Military Sealift Command: Moving into the fiscal future

The following blog by Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command, reminds MSC personnel to take to heart the lessons we learned during the recent government shutdown and apply them to  future endeavors. We are definitely not back to business as usual.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 30, 2013) USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) conducts an ammunition offload with USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12).  (U.S. Navy photo by MCSN Travis DiPerna)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 30, 2013) USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) conducts an ammunition offload with USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12). (U.S. Navy photo by MCSN Travis DiPerna)

When President Obama signed the Continuing Resolution Act into law in mid-October, it raised our debt ceiling through Feb. 7 and funded our government through Jan. 15, ending the government shutdown. However, though it’s over for now, it is within the realm of possibility that we will be in the same situation again in January.

Thank you for your assistance over our government’s 17-day shutdown. We dealt with a great deal of uncertainty and, during the course of events, learned a lot about how MSC does business. Our all-hands meetings in Norfolk and Washington, D.C., were instructive and informative, and I greatly appreciate all of your good ideas on how to reduce our costs and maximize our efficiency. We’ve already implemented some of those ideas, and we are studying others.

Good organizations only get better when everyone is fully engaged in thinking about how to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, so please keep your great ideas coming. As I have said before, “feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

I know we are relieved to have a continuing resolution in place and that we’re ready to get back to doing our jobs and supporting our mission, but it’s important to remember that it was a continuing resolution, not a real budget. Nothing that transpired during these past weeks of wheeling and dealing on Capitol Hill addresses what remains the biggest long-term issue for our Navy and all of DOD – sequestration.

Please, make no mistake; we are NOT back to business as usual. Many restrictions and controls that our Department of the Navy put on travel, contracts, operations and so on during the shutdown remain in effect. And while some of those restrictions and controls may be lifted in the coming days, we still operate under the cloud of sequestration for the foreseeable future.

So, I request that every one of you take this to heart. We must develop a culture and pattern of behavior of smart saving. Always keep safety first, but consider the costs and the benefits of everything we do. Consider the risk associated with reducing or eliminating the buy. Is that trip really necessary? Ask yourself if there’s a better way of doing business, no matter how small the potential improvement. Every little savings adds up to big overall savings.

We must act and operate as if every MSC dollar is one of our own personal dollars. In effect, it is. As a working capital fund, we’re in a unique position. Every dollar we save builds up our capacity to deal with future uncertainty. Every over-expenditure hurts our capacity to react to future events. We must all be good stewards of the resources we have.

You do great work! Keep at it, and sail safe. You have my heartfelt thanks for your service.

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