The four-star commanders of Naval Forces Europe-Africa, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet have released a joint directive that aims to quickly improve the timeliness and accuracy of Sailors’ pay.
The directive is called a task order and tells subordinate commanders to urgently correct problems that will build trust with Sailors and specifies steps the Navy is taking to solve pay issues, such as creating waterfront teams to reduce transaction backlogs.
“Our Sailors and their families must be paid accurately, consistently, reliably, and most importantly, on time,” the task order released July 9 says. “This is both a quality of life and a readiness issue, and it is certainly commanders’ business.”
Sailors have reported various issues receiving their basic allowance for housing, special pay entitlements, permanent change of station travel entitlements, separation pay and retirement pay.
“Good, bad, or ugly, it is important that we get after issues that are impeding readiness and our ability to be the best Navy in the world,” said Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “Input from our fleet Sailors made it very clear that our pay system is not running smoothly, which is impacting Sailor and family readiness. Timely and accurate pay for our Sailors is a no-fail mission and the task order is our initial plan to get after it.”
Under an initiative by the chief of naval operations called “Get Real, Get Better,” fleet commanders are committed to being “brutally transparent” about problems that must be solved up and down the chain of command that impede readiness.
“A key tenet of ‘Get Real, Get Better’ is to self-assess and correct. Fleet feedback makes it abundantly clear that we’re missing the mark on Sailor pay,” said U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief James “Smitty” Tocorzic. “We understand the problem and the impacts it’s having on our service members and families. We're using the Get Real, Get Better framework to dig in and aggressively pursue changes to the way we’ve been doing business."
The issues with pay stem from a lack of process standardization, insufficient training for pay administrators and immature information technology that never materialized with the centralization of Navy pay transactions at Transaction Service Centers and Regional Support Centers, according to Rear Adm. Stu Satterwhite, Commander, MyNavy Career Center.
When combined with a surge of high-priority transactions supporting families in the wake of the Red Hill fuel spill in Hawaii, the Navy has a large number of pay transactions his team is working to draw down.
“Bottom line, the amount of work in waiting is completely unacceptable, and we are working toward quickly drawing it down and getting our Sailor Pay program back on track,” Satterwhite said. “We are in the process of transitioning to a more modern program that manages timely and accurate pay for our Sailors.”
Additional personnel are also being moved into the centers where pay issues are processed. After their training is complete, these Sailors will take their qualifications back to their command, thereby expanding the pool of qualified personnel who can submit personnel and pay transactions and possess the authority to process those transactions.
Initial teams will be in place by the end of July.
The long-term goal of this initial effort targets Dec. 31 as the date Sailors should begin to receive pay and entitlements within 14 days of becoming eligible for the pay or entitlement.
“This task order is a strong step in the right direction to correct pay challenges with efficient and long-lasting process improvements. Through ‘Get Real, Get Better,’ we’re asking Navy leaders to think, act and operate differently by being more self-assessing and self-correcting,” said Vice Adm. Jim Kilby, deputy commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and ‘Get Real, Get Better’ Advisory Group chairman. “As leaders, we must break down barriers for our subordinates. We must be striving not just to fix one problem, but to understand the root causes of the problem, and make our commands better for years to come. Sailor pay is just step one in a long-list of topics we are tackling with a ‘Get Real, Get Better’ mentality.”
Follow-on task orders will address Sailors’ quality of life during maintenance availabilities and the quality of unaccompanied housing, but addressing pay issues is the top priority.
To read the Sailor Pay task order and for more information on “Get Real, Get Better,” visit www.navy.mil/GetRealGetBetter