History: Dangers of the Old West
Geodetic field parties experienced great adventures while in the Coast and Geodetic Survey. They could also be dangerous. Young officers had the opportunity to see great stretches of wilderness, many places that no longer exist in the United States. The following paragraph relates incidents in the life of a field party working through the Dakotas in 1925:
"… Lt. Pheley was injured twice, once while carrying a pack to a mountain station, and again when a bronco he tried to ride objected to him. The latter accident unfortunately proved rather serious, for it necessitated Lt. Pheley's going to a hospital for several months' treatment. Ensign N. B. Smith, who had charge of one of the observing parties, was with the party for a little over three months, and came away without a scratch, although he had a gun pulled on him once…. Two of the members of the party were married, two others also married, and one of the lightkeepers drowned while duck hunting. It's hard to tell what will happen to some of these fellows when they get out into the great open spaces."
Officers got quite the taste of the "Old West" in the early days of the USCGS. Today, field parties still face dangers such as wildlife, weather, and exposure.
Honoring True American Heroes
LCDR Mansour and LTJG Mathes flank Mr. Jon J. Jenkins during the Inaugural Medal of Honor recipient breakfast.
On Inauguration Day, LCDR Jason Mansour and LTJG Melissa Mathes were honored to be the first NOAA Corps officers to amend the Inaugural Medal of Honor Recipient Breakfast, hosted by the Reserve Officers Association
During the breakfast LCDR Mansour and LTJG Mathes were honored to meet several distinguished Medal of Honor recipients and their families, including Mr. Don J. Jenkins, Mr. Leo K. Thorsness, Mr. Ty Carter and Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr. Their acts of courage and selfless dedication to the United States of America and their shipmates are humbling and a source of inspiration.
Welcome aboard BOTC 129
The following candidates were administered the Oath of Office by Captain Adams on Monday, January 9, 2017:
- Jeffrey Calderon- College Park, MD
- Michael Card- Astoria, OR
- Hillary Fort- Arlington, TX
- Michael Fuller- Potomac, MD
- Anna Hallingstad- Anacortes, WA
- Gabriel Johnson- East Falmouth, MA
- Linda Junge- Anchorage, AK
- Justin Miyano- Honolulu, HI
- David Norman- Camano Island, WA
- Jacquelyn Putnam- Norfolk, VA
- Sony Vang- Fresno, CA
- Mary Youpel- Chicago, IL
The new Ensigns are experiencing intense indoctrination training. Their long days begin at 0500 and end at 2200, with consistent staff interaction as they're provided instruction in all aspects of uniformed service life. They are given challenging leadership opportunities and quickly learn to deal with stress and work in a team environment.
This is the first week of their 19-week BOTC experience.
Any Officer interested in meeting with the class to provide career and assignment insight during BOTC can contact the NCOTC school chief, CDR Keith Golden: email@example.com
Can Officers Live Aboard a NOAA Ship While not on Duty?
For those officers without dependents, the answer is simple. If you have not refused quarters and are therefore not receiving a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), you may reside on the ship at all times, whether in homeport or not. If you have refused quarters and are receiving BAH, you are not permitted to reside on the ship when it is in homeport. However, when the ship is away from homeport, living aboard is authorized.
Officers with dependents whose dependents reside in the ship's homeport are not permitted to live aboard while in homeport but may stay on the ship while in a location other than homeport.
If dependents are living in a "designated location" and you are receiving BAH based on the location of your dependents, you may stay aboard while the ship is in or away from homeport.
If you have chosen to have your dependents live in an "undesignated location" and are receiving BAH based on your homeport, you are not authorized to reside on the ship while it is in homeport. When the ship is away from homeport, staying aboard is authorized.
Officers can stay aboard the ship in port regardless of location if ordered to perform duties associated with the safety and security of the ship, such as duty as OOD In Port.
Can I Stay Aboard the Ship?
NOAA Corps Leather Name Tags
Please note that the order form for leather name tags located on the CPC website has been changed. There is no longer an option for a "SWO logo" on the order form. Per NOAA Corps Directive 12609 A. 2, leather name tags will be black leather with the NOAA Corps Seal and may be worn on sweaters, flight suits and flight jackets. This NOAA Corps Directive applies to ALL officers. There are pending updates to the Directives that may allow additional options in the future, but for now, all officers must comply with the current policy in place.
Information from Payroll
Payroll Unit Challenges
In January 2015, the USCG made a substantial change to their payroll processing system. As with any substantial IT system "upgrade" the transition was not without challenges. The challenges have resulted in a substantial increase in workload (and frustration) for the Payroll Unit. While kinks and bugs continue to be worked out of the system, officers are advised to remain vigilant and review each LES for accuracy. Note any discrepancies and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sending additional notices to Carol and Ron's named email accounts only creates additional workload burden. One of the largest challenges faced by the Payroll Unit include an inability to validate that pay corrections have been processed.
This means that sometimes an action won't "take" and they need the extra vigilance and notice by affected officers to let them know more work (or a help ticket at PPC to the USCG's Global Pay contractor!) is necessary.
USCG Pay System
Direct Access will be down again for maintenance from February 23 through March 1, 2017. No one (not even the NOAA Corps Payroll Unit) will have access during this period.
Temporarily Not Fit for Duty Status While Assigned to a Ship
Officers who have been found temporarily not fit for duty or fit for duty but not sea duty, as directed by the Director, Health Services, must detach the ship immediately. Since the ship is an officer's official Permanent Duty Station, TDY orders must be generated (through Travel Manager) and funded by the ship, Port Office or Marine Center. TDY entitlements differ depending on the location of the ship. If an officer has been issued TDY orders to the ships homeport and the officer is receiving BAH for that location, M&IE only is authorized for the duration of the TDY. An officer sent TDY to a location other than homeport is entitled to full per diem including lodging, if procured. Under no circumstance, whether the ship is operational or not, is an officer permitted to be on a ship while not fully physically qualified.
Payroll Leave Processing
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the NOAA Corps Payroll Unit has been understaffed since early December. The priorities are to get pay actions processed and pay issues resolved as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this has caused a delay in the processing of leave slips. Once all other actions have been processed and documented, we will begin working on the backlog of leave slips. Anticipate all leave slips will be entered into the system and documented by mid-February.
Based on the ongoing payroll processing challenges, one officer was kind enough to share their frustration regarding active and accurate management of their leave balance and offer their cuff-system solution. This benevolent team-player who wished to remain anonymous has shared their Excel-based cuff system for leave management available here. The basic instructions for use are:
- Enter current leave balance in the yellow cell (Jan-17)
- Enter future leave plans in the "Planned" column
- Once leave is complete AND shows up on LES, enter actual number of days in the "Processed" column (this provides a visual clue on the graph because the Processed line will overwrite the Planned line)
- Note date sent to payroll (if I have more than one period of leave in a given month, my practice is usually to submit all leaves slip at once because it's easier to track when processed on future LES's)
- Monitor LES and note when the leave is recorded.
- Take ample notes. It can get confusing if you don't.
Note that there are hidden rows for additional years beyond 2019
NOAA Corps Officers are Eligible for the NOAA Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Recently, CPC was informed that some officers who had sought assistance through the NOAA EAP program were denied service. There have been anecdotal data points which have fed a myth that NOAA Corps officers are truly not eligible to receive service. The myth continues under the assumption that the denial of service from EAP is due to our eligibility and ability to seek support services from the other services. The truth – NOAA Corps officers are NOAA employees and are eligible for NOAA EAP. Period. Full stop. End of story. No caveats. The program exists to serve ALL NOAA employees. An officer's ability to obtain services similar to those offered by NOAA's EAP through other the programs offered by other uniformed services does not negate eligibility in the NOAA Program.
Denial of any of the services designed to help an officer facing some kind of stress or crisis is completely unacceptable and is a very serious matter. Don't take "no" for an answer if you need help. If you have sought services through NOAA EAP, have been denied due to your status as a NOAA Corps Officers and are comfortable reporting basic details surround the denial of service, please report it to CPC by emailing email@example.com or calling CAPT Adams directly at 301-713-7711.
NOAA Corps Reauthorization Act
For those interested in the progress of the NOAA Corps Reauthorization Act, it has been introduced in Congress as Senate Bill 171. Feel free to track it or review the current language using your favorite legislative branch tracking application. It's available via the official congressional website here. If you search "federal legislation tracker" you're sure to find plenty of free results.
Unconscious Bias Training
In the final days of the previous administration, President Obama indicated his desire for senior leaders in NOAA (and other scientific agencies) to receive unconscious bias training. Recently, prior to the announcement and as part of the initiative to build a more inclusive culture and foster the development of high-performing teams, unconscious bias training was provided to a limited audience at NOAA HQ. If given the chance to take the course, take it. Put it on your RADAR. Expect to see course offerings in the future and do it. It's eye-opening and crucial to one of the most fundamental aspects of effective leadership – knowing yourself. For more information or request information on sources, please contact OMAO's EEO Program Manager, Ms. Ebony Jarrett, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some concerns were expressed regarding President Trump's recent Executive Order implementing a hiring freeze. The NOAA Corps is specifically exempt from the freeze.
From the Policy Desk
As a reminder, officers are encouraged to go to the NOAA Corps Policy tab on CPC Website, for a snapshot of the directives that are currently under review. This website provides a brief summary of the recommended changes and updates. Officers are also reminded to utilize the policy email address email@example.com, for any clarification and questions that they may have. This email account is monitored daily. In this coming year, NOAA Corps Policy Program Manager will be providing a "frequently asked question" section to the Policy tab as well.
Blended Retirement System Opt-In Course
A new course designed to help inform the decision of officer's eligible (less than 12 years of service before December 31, 2017) for the Blended Retirement System has been released on the Joint Knowledge Online website. The site offers a CAC-enabled and CAC-free course option. Those eager to learn more about whether the Blended Retirement System is the right choice for their financial security goals are free to search and take the Opt-in Course on their own. A link is NOT being provided at this time as CPC works with the OMAO Chief Learning Officer on how to best deploy the training as a mandatory requirement for eligible officers. Be advised, if you take it of your own initiative and curiosity, you may have to retake it later for credit. If you still wish to proceed in order to satisfy your curiosity, use the search terms "Joint Knowledge Online, Blended Retirement System Opt-In"
Blended Retirement System Budget Formulation
Additionally, in the End-of-Year package, CPC has a series of questions designed to assist in the development of a budget request to properly fund the change to the BRS. Please answer these questions and, for the purposes of prudent and precautionary budget planning if you are still unsure whether you will elect to enroll in the new system please answer the questions as if you were going to enroll.