Saturday, October 25, 2014

Missing the point on PCS expenses

Credit Cards, from Wikimedia

Recently an article came out announcing that Government Travel Cards would be authorized for use on PCS expenses.  On the outside, this looks fantastic: military members now won't have to pay out of pocket when they move every 2-3 years.

"We want to make sure that people still have it within their budget to continue to travel," he said, "but we've got to travel smarter, more efficiently and try to return money back to the Department of Defense."

Return money to the DoD?  Ohhhh, that's right...

Requiring PCSing service members to use the card also comes with a big reward for the government, since the Defense Department receives cash rebates for money spent on the card, officials said. For example, a 5 percent increase in usage across the Defense Department generates an 11 percent rebate.

Well, I have no problem giving DoD money.  PCS travel isn't about making money, it should be about getting from point A to point B relatively quickly and with all your stuff.  The travel card should make that easier, right?

WRONG.

"When the credit card bill came due we had to pay it out of our pocket. Here it is close to three months after our PCS and we still haven't received a dime in reimbursement from the Air Force for our expenses," wrote Air Force spouse Jami Moore on the Military OneSource Facebook page, which recently advertised the change.

"The GTC card doesn't make a difference when a service member is forced to pay out of pocket for a move if they aren't reimbursed right away. Luckily we have savings, but others may be forced into a situation where they either have to buy food and risk getting paperwork for not paying their GTC card or pay their GTC card and not eat. And if you can't pay it, it goes on the service member's credit report."

Bingo.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making orders more routine

Well how about that.  NPC is trying to use NSIPS to make routine orders routine.

"Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) order writing module, which will be utilized to generate all orders authorizing permanent change of station (PCS) transfer of members for unit moves, unit*s decommissioning, base realignment and closure (BRAC) moves, overseas tour extension incentive program, and enlisted separation and retirements. All other PCS orders will be written by Commander, Navy Personnel Command (CNPC) (appropriate detailer)."

You can read more about it here:

http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/NAVADMINS/NAV2014/NAV14244.txt

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unsolicited Advice

A few days ago one of the officers at my command stopped by and asked me about getting a Masters Degree via distance learning from Naval Postgraduate School.  I walked her through all the ins and outs, the advantages and disadvantages.  We talked for a solid 30 minutes about NPS.  It was probably the most enjoyable conversation I had that day because I felt like I had something to offer her and that she listened to what I had to say.  Even if she doesn't pursue the degree, at least she legitimately heard me out.

About a month ago I had an almost polar opposite experience.  I had a young man complain about how high his electric bill was, something that isn't uncommon in Hawaii.  Feeling like I could help him, I asked if he had a cable box, which he told me he did.  I gave him my advice about unplugging his box at the end of the day to help cut his electrical costs (advice that is now two years old, in case he ever Googled it).  Straight to my face, he told me "That won't work."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mandatory Security Review?

Yikes!  DoN is cracking down on security reviews.  If you have a clearance with some sort of caution, condition or warning, you're now required to have a "way ahead" or risk cancellation.  Read about it here:

http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/ALNAVS/ALN2014/ALN14073.txt

Monday, October 20, 2014

Admitting there is a problem

First, I've got a new blog for the blog roll: The Greenie Board.

I got sucked in by his article called Perception? It's Reality. Apparently CNP is visiting Rhode Island to discuss the findings from the Navy Retention Survey, and input is being collated for him to comment on. One of the first comments sent in nails the problem on the head:

 “The first step is to admit there is a problem - it's not a perceived lack of trust - it's an actual lack of trust. It's not a marketing problem - it's an operations problem.  To say it's a perception problem makes the problem about the subordinates, rather than the Flag Officers / "senior leaders" who need to be looking introspectively at both their decision-making process and decisions and how both may contribute to the actual lack of trust.”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fixing the little things


Toilet, from Wikipedia

I once had a toilet that didn't work well.  It did its job OK, but often I had to jiggle the handle or fiddle with the tank to get it to stop running.  At the time it was a minor annoyance, which I let slide for about a year.

Then one day I used the toilet right before walking out of the house to go to church.  My family came back from church almost two hours later to find our toilet hadn't stopped running and had overflowed (from the tank, since the limit switch broke) and was cascading water down through the upstairs floor into our kitchen.  Luckily I had homeowners insurance, which covered the toilet, new tile, new subfloor and the cleanup.

What I realized later in life was that the toilet was a little problem that I had chosen to life with.  I could have spent part of an afternoon fixing the problem, but instead I just put up with it.  And in the short term, it was fine.  But over time, all the other components inside the toilet broke, and since I had already written off the toilet as broken in my mind, I didn't notice the slide until it caused a thousand dollars in damage to my house.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Commands that make rank

 YOKOSUKA, Japan (March 1, 2007) - Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jason Dillon and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Ann Hammerer fill in test cycle information during the Navy-Wide Advancement Exam on board Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Advancement exams for the E-4 through E-6 are offered twice a year, in March and September. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John L. Beeman (RELEASED)

At some point, during the next promotion phase, Navy Times will probably publish an article about which commands have the best and worst selection rate. The article will imply that somehow if you go to these commands you stand a better chance at making rank than others.

I hate these articles because I have heard they drive Sailors decisions as to where to request orders. Just like how most politics are local, commands have all sorts of reasons for being good or bad on a given year for promotion. It has much more to do with the command team than the actual command, yet I don't see Navy Times tracking which reporting seniors tend to get people promoted (wouldn't THAT be an interesting article).

It does make me think of this article by Seth Godin: