Director's Message


In the last Cyberflash it was an honor and a privilege to recognize a lot of people and their outstanding achievements and milestones. As I try to gather and put my thoughts on "paper" for this edition, I'm having a difficult time focusing on any of the myriad topics that typically race through my mind in the 13 days between each publication date. This is because I am consumed by thoughts of several of our blue-suiter shipmates to whom I had to convey bad news earlier this week. I am overcome by feelings of melancholy for the unplanned early end of their active service careers in the NOAA Corps. Specifically, I had the unenviable task of notifying some of our shipmates that they were being separated from the NOAA Corps. Obviously as difficult a task as this was, it had a far greater impact on the recipients of this news and I wish them peace, solace, and wildly successful future endeavors as they prepare to close a significant chapter of their lives in service to the Nation.

In reflecting on the deliberations of the personnel boards (there were many) that led to these decisions, there were several themes that emerged and are worth noting for the betterment of the NOAA Corps:

  • The up-or-out system is brutal but effective Our personnel system is unkind yet fair, consistent, and designed to ensure organizational excellence. This system is not designed to coddle, or search for and rescue people who fall behind the dead reckoning positions of their peers. If you fall behind or wind up with a lot of cross-track error on your professional development track line, it takes a significant and sustained effort to make the necessary course and/or speed change that is readily apparent to a personnel board and gets you back on track. CPC's Officer Career Management Division can assist by providing pilotage in the form of career advice and guidance (even if you do not suspect you're falling off your track line it never hurts to get a fourth or fifth line of position) and can help you set the course to steer.
  • The NOAA Corps is an extremely competitive service We recruit primarily for academic aptitude and leadership potential (amongst other attributes) and as a result NOAA Corps officers are an elite cadre of talented people who are subscribed to an intense personnel system. The differences between promotion and pass-over can be small and based on things as seemingly insignificant as the language used to describe accomplishments or the relative numeric scoring (over-inflation of scores) in your OER. The lesson here is to recognize that your OPF is critical and you should get to know how you "look" on paper. Remember, getting in to the NOAA Corps is somewhat similar to going to the Olympics. Just getting there is an accomplishment and a significant matter of pride. Getting on the podium and hearing your national anthem only happens for a few Olympians who drive themselves to go the extra mile.
  • Take care of yourself and take control of your career Don't forget that all leadership is based on a foundation of leading self. If you can't take care of yourself and neglect your own development, no one is going to do it for you. There will always be more tasks than there are hours in the day. The ship will sail without you often times without any regard to what you think was a higher priority than paying attention to you professional development or career maintenance activities. Perhaps most importantly though, if you find yourself in a career distress situation, no one will come to rescue you if you don't fire a flare or light of your EPIRB. The key to accountability for your career management is to be proactive and run a tight ship, but if things start to go awry, don't be shy about seeking assistance. A "bad" OER or being passed over for promotion is a definite sign of distress.
  • Continuous learning Never stop learning or looking for ways to develop. Courses required for promotion are a minimum. Formal training is one of many ways to develop yourself; join a professional society and participate in the group, volunteer with a community group or a cause, be active in your community, but whatever you do find a place to work it in to your OPF. A good place to start is in your biography.

With these things in mind, I call your attention to the calendar. We're about seven or eight months away from the next promotion boards. Now may be a good time to take a look at your OPF, contact CAPT Brakob, Chief, Officer Career Management Division, see how you look "on paper," and take necessary action to ensure your navigation lights are burning bright.

Semper serviens,

CAPT Amilynn E. Adams, NOAA
Director, CPC

On the Horizon

17 October 2016 REFTRA Begins
20 October 2016 BOTC-128 Billet Night
2017 NOAA Corps Centennial Events
20 May 2017 NOAA Corps "Century of Service" Gala Ball

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

CAPT Eric Berkowitz 01 Oct 2016
CAPT Adam Dunbar 01 Oct 2016
CAPT John Caskey 01 Oct 2016
LTJG Shannon Hefferan 14 Oct 2016
LT Lindsay Morrison 30 Nov 2016
LTJG Kasey Sims 30 Nov 2016
LT Eric Younkin 01 Dec 2016
ENS Samuel McKay 16 Dec 2016

History: The Pioneer Survey

Sixty years ago, in August of 1955, the Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship PIONEER was involved on a secret Navy project conducting bathymetry off the west coast on five mile line spacing. It was using the most advanced offshore navigation system in the world at the time, EPI, or the Electronic Position Indicator. This system was developed by C&GS officer Captain Clarence Burmister and had an accuracy of approximately 150 feet at 300 miles. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography became aware of this survey and requested that a new instrument, a marine magnetometer, be towed from the vessel. This was allowed by the Navy and the magnetic data was never classified. The unprecedented accuracy of the processed map from the magnetometer revealed magnetic striping on the seafloor, a key to understanding the evolution of the seafloor and a cornerstone of the Theory of Plate Tectonics. In earth science history, this survey became known as the "Pioneer Survey" and has been called one of the most significant geophysical surveys ever undertaken.

