until the last day they are needed. The agencies also might offer promotions to those moving to the new location after satisfactory performance in the new position for one year. Congress has also stepped in to ease moving costs. For Defense employees or service members who bought homes before July 2006, Congress authorized the Pentagon to pay up to 95 percent of the loss if the home is sold before October 2012 due to a BRAC move. As of April 2009, the Pentagon was still trying to decide how much compensation it would offer. 4 The receiving locations often provide relocation incentives as well. For example, some states offer in-state tuition and licensing reciprocity that is, acceptance of professional licenses for teachers, doctors, and other professionals to incoming BRAC families. States and local communities may offer transportation and other resources to sponsor pre-relocation visits, so people can examine schools and the local community. Maryland, for example, will send state ambassadors to recruit people to its receiving installations. State agencies and individual businesses also might offer inducements, such as home purchase down payment assistance, additional first-time home buyer assistance, and lower interest rates on bank loans for people who relocate. DoD and the receiving communities often work together to ensure that family support services which are critical to relocating employees are in place to ensure a smooth transition. 3 Stephen Losey, DoD applies telework, subsidies to ease BRAC moves, Federal Times, April 20, Ibid. 3

6 Principle 2: Attract and develop a skilled workforce in the new location, often in partnership with the state government and local community. Some DoD organizations delay recruiting in the receiving location until after they confirm who will be relocating. Our experience suggests that it is important to begin recruiting early for key positions to create an anchor of skilled employees in the new region. Many states and communities are eager to help DoD organizations recruit local talent and attract skilled workers from across then nation. They view the influx of new people and organizations as potential catalysts for job growth, economic development and expansion of the tax base for local services. Consequently, some DoD organizations have formed partnerships with university systems and local economic development agencies to train workers with needed skills or certifications. Skilled retirees living in the receiving community also will return to work if a concerted effort is made to find and attract them. Some states, such as Kentucky, are adjusting their education systems to develop skilled employees for relocating organizations. And Maryland is sponsoring the Security Clearance Overview and Preparation Program (Project Scope), which provides students with security awareness and education to increase the pool of eligible employees for security clearances. Government organizations can also initiate programs to foster needed talent. DISA, for example, has significantly increased the number of summer interns and expanded its DISA Student Career Experience Program offering full or part-time employment to students, thus helping the agency recruit and train new employees. Finally, government contractors can provide key resources and help as BRAC-affected organizations make their transition to new locations. In many instances, contractors can quickly deploy the required employees, who not only bring the desired expertise but also have the domain knowledge to help train new staff joining the organization. Principle 3: During the transition, take advantage of talent centers in other geographies, leveraging skilled employees in an Integrated Delivery approach. Unlike prior BRAC rounds, BRAC 2005 takes place after an explosion of information and communications technologies that enable organizations to structure work processes so they can access mission-critical capabilities from multiple locations. Consequently, BRAC-affected organizations are not limited to using talent found only in the receiving location. Organizations today have an opportunity to access the best capabilities throughout the United States. The key is establishing an Integrated Delivery model that seamlessly blends capabilities regardless of location into the organization s operations and processes. Booz Allen has extensive experience using Integrated Delivery to provide a wide variety of technical and specialized services for its government and commercial clients. Our Northeast region currently has 51 project teams working from multiple locations, including one team that has 46 people delivering services. The teams work on classified and non-classified programs, and they deliver the full range of the company s services, such as systems engineering, software development, testing, certification and accreditation, and forensics analysis. Some projects require a small number of staff to work onsite with the client. Employees working at locations away from the client site occasionally must travel to the client site. But Integrated Delivery allows us to hire and tap into the best qualified people for our clients. The lessons learned from these projects provide a framework for helping government organizations create similar workgroups that could deliver integrated mission services from multiple locations. We have identified several important steps for successful use of distributed capabilities: Identify the skills that are critical and in shortfall; Remove cultural, legal, and policy barriers; 4

