Below are a few paragraphs from the remarks as written for ASNE conference by ADM J.C. Harvey, Jr., U.S. Fleet Forces from 14 Sept. 2010.
In it he brings up something that has been critically missing during the Lost Decade - accountability. People or process? How about both.
Did/does it have to be this way? no.
.... Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer's reflection on what made the Aegis program so successful.ADM Harvey is on point. Accountability begins at the top though, we need a follow through with how we structure our programs.
I won't bore you with all of the details, but he attributes his success to two major characteristics. First - good governance, which included a very high degree of personal accountability. For 15 years, Admiral Meyer was the single accountable officer responsible for bringing Aegis from concept to implementation.
And PMS 400 was the single organization responsible for the Aegis program.
We no longer have an Admiral Meyer and PMS 400. Aegis was once a small island in a big fleet - now Aegis is the fleet. And as Aegis has grown, so have the number of organizations responsible for some piece of the Aegis pie. Which leaves us the question - "who is now responsible and accountable for the whole pie?"
Second, Admiral Meyer describes the importance of single minded dedication to the pursuit of technical excellence combined with being obstinate.
Admiral Meyer understood both the operational impacts and the burdens that would be placed on the backs of our sailors if he delivered a combat system that was not operationally effective, suitable, and reliable. And so Admiral Meyer refused to budge one iota from that standard of system performance, reliability, and effectiveness.
Admiral Wayne Meyer and his team were true to his roots as a professional navy engineer - he never wandered, he never waffled. His example shines before us to this day - an enduring commitment to excellence. Now, I know many of you here today aren't EDO's. But that doesn't matter - I believe my message applies to everyone here today. Whether you are an EDO, a government civilian, or a private contractor; whether you work at a shipyard, a regional maintenance center, or at a headquarters - we are all one team.
And so my message to you today reflects my expectations as a fleet commander for the maintenance and modernization of our ships - our foundation must be the absolute adherence to the time-tested standards of performance, reliability, and effectiveness.
We don't need maintenance managers or system life-cycle managers - we need technically savvy, hard-nosed systems engineers who are absolutely committed to delivering excellence in design, development, construction, test and delivery.
I need you focused first and foremost on effectiveness - if it's cheap, efficient, but doesn't work - it does the fleet no good. The worst sin we commit is when a new system or platform is expensive and still doesn't perform to specification and requires still more expensive fixes to get right.
You are the front line in the battle to maintain our standards, it all starts with you. I expect you to ensure our ships are built correctly, receive all the proper maintenance necessary to reach expected service life, and that the ships and their installed combat and engineering systems will perform to design specifications as long as our crews do their jobs underway correctly and conscientiously.
No matter what organization you're in, and whatever "box" you're in within that organization - and however the boxes are arranged linking you with other boxes or other organizations - straight lines, dotted lines, dashed lines, or imaginary lines - be obstinate! Never, never, never give way on our standards of excellence.
And you know what they are...
The standards that have sustained our navy so well for so long - standards of technical rigor in design and performance, standards of uncompromising adherence to our maintenance plans and standards of professional performance in every aspect of your duties.
These are the standards this community brought to our navy in response to Secretary usher's call to arms in 1841 - they are in your DNA.
Today, each of you must make the personal choice to go back to your roots, face today's challenges head-on and take ownership of whatever actions are necessary to bring our design, development, construction, test, delivery and maintenance programs back to standard.
And you, each one of you, must consider yourself accountable, wherever you serve and whatever you do, to the fleet sailor to sustain those standards.
That accountability is non-negotiable and must drive your daily work just as it drove Admiral Meyer.
I think it would also be helpful if we went beyond discussions from decades ago and do some self reflection. For starters, why does ADM Harvey need to make a speech on accountability? Why does he need to encourage one of my favorite personality characteristics, obstinance? Why does he need to remind a group of exceptional professionals to,
"Never, never, never give way on our standards of excellence."Of course, we all know why. The pressure to PPT over excellence for expediency's sake to support ADM/VAD/RADM's pet project is huge. Without top-cover or you are crushed and left adrift. Everyone would like to be Col. Boyd ... but not everyone is Col. Boyd. As a result, we get ACS, DDG-1000, LCS, and LPD-17.
To really fix a problem though, you cannot indirectly allude to it in an intellectually passive aggressive manner. You need to be honest and direct.
An alcoholic does not recover from his disease by reminding himself that he needs to take better care of his health, he needs to drive safely, that he needs to get more sleep, that he needs to spend less money on Boone's Farm and more on breakfast.
No, that won't do. It is a good start, and a sign that the person knows he has a problem - but it won't cure the problem. Like the alcoholic, we need to be brutally honest with each other and ourselves. We need to clearly say, "This is what I did, and this is why I did it. This is why it is bad. This is why I won't do it again."
The alcoholic will never recover if he states, "I had a hard day at work, made poor decisions, and couldn't keep the car on the road. Sorry I wrecked your Porsche and shat in the pants I borrowed."
No. We are getting closer - much closer - but we are not there.
BZ to ADM Harvey though - he is speaking clearer and is identifying problems better than anyone else in CONUS right now who has a prime parking space. Very important part of the conversation.