Reserve Officer Association Junior Officer of the Year (JOTY)

A hearty Bravo Zulu to LTJG Douglas Pawlishen! The exemplary work of LTJG Pawlishen was recognized this week by the Association of Commissioned Officers at the Reserve Officers Association annual convention in Reno, NV. Alongside RADM David A. Score, LTJG Douglas Pawlishen received the 2015 Junior Officer of the Year Award for leadership, commitment to service, and fiscal ingenuity as Officer in Charge of R/V Gloria Michelle. He is also the recipient of the Engineering Awards for innovation and technical expertise in leading the work on the vessel to restore legacy sytems (systems that your's truly probably installed!) Congratulations to LTJG Douglas Pawlishen. As a reminder to all NOAA Corps Officers, ACO award nominations are solicited in the beginning of the calendar year so be on the lookout for the next opportunity.

From left to right: Colonel James Sweeney, USMC (Ret.) [ROA National President]; RADM David Score, NOAA; LTJG Douglas Pawlishen, NOAA; Katherine Dalton [LTJG Pawlishen's fiance]; CWO3 Dale Anderson, USNR (Ret.) [ROA Deputy Director, Naval Services]

Audit Season and Delayed Servicing of Officers

For more than a month, CPC has been in the thick of audit season. The amount of personnel hours required to complete this congressionally mandated financial reporting requirement is hard to believe. As a result of the audit, many officers may have noticed a curtailment of personnel services while available staff have been redirected from their routine transactional HR duties to duties associated with this in-depth and detailed review and validation of payroll, accounting, and financial liabilities for active duty officers, retirees, and annuitants. While this routine audit happens each year, this year is particularly challenging due to findings and necessary corrective actions from the previous year. If you have been waiting too long for Officer Personnel Management Division services (PCS orders and vouchers, awards, resignation/retirement approvals, etc.) please contact the Director, CPC and every effort will be made to rebalance resources to the highest priority transactional needs.

Uniform and Awards Board Deadlines

The UAB typically meets to review awards at the beginning of each month. The UAB will review awards submitted on or before the last day of the previous month. Late submissions and requests for expedited action diverts CPC's scarce personnel resources away from higher priority work as well as creates a burden on the UAB members who serve in their roles as a collateral duty. Please be mindful of this deadline. Requests for expedited processing of awards due to missed deadlines may be requested from the Director, CPC and must possess compelling circumstances.

Presidential Transition

President Obama has signaled that he wants the upcoming transition of administrations to be the smoothest in history. While the transition of Presidential power can create uncertainty and anxiety for people for a variety of reasons, it's important to note that the peaceful transfer of power and seamless continuity of operations is one of the hallmarks of our democratic system of government. To facilitate this process, the Department of Commerce has created a website to help answer questions regarding the transition. The website includes the Executive Order on facilitating a Presidential transition, bureau points of contact, and links to relevant ethics rules and guidelines. The site will be updated on an ongoing basis to address frequently asked questions. To access the Commerce Department's transition website, visit

Use/Loose Leave

30 Sep 2016 is the date that you must be at or under Sixty (60) days of Regular Leave. You must either Use any leave that you have over 60 days or LOSE IT.

From the Assignment Desk:

Potential New Temporary Billet in Development

CPC is seeking a self-driven officer who has an interest to serve in a possible temporary and one-time billet as NOAA's Regional Collaboration Coordinator for the North Atlantic. The location of the billet is flexible; the officer can be stationed in any NOAA FMC in the North Atlantic (VA-ME). NOAA's regional collaboration network is tasked with identifying, communicating and responding to regional needs; catalyzing collaboration, and connecting people and capabilities to meet NOAA's mission. As NOAA's North Atlantic Regional Coordinator, the officer would work alongside the Senior Executive Service (SES) North Atlantic Regional Team Lead (currently the Eastern Region Director for the National Weather Service) to administer and lead a team of 20 senior NOAA staff located throughout the region, representing all of NOAA's business lines and a variety of disciplines. The coordinator produces and disseminates regionally-specific information on NOAA's place-based impacts and priorities to inform decision-making, develops and extends NOAA's interdisciplinary capacity, and fosters interaction among NOAA activities and with partners to improve understanding of and respect for NOAA's mission and capabilities in the North Atlantic.

This billet rewards curiosity, creativity, initiative and will provide the incumbent with an opportunity to gain valuable experience leading and learning from senior NOAA managers across all of NOAA's business lines. Knowledge, skills and abilities developed include an increased understanding of NOAA capabilities and offices in the North Atlantic, project management, budget planning and execution, writing and oral communication, facilitation and coordination. This would be a three year billet being considered for activation in August 2017.

For more information please contact CDR Nicholas Chrobak at