Message from the Director

Fellow NOAA Corps officers,

Big thanks to CAPT Brakob for affording me the opportunity to speak to you in this week's Cyberflash Guest Director's message. Here are a few thoughts I would mention to any of our junior officers if we had a quick five minutes to discuss advice for a successful career. Of course these are only my recommendations - there are a million different ways to get there and maybe a few of these ideas will resonate with you.

At this week's NOAA Leadership Seminar, Deputy Under Secretary for Operations Mr. Friedman mentioned one of the questions he receives most often is "How do I become a leader?" This made me think about how lucky we are: in the NOAA Corps we receive leadership opportunities right from the start of our careers. Remember to be thankful for each of those opportunities.

Learn from every single one of your supervisors and your chain of command - what works, and just as importantly, what doesn't.

In each job you will be surrounded by subject matter experts - be sure to take advantage of their knowledge and include them in your team's decisions. NOAA is a small and close family - you will be working with these people again!

Flexibility will serve you well. Appreciate and dig into every single assignment no matter if it was your first preference or not even in your top three. Be present in the NOW and find reasons to appreciate where you are geographically, too. Find wins for you, your Line Office and OMAO, all are important and all contribute to a successful assignment.

Be nice. It sounds so obvious and cliched, I know, however it really is so important. Mr. Friedman also emphasized the importance of relationships in his message at this week's NOAA Leadership Seminar. How do you treat your fellow team members, your co-workers and your peers? RDML Hann ends each one of her OMAO messages with the same concept: "Take care of yourself and each other." I cannot overemphasize the significance of this characteristic. Build and nurture your relationships, professionally and personally - they will come around to your advantage at some point in your career, I guarantee.

As the new Director of the OMAO Training Division, I want to remind all of our officers that I am here in this assignment and ready for your questions. Please let me know how I can help you grow professionally during your NOAA Corps career.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.


CAPT Zegowitz

On the Horizon

16 Sep 2020 CO/XO Command Advisory Board
08 Oct 2020 BOTC 136 Billet Night

Approved Resignations, Separations and Retirements

CDR Mark Blankenship 01 Oct 2020
CAPT Devin Brakob 01 Dec 2020
LTJG Sara Wood 01 Dec 2020
LCDR Ryan Wartick 01 Jan 2021

BOTC 136 Indoctrination

LT Gallagher looks on as
OC Friese passes accountability
at a formation.
Photo credit-
LTJG Brittany Sagardia, USCG

BOTC 136 has completed the Indoctrination Phase of the program and has progressed into Junior Status. The class battled through the induced stress that came with the indoctrination, while also working through coursework in Compass and Aids to Navigation, Basic Safety Training, and CPR/First Aid. As Junior Status moves forward, the class begins work in Basic and Advanced Firefighting, Navigation I, and Leadership and Management. In just 4 weeks, the class will be joining their Coast Guard shipmates for a 2 week underway training evolution aboard the USCGC Eagle.

OC Ferguson participates in physical motivation in the quad outside of the Chase Hall barracks.
Photo credit- LTJG Brittany Sagardia, USCG

OC Ruhl is seen pictured here with her USCG shipmates following a team building exercise at the culmination of the Indoctrination Phase.
Photo credit- LTJG Brittany Sagardia, USCG

BRS Update: Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Automatic Enrollment and Re-enrollment Rate Increase Memo (Effective 10/1/2020)

On January 27, 2017, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued the memorandum, "Implementation of the Blended Retirement System," establishing policies and procedures for enrolling Service Members in the Blended Retirement System (BRS). Specifically, paragraph 7.b.(4)(a) states that members enrolled in BRS due to their accession into the Uniformed Service on or after January 1, 2018, will be automatically enrolled in TSP at the default rate of 3 percent from monthly basic pay or inactive duty pay.

On February 18, 2020, the Executive Director, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) announced an amendment to regulations increasing the automatic enrollment percentage from 3 percent to 5 percent of basic pay for all participants who are automatically enrolled in TSP on or after October 1, 2020, and for BRS participants who are automatically re-enrolled in TSP on or after January 1, 2021. This change is applicable to all new Federal employees, including members of the Uniformed Services participating in BRS.

This change primarily impacts only those Uniformed Service members with a Pay Entry Base Date (PEBD) on or after October 1, 2020. This change will not affect the contributions by participants who were automatically enrolled in TSP on or before September 30, 2020, as long as those members continue to contribute to TSP from their own basic pay or inactive duty pay. Unlike members who were automatically enrolled, a member who elected to opt into BRS will not be affected unless such member has a break in service.

OMAO will work with the U.S. Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center to ensure Service members with a PEBD on or after October 1, 2020, are automatically enrolled in TSP at a rate of 5 percent and that those members subject to automatic re-enrollment as of December 31, 2020, are re-enrolled in TSP at a rate of 5 percent. The Secretary concerned will also work with DFAS, or the appropriate pay agent, to ensure that the proper government automatic and matching TSP contributions are made to TSP accounts.

Command Advisory Board: CO and XO Assignments

The CAB is scheduled on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, to make recommendations for Commanding Officer and Executive Officer assignments. Any officer within 18 months of rotation could be considered for these ship assignments. Please ensure your assignment preferences are updated to reflect your latest interest, and reach out to ship Commands and the Marine Centers to discuss possible CO and XO assignments. For any questions, please contact CDR Stephen Kuzirian at or by phone at 301-713-7694.

From the Assignments Desk: Strategic Management Division billets announcement

Calling officers with project management certification (or some prior training and/or experience with a desire to becoming certified), OMAO HQ's Planning and Performance Management Division (PPMD) (soon to be renamed the Strategic Management Division - SMD) has two currently available assignments for a Deputy Director (O-5) and Management Analyst (O-3). The focus of the division is to advance OMAO performance excellence through enhanced tools, business processes, and standard operating procedures. Areas of responsibility for the new Strategic Management Division will include:

  • Policy - developing, strengthening, and implementing OMAO business processes and operating procedures, designing and maintaining an OMAO-wide policy resource and archive for all-employee use.
  • Program and Project Management Governance - standardization of OMAO project management, issuing PM guidance, tracking high-profile projects, facilitating project review board to oversee progress and report to OMAO Leadership Team.
  • Performance - aligning annual operating plans with OMAO strategic objectives; connecting performance to programming/budgeting to strengthen justifications and enhance budget opportunities; managing and tracking OMAO's Strategic Plan progress
  • Managing special enterprise-level projects - high profile acquisitions, critical IAA/MOU facilitation, analysis and evaluation projects, and other initiatives that have cross-divisional functionality.

Put those hard-earned project management skills to use and be a part of this new team directly supporting OMAO leadership priorities. You will be leading these business culture improvements under the OMAO Deputy Assistant Administrator's office reorganization. These billets are great opportunities to showcase your leadership skills, gain experience and exposure to OMAO's executive leadership, and lead cultural change through business process improvement. For any questions please contact CAPT Kurt Zegowitz, Director, OMAO Training Division and OMAO Liaison Officer.