HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville collaborated with top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leadership during the Center’s command strategic review May 24-25.
Led by USACE Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. Richard Heitkamp, the discussion focused on Huntsville Center programs, opportunities and challenges from an enterprise-level perspective with the overarching aim of ensuring all USACE centers, labs and districts are working toward the command’s Campaign Plan goals.
Heitkamp began the two-day review by praising the Center’s ability to quickly provide innovative solutions to the most difficult challenges.
“When we dial 911 from Headquarters, the phone rings here,” he said. “I don’t know that everyone realizes that, but if you really have to move something overnight, it’s got to be Huntsville Center.”
Heitkamp’s words were echoed by Alex Dornstauder, chief of the USACE Strategy and Integration Office, who reviewed feedback from key stakeholders interviewed by Headquarters staff.
“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with many commenting that you were integral to them accomplishing their mission,” said Dornstauder.
Huntsville Center employees shared a few of their recent successes that may soon be considered best practices throughout the USACE enterprise.
Nate Durham, Huntsville Center command program manager, discussed the Center’s innovative approach to leasing its new facility on Redstone Arsenal. The 205,000 square-foot building, which is currently under construction with a tentative opening scheduled for January 2024, will eliminate off-post leases, bring all 1,000-plus employees under one roof, and provide a more secure environment for the Center’s staff.
Colleen O’Keefe, chief of the Contracting Directorate, shared her team’s comprehensive strategy for expediting the growth of new employees. By assigning some supervisory duties to junior employees, restructuring responsibilities and providing numerous opportunities for mentoring and coaching, O’Keefe said her employees with less than five years of experience—a group that makes up over 30 percent of the Contracting Directorate—are quickly learning the technical and managerial skills they need to be successful.
Kyle Shireman, safety and occupational health manager, highlighted a few of the tools and strategies the Safety Office has used to become the first USACE organization to fully implement the Corps of Engineers Safety and Occupational Health Management System. Through an updated Safety website that has become a “one-stop shop” for all things safety, Huntsville Center automated the process of submitting hazard reports, requesting personal protection devices, and more.
Shireman also unveiled a demo of a new training program the Safety Office is creating in collaboration with the Army Game Studio. The program, scheduled to be completed this fall, uses gaming technology to allow users to virtually explore a construction site and test themselves on hazard identification and safety measures.
In addition to showcasing their strengths, the Center also presented areas of concern with requests for support from Headquarters. During individual focus sessions, leadership and subject matter experts discussed potential solutions that resulted in two separate to-do lists.
“One list is what we can do at Headquarters to better support HNC. For example, what are your unique IT challenges that we can fix to help you operate more efficiently?” said Heitkamp. “The other to-do list is for the things that you can work on here at the Center,” said Heitkamp.
The command strategic review team will reconvene in 120 days for a status check, he added.
Through partnership with Department of Defense agencies, private industry and global stakeholders, Huntsville Center delivers leading edge engineering solutions in support of national interests around the globe. The Center’s team of professionals engineer adaptive, specialized solutions across a broad spectrum of global enterprise covering five main lines of effort: Energy, Operational Technology, Environmental, Medical, and Base Operations and Facilities.