Commander’s Column: Planning for the Future

Col. Jose Aguilar

Col. Jose Aguilar

Portland District Teammates,

Since my last column, we celebrated the Army’s Corps’ and Nation’s birthdays. I trust all of you celebrated our Corps’ birthday with a walk or run in order to spend time with fellow employees and build esprit de corps. In the last few issues I have discussed several topics and have received an inordinate amount of feedback, all of which I appreciate – thank you.

Over the next several months, we will continue with our Cascadia seismic reinforcements, complete final prep for the Columbia River FY17 long-term outage, experience a lot of transitions, conduct dredging operations, advance capital work (150 percent of last year and growing) and tribal housing and continue Block 300 renovations. I recently walked through the tenth floor with my wife to check on progress (it’s going well – some offices are already moved back in.)

I’ve visited the projects around the District, including showing Brig. Gen. Scott Spellmon around one of our partnership environmental restoration projects at Columbia Stock Ranch. The Corps is working with Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, trying to find a successful strategy that will reintroduce critical fish and wildlife habitat to the area.
Coming this August, we have a visit scheduled from Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). Before that, we’ll host an awards ceremony, the District picnic and, everyone’s favorite, initiation of end of year closeout. All of you – in one form or another – are involved in it. We all know how important the end of the fiscal year is and I hope you know how much each of us appreciate your dedication.

In the last issue I spoke about doing routine things routinely. Today I will want to discuss future planning (hopefully you will not stop reading here). What will our District look like in the next ten years? It all depends on what we are directed to do by our national leaders. Your Corporate Board team members are pushing out the planning horizon.

Although we look at budget submissions on an annual basis (and we just forwarded the FY18 budget submission to NWD), our direction must be tied to a longer term strategy: a vision of where we should invest in order to continue serving the American people of the Northwest. We have made some assumptions about our future operational environment in order to visualize the challenges and opportunities. This will also help us shape our gradual glide path to meet those challenges and capitalize on those opportunities.

To that end, we are updating our Standing Order and OPLAN. This is the consolidated document about our programs/projects for FY17 in order to provide focus on the program drivers for next year. It also details what we will invest in to drive change for the betterment of our organization. I’ll discuss this in greater detail in a future column.

Working with each of your division chiefs, we will take a longer view of our mission to help us make assumptions and predict the future. One thing is certain, we will not get it all right … but that is not the point. The point is to visualize a possible future which will drive incremental change to meet it. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Although our initial plans will not be what we execute, the thought process will prepare us to meet the challenges of the future.
Thank you for continuing to perform magnificently in order to allow our senior leaders of the District the opportunity to focus on the long-term health of the organization.

Competence follows Character,
Col. Jose Aguilar
61st Colonel of the District