Pioneering a home-based command

Capt. James Oakes has moved roughly every two years during his 36-year Navy career. Although he said he enjoys the travel, he also knew it was getting time for his family to put down some roots.

That wasn’t going to be easy, though.

Oakes was commanding officer for a Navy recruiting district based in Pittsburgh when, three years ago, the Navy requested him to move to Washington, D.C. He was to become chief of staff for N1, the Navy’s manpower and personnel organization under the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. His boss would be the chief of Navy personnel.

Telework program vitals

AGENCY: Navy N1 Virtual Command Pilot Program.

TELEWORKER POPULATION: Program just getting under way; one officer teleworking with spots open for eight additional officers.

TYPES OF JOBS: Program management, career development and Web products support.

TELEWORK GEAR: Service-issued cell phone and laptop with access to Navy servers via virtual private network; collaboration tools include Defense Connect Online and Defense Knowledge Online applications.

He made the switch, but his family stayed in Pittsburgh. “My family was firmly established, and I didn’t want to put [them] through the hassle of another move,” he said.

When the Navy launched a pilot program called Virtual Command, Oakes perked up his ears. Geared specifically toward officers, the program turns several postings in N1 into work-from-home positions.

Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, the chief of naval personnel, asked Oakes if he wanted to participate in the pilot program and help get it moving. Oakes said the opportunity met his dual objective of focusing on his family’s needs while still maintaining a career.

Oakes is the first officer to participate in the program. He works out of a home office in suburban Pittsburgh, and his duty station is at the Navy Annex in Arlington, Va.“It is the most exciting thing I’ve worked on in a long time,” Oakes said of the program, which launched in December.

Employees like Oakes benefit from the work/life balance. The Navy, meanwhile, avoids the expense of moving officers and their families in permanent-change-ofstation transfers. The Navy can also save on the cost of housing allowances, Oakes noted, if the real estate market in the telework site is less expensive than the duty station’s market.

Oakes stays in touch with a cell phone and laptop that has a virtual private network connection to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. He uses general-purpose office tools — Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for example — in addition to applications more specific to his personnel management job, in which he oversees 15 personnel. Those tools include Taskers, a Web-based system that delivers tasks from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to the appropriate action officer.

In addition, Oakes can access the Standard Labor Data Collection and Distribution Application, which he uses to certify civilian employee time and attendance and approve leaves.

Oakes also has collaboration tools at his disposal. He conducts meetings through Defense Connect Online, which provides Web conferencing through Adobe and instant messaging via Jabber.

Oakes said he uses DCO to brief N1 senior leaders and conduct monthly commander meetings.

Oakes said he is looking to fill additional spots in the Virtual Command program.

Those openings range from career development to Web products support.

“We’re looking for volunteers,” he said.

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

Rising Stars

Meet 21 early-career leaders who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • SEC Chairman Jay Clayton

    SEC owns up to 2016 breach

    A key database of financial information was breached in 2016, possibly in support of insider trading, said the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DOD looks to get aggressive about cloud adoption

    Defense leaders and Congress are looking to encourage more aggressive cloud policies and prod reluctant agencies to embrace experimentation and risk-taking.

  • Shutterstock / Pictofigo

    The next big thing in IT procurement

    Steve Kelman talks to the agencies that have embraced tech demos in their acquisition efforts -- and urges others in government to give it a try.

  • broken lock

    DHS bans Kaspersky from federal systems

    The Department of Homeland Security banned the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab’s products from federal agencies in a new binding operational directive.

  • man planning layoffs

    USDA looks to cut CIOs as part of reorg

    The Department of Agriculture is looking to cut down on the number of agency CIOs in the name of efficiency and better communication across mission areas.

  • What's next for agency cyber efforts?

    Ninety days after the Trump administration's executive order, FCW sat down with agency cyber leaders to discuss what’s changing.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group