USA: Working Group to Curtail Administrative Tasks on Sailors


The U.S. Chief of Naval Operations has developed a working group focused on reducing the administrative overhead on commands, allowing Sailors to spend more time and energy on “Warfighting First.”

“Our goal is to give back to our warfighters, and includes everyone from the CO to the deckplate leaders, more time to focus on the things they need to do,” said Rear Adm. Herman Shelanski, deputy to the director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, and director for the working group.

“These Sailors need to be mission ready, they need to understand their weapons systems, they need to know how to get their ship underway safely, and they need time to do that.”

Instead, feedback from the fleet indicates that Sailors are spending far too much time on administrative tasks, such as duplicative training or competing requirements. CNO is hoping that a review of these requirements with an eye toward restoring balance will allow our force to be more efficient and effective.

 “We plan to accomplish this task in phases,” said Shelanski. In phase one we plan to really gather information, and look at the broad brush picture of everything out there that can affect us. In phase two we plan to narrow the scope and take a hard look at what we can take care of very quickly. Phase three is about putting that information into action – then repeat. This will be a flywheel where we constantly repeat the cycle to continue to find balance.”

Within the week the team plans to have a Website up, which will allow Sailors to begin submitting feedback immediately. The hope is that some commands have already identified ways to reduce some of these administrative burdens and will now have access to a broader audience in which to share that information. A survey will also be going out to solicit even more information from commands to find out what they are spending the most time on and get it fixed.

 “We want amazing, innovative creative young Sailors of any rank to write in to us,” said Shelanski. “Here is an administrative process that I’m spending all my time on and if I had an IPAD and an App, I could save three hours a day.”

With that input they plan to move ahead quickly to get some affect back to the fleet and buy them some time. And Although they want fast action from the fleet on this, they don’t want this process to become another time drain on our Sailors.

 “We just need to know what is hurting everyone’s head,” said Shelanski. “Training is a big one, and we think there is a way to make that more efficient. Take something as common as a zone inspection. Walking around with an officer, followed by a petty officer, we’ve got a process in place that is sucking up time and this guy is writing things down, then he’s got to go to a computer and fat finger the notes into a data base so there’s got to be someone who has an idea on how to make that a little more efficient.

The hope is that in a couple of weeks, once the team has a full excel spreadsheet of inputs; they can narrow the focus to some of the things that they can handle. Maybe the training piece cause I think that is one that tends to affect a lot of the commands throughout the fleet.

 “We think there is going to be a flood of information,” said Shelanski. “So putting together that information in a proper manner so we can systematically go through it will be a challenge. But an even bigger challenge is the cultural change that we hope to effect in the future.”

The team will also look at Websites that hold repetitive information and try to find an IT solution to the problem.

 “If our sailors are burdened by systems like that then certainly it’s one of the things we want to address,” said Shelanski. “It’s our obligation to Sailors to give them the time that they need to do the right things.”

Press Release, June 10, 2013; Image: US Navy