Using Change To Make a Difference
By Del Eulberg, Major General (Ret.), USAF
Communities as a way to keep everyone up to date on the latest housing trends and issues. We’ve also redesigned our website, and we connect with members through our Facebook page.
As we all know, the past few years have been challenging given the inevitable reductions in the Department of Defense budget. The reductions have greatly affected our association, with the continued cancellation of our annual Professional Development Seminar (PDS) training conference. It is clear we will not be having a PDS in 2015 due to a number of factors I will discuss later in this column. As you know, we have been trying a number of ways to continue to provide the training you need by offering online courses as well as continuing to support regional training or installation-specific training. We have made significant efforts to improve Defense
I have heard from a number of you expressing surprise that, given the critical education we provide during our annual PHMA training conference and the “new normal” in the federal budget, the DoD leadership would have found a way to “rebalance” priorities and ensure our housing and lodging professionals receive the training they need. One of the conclusions people may draw from this is that we are supported by our leadership (to include lack of advocacy/support on the part of our senior housing leadership in each of the Services and in OSD).
As with most challenges, it is more complicated than it may appear at first blush. In addition to training budget challenges, and complicated and cumbersome policies from the Services and OSD, each Service has been reducing its staff within the Pentagon and at the intermediate headquarters or Field Operating Agencies (HQ Navy Installation Command, IMCOM, and AFCEC). For example, the Air Force (AF) is currently reducing and consolidating the majority of headquarters (HQ) support functions from the Major Commands to a new AF Installation & Mission Support Command. In addition to the reduction, housing functions traditionally accomplished at Air Staff and the Major Commands are being consolidated at AFCEC. Given the successful privatization of the majority of the AF family housing, HQ housing staffs are seen as “execution” rather than “policy and resources” (a traditional HQ function), which presents the opportunity for efficiencies by relying more on the housing staffs at the installations. These efficiencies or reductions have hit a number of support functions hard—including the housing staffs. Let me be clear here: I am not suggesting that this transformation is a bad thing; however, it is a reality we have to face as an association and as housing professionals. We are in a historical shift in how the Services manage their housing and lodging portfolio, and budget reductions are part of the story.
Having said all that, we believe this also presents opportunities for our association to continue to make a difference. For example, we have been working hard to co-sponsor a leadership seminar later this year between the senior leadership of our housing privatization partners and the senior housing leaders for each Service and OSD leadership. This will provide a great venue for all parties to discuss current challenges and best practices. We will provide more information in future issues but, rest assured, PHMA remains committed to our membership and to our mission.
This issue of Defense Communities contains great articles about energy conservation and sustainability. These are critical topics because in times of reduced resources we must all strive to reduce the cost of doing business. Every penny saved in energy can be applied toward critical training needs and other priorities. DoD is the largest energy user in the federal government and last year expended $20 billion for energy. A lot of developments are underway in each of the Services, and you will read about a number of great initiatives by our privatization partners in this issue. I applaud them for their efforts.
Lastly, I know these are tough times for a number of our colleagues in both the government and private sector. Change is never easy. Let us all remember that we are also a “family” and are in this together. Saying a prayer, offering a kind word, or just listening and lending a helping hand is a small sacrifice for each of us but will have a lasting impact on those in need. God Bless.
Del Eulberg is Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. General Eulberg retired from the Air Force in 2009 as The Civil Engineer, HQ USAF, where he was responsible for installation support for 166 installations worldwide.