Army Medicine's Workforce 2020 Project: Caring for people while managing change

U.S. Army Medical Command
Story by Valecia Dunbar

Date: 02.03.2014
Posted: 02.14.2014 09:17
News ID: 120641
Representatives of Army Medicine's Workforce 2020 Project

SAN ANTONIO -The Workforce 2020 Project is an enterprise-wide initiative chartered Nov. 20 by the MEDCOM Chief of Staff to identify and develop process improvements to inform workforce restructuring decisions. WF 2020 key outcomes include realigning workforce with enduring missions, implementing business rules to assess change, and establishing processes and plans to shape the future force while minimizing adverse impacts to our valuable MEDCOM employees.

The WF 2020 Project is part of a broader transformation to meet current and future mission requirements.

"Our Nation has been at war over the last 12 years. With both conflicts coming to an end, the restructure of a smaller, more agile Army, and changes in the Military Health System, we must appropriately assess and align the MEDCOM workforce to ensure the right capabilities exist in the right locations across Army Medicine," says Ric Fiore, MEDCOM chief of staff and project champion.

To address changes driven by multiple internal and external forces, Army Medicine is charting a course that supports the strategic reset of the Army. The AMEDD Transformation Directorate (ATD) Program Management Office (PMO) is leading MEDCOM's WF 2020 project. Carey Klug, ATD director and WF 2020 project sponsor, is tasked with developing the processes to support force structure decisions that align workforce with future mission requirements. The WF 2020 project team, led by project lead Debra Caraway, is comprised of representatives from MEDCOM Human Resources, Resource Management, Manpower, Civilian Corps, and other key staff.

"In our current fiscal environment, building more facilities and hiring more people is not tenable," says Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, Army surgeon general and commanding general U.S. Army Medical Command. "Instead, we need to innovate; we need to use our existing resources and know-how to create value for our beneficiaries and the Army. To transform from the traditional healthcare system, we must refine our abilities and increase our reach."

Many questions surround the exact nature and impact of the WF 2020 Project. The fiscal and strategic nature of the current environment dictates that "MEDCOM must change to survive," says Klug. "The mission of Army Medicine is transforming. We can wait for change to happen, or we can drive the change to maintain relevancy and value into the future. Our current and future state is simply not resourced as it has been in the past."

Although Klug readily admits that much is still uncertain, there is one thing that is certain. "I can tell you now, it's really about the people," says Klug. "People are our most important asset; they add the real value to this organization."

External Forces:

The DOD, Military Health System (MHS), Defense Health Agency, and others influence how the WF 2020 Project work group will identify and recommend processes needed to support future workforce decisions. The impending financial constraints will require force reductions throughout the Armed Forces, and will generate reductions to MEDCOM. Additionally, multiple MHS studies, including the Modernization Study, Median Analysis of Mid-Sized Hospitals Study, and Small Hospital Study, will form the development of personnel management approaches that assist the WF 2020 project team in developing and standardizing processes to assist MEDCOM commanders in making personnel decisions.

Internal Forces:

The implementation of new services and capabilities coupled with current force structure "initiatives" requires that we align our requirements, authorizations, and funding, as well as provide the tools to enable commanders to identify future changes to missions/services (enduring, temporary, or nonenduring) and align the workforce to those enduring missions in order to retain our valued personnel. The intent is to provide options for employees in temporary or non-enduring missions/ services to move to enduring positions. Options include training to qualify for an enduring position; permanent change of duty station (PCS) to another location where their valuable skill set is needed in an enduring position; and possibly other alternatives all focused to minimize adverse impacts, on the organization and our people, such as a Reduction in Force.

Managing Change:

"For the foreseeable future, MEDCOM will be continually affected by multiple studies and resource decisions that will drive change in our workforce structure, our facilities, and our services," says Fiore. "There will be changes or reductions in the services we provide to our beneficiaries at some locations. There will be reductions in our military personnel and there will be reductions in our Civilian personnel. The key is to manage these changes in a way that minimizes the impact on our people. We can do this if we are deliberate in our hiring processes. We experience 6-8% attrition every year. Every vacancy is an opportunity to reshape. If we manage vacancies well, we can minimize impacts."

The transformation process is guided by two key questions says Klug. "How do we set ourselves up for success in the future? How do we respond to change while ensuring the workforce is aligned with mission requirements?"

Keeping people informed and aware of the project is an important part of the PMO's directive. The WF 2020 work group is committed to leveraging the multiple communication platforms within Army Medicine to provide updates as the project progresses.

Leaders are looking at a culture change in the Army. The end state for Army Medicine is to achieve the surgeon general's vision to move Army Medicine to an Operating Company built around a System For Health. ATD's role is to deliver the technical and functional capabilities that will assist leaders in communicating the Operating Company principles of consistency, clarity, and accountability when faced with difficult workforce decisions and ensuing personnel actions.

"It comes down to one key point," says Klug. "We must take care of the Soldiers, Civilians, and Families entrusted to our care. And, our people provide that care. Our future will be what we make of it and how we influence that is the biggest challenge we all face."