7 Provide robust communications and media infrastructure to ensure project success through collaboration; Define the work to focus on outcomes and deliverables; Establish the appropriate Quality Control and transparency to ensure performance and value. Booz Allen also has created a comprehensive guide to help organizations determine whether they have the right organizational structure, processes, and resources to implement Integrated Delivery. We believe that DoD organizations could conduct pilot tests of Integrated Delivery workgroups prior to their BRAC moves to help determine whether certain services can be delivered from multiple locations and, using our guide, how best to do so. Many organizations are examining telework solutions to help retain employees. While these initiatives are important, Integrated Delivery is more than just an effort to mitigate employee shortfalls. It provides organizations with an opportunity to tap into skilled workers, regardless of location. Similarly, effective Integrated Delivery is more than just conducting a meeting via video teleconferencing or using file-sharing and other collaborative technologies. It requires a strategy and concept of operations for conducting the organization s work using distributed assets. The payoff for developing such a strategy is continued access to the organization s best talent, not just during the transition, but on a permanent basis. Principle 4: Reassess and restructure business processes to be more effective in the gaining location. As organizations prepare to relocate under BRAC, they will consider multiple means to ensure mission continuity. In addition to the activities described in the first three principles above, organizations can also reengineer their organizational structures and work processes to enhance mission performance and efficiency in the face of limited resources. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), for example, is using the BRAC relocation as an opportunity to improve collaboration among the NGA offices being consolidated at the new headquarters campus at Fort Belvoir, VA. The planned integration of IT systems, architectures, and processes will facilitate information sharing within NGA and with its partners throughout government, thus enhancing the agency s mission capabilities. Similarly, the Air Force Real Property Agency, despite losing 90 percent of its civilian workforce when its headquarters were relocated from Arlington, VA., to San Antonio, TX, crafted a plan that enabled leaders to transform the organization and take on increased mission responsibilities in the new location. Agencies can also increase efficiency through shared services. Under shared services, organizations share common functions, such as administrative and secretarial duties, security staff, mail room and distribution services, shuttle and commuting services, restaurant services, and other functions that are common to all organizations at the new locations. Whether organizations are undergoing strategic transformation or simply trying to streamline operations to address anticipated workforce shortfalls, they can increase efficiency through organization and business process reengineering. Principle 5: Capture the knowledge of existing work functions and processes for transfer to the new workforce. Mission continuity requires DoD organizations to retain, transfer, and then institutionalize the knowledge that otherwise will be lost when highly skilled and long-time workers remain behind. Even if business processes change or a re-organization occurs as part of the BRAC initiative, new employees will benefit from an understanding of previous operations. Following a process known as Knowledge Preservation, Management, and Reuse (KPMR), many organizations create online electronic job books that describe job requirements and responsibilities, work processes, 5

8 the location of job-specific documents, and other information necessary to carry out particular job functions. For example, a BRAC-affected intelligence organization is using a KPMR-centric solution that is a Web-enabled Job/Continuity Book. And the Air Force Real Property Agency (AFRPA), which moved its headquarters from Arlington, VA., to San Antonio, TX, implemented a variety of knowledge capture and transfer solutions to identify the new skill sets that would be required to support the new headquarters functions, create onboarding continuity plans, train new employees, and share AFRPA internal process and operating model information. Principle 6: Communicate transition plans and opportunities so that employees are engaged and informed throughout the process. Strategic communication is essential for effective transition. Informed workers make better decisions and are more likely to support the organization s workforce plans. A carefully planned communications strategy will include town halls, public meetings, workouts, e-surveys, Internet chat sessions, and other methods of communications. Organizations should provide continuous feedback to answer questions, communicate options and incentives, and address all concerns. They should also be prepared to re-engage workers through these methods as often as needed. Section III: Best Practices in Action DoD organizations that have used these principles to guide their transition activities were able to maximize the retention of existing employees and recruitment of new talent. Successful organizations typically worked closely with their contractor partners to smooth transitions and fill workforce gaps, using Integrated Delivery where possible. Equally important, many organizations also re-examined and restructured work processes to create the more efficient operations at their new locations. In addition to the examples already cited, here are a few detailed examples: When AFRPA s headquarters were designated for relocation to San Antonio under BRAC 2005, the agency was just starting to take on new mission responsibilities to help Air Force military bases and installations maximize their real property assets through enhanced use-leasing and other activities. But with only 10 percent of the more than 50 civilian employees making the move to the new location, the agency faced a severe staffing shortfall. AFRPA leaders conducted a thorough review of the expected workload and then crafted a long-term plan for carrying out the agency s responsibilities, including a business plan for obtaining needed skills. The agency carefully divided responsibilities between the old and new headquarters during the transition, and used contractor support to supplement its staff in both locations. The Integrated Delivery of services from multiple locations allowed for the smooth and uninterrupted performance of mission critical operations while the new headquarters was being established. Today, the transformed organization continues to expand its services. The highest relocation rate for the US Navy and Marine Corps during the first four BRAC rounds was attained by a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) research and development activity that relocated from Warminster, PA., to Lexington Park, MD. The impacted workforce was primarily doctorate-level scientists and engineers, and the initial relocation survey indicated that less than two percent of the employees would even consider relocating. Their position changed dramatically due to two important factors. First, a Senior Executive Service official at Warminster announced that he was relocating. In addition, the official began working closely with the Maryland Tri-County Chamber of Commerce to sell the idea of moving to his colleagues. The Chamber of Commerce established a booth in Warminster that was open five days a week during business hours and staffed it with people, maps, information on housing, schools, 6

9 spouse employment opportunities, and other information. The Chamber also sponsored weekend overnight trips for NAVAIR employees and spouses to tour the local communities and base, meet with local housing and school officials, and see the benefits of Southern Maryland. Eventually, 42 percent of the workforce relocated. BRAC 2005 calls for consolidating the Washington, DC-area offices, of the NGA at a new headquarters campus at the US Army s Fort Belvoir, VA. The relocation of 8,500 employees requires the coordination of myriad complex activities with federal, state, and local stakeholders, from obtaining environmental approvals to clearing the land of unexploded ordinance to acquiring land and easement rights to building the large campus facilities. Now less than two years from completion, the project has remained on schedule and within established cost parameters. Its successful project management has included strong communication with both internal and external stakeholders. Within the organization, NGA leaders are constantly updating employees regarding BRAC transition plans and requirements, and gathering feedback to ensure maximum employee participation and a smooth transition. At the same time, the NGA is working effectively with external stakeholders in the Army, state agencies, and local community to ensure that NGA s interests were reflected not only in the new facilities but also in related activities such as transportation, housing, and other issues important to transitioning employees. with hard-to-replace skills. Further compounding the challenge, C4ISR project managers rely on multiple types of personnel (military, core and matrixed civilian staff from other agencies, and contractors) to perform their missions. Fort Monmouth has implemented a rigorous human capital analysis on several programs managed at the Army base. The analysis included a comprehensive examination of the number of people by skill and type required to manage each system in the different programs, the likelihood and timeframes in which assigned staff would relocate, the factors that would influence staff relocation decisions, and the actions management could take to incentivize staff to relocate. While the effort remains ongoing, the analysis has informed both incentive programs and the recruiting process. The analysis also had the unexpected benefit of increasing the engagement of the Fort Monmouth workforce in these programs, raising the percentage of civilian staff considering relocation from 34 percent to 40 percent. Under BRAC 2005, the Army is relocating its Command, Control, Communications and Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system and program management functions from Fort Monmouth, NJ, to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. This initiative calls for relocating over 5,000 military and civilian personnel to a consolidated headquarters at Aberdeen. The civilian personnel include many high-demand specialists 7

10 Section IV: Conclusion No BRAC move is easy. Some require the relocation of just a few dozen positions; others involve thousands. Often less than half of the civilian employees will relocate, and those that do face difficult transitions with their families. Not only must they find new homes, jobs for spouses, and schools for children but, in many instances, government employees must take up new or additional responsibilities at the new location. Agency leaders must address the concerns of both remaining and relocating staff, oversee the construction of new facilities and implementation of new IT systems, manage the physical transition to new facilities and accomplish all of these tasks without disrupting current operations or mission-critical activities. Nevertheless, mission continuity issues can be minimized, if not eliminated, by upfront planning and adherence to the six workforce planning principles discussed. DoD officials should especially look closely at their organizations and measure current activities against what their customers value most. Moving organizations as is to the new location can appear to be the simplest approach; however, BRAC also provides an opportunity to redefine relocating organizations to make them more efficient, thus lessening the impact of the move at the other end. Flexibility in applying the workforce transition plan is also important. Organizations can benefit by testing their plans and assumptions in tabletop exercises during the transition. This will help them make the right adjustment to ensure required performance. The effective use of contractor support can also help agencies fill gaps during the transition and provide needed skill sets after the move is completed. Integrated Delivery represents a new and valuable tool for mission continuity. Although DoD organizations do not have extensive experience using integrated and distributed workforce, our experience shows that these approaches can be adapted to DoD needs and operations not only during a BRAC transition but also on a permanent basis. Creating and executing an effective workforce transition plan requires hard work, strong leadership, flexibility, creativity, and efficient use of resources. But organizations that build their plans upon the six key principles of transition planning will have the greatest success achieving mission continuity while carrying out BRAC relocations. 8

11 About Booz Allen Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology consulting for 95 years. Every day, government agencies, institutions, corporations, and infrastructure organizations rely on the firm s expertise and objectivity, and on the combined capabilities and dedication of our exceptional people to find solutions and seize opportunities. We combine a consultant s unique problem-solving orientation with deep technical knowledge and strong execution to help clients achieve success in their most critical missions. Providing a broad range of services in strategy, operations, organization and change, information technology, systems engineering, and program management, Booz Allen is committed to delivering results that endure. With more than 22,000 people and $4.5 billion in annual revenue, Booz Allen is continually recognized for its quality work and corporate culture. In 2009, for the fifth consecutive year, Fortune magazine named Booz Allen one of The 100 Best Companies to Work For, and Working Mother magazine has ranked the firm among its 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers annually since Contact Information: Joseph W. Mahaffee Dr. William Rowe, Jr. Elizabeth Miller Executive Vice President Principal Principal 301/ / / To learn more about the firm and to download digital versions of this article and other Booz Allen Hamilton publications, visit 9

12 Principal Offices ALABAMA Huntsville CALIFORNIA Los Angeles San Diego San Francisco COLORADO Colorado Springs Denver FLORIDA Pensacola Sarasota Tampa GEORGIA Atlanta HAWAII Honolulu ILLINOIS O Fallon KANSAS Leavenworth MARYLAND Aberdeen Annapolis Junction Lexington Park Linthicum Rockville MICHIGAN Troy NEBRASKA Omaha NEW JERSEY Eatontown NEW YORK Rome OHIO Dayton PENNSYLVANIA Philadelphia SOUTH CAROLINA Charleston TEXAS Houston San Antonio VIRGINIA Arlington Chantilly Falls Church Herndon McLean Norfolk Stafford WASHINGTON, DC The most complete, recent list of offices and their addresses and telephone numbers can be found on by clicking the Offices link under About Booz Allen Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. BAH-266 BRAC Mission Continuity VP

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