Mr. Douglas Bryce, SES, Deputy JPEO for CB Defense, discusses the organization’s recent move from Falls Church, Va. to the Aberdeen Proving Ground Edgewood Area.
ECBC: The Joint Program Executive Office for CB Defense (JPEO-CBD) is just a month away from being fully transitioned from your original headquarters location in Falls Church, Va. to Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Edgewood Area. What has been a highlight of the JPEO-CBD’s phased relocation to Edgewood?
DOUGLAS BRYCE: First, I would like to say that we are looking forward to coming to the Edgewood area to continue our mission. This is something we have prepared for in the past few years, and we anticipate a great organizational upswing by transitioning to Edgewood.
We took a phased approach to the relocation, and one of our highlights is that by the end of February, 55% of our workforce was located in Edgewood. Seven months before closing our Falls Church location, more than half of our organization has completed the BRAC transition. With our organization between Falls Church and multiple offices in Edgewood, another highlight is the successful use of our information technology tools to maintain operations and enable user-friendly collaboration.
Overall, I believe that we have gotten better and that this transition has made our organization stronger. What I would like everyone to come away with is that our top priorities in this move are taking care of our people and continuity of mission.
ECBC: What have been some of the challenges in relocating the organization? How has the JPEO-CBD maintained “business as usual” throughout the move? Did the phased approach play into the continuity of operations?
DB: Our move encompasses more than packing office equipment; we are asking people to relocate families, and that poses personal challenges for our workforce. One of the JPEO-CBD’s top priorities during the transition to Maryland is taking care of our people, and I believe that our biggest challenge has been accommodating their individual needs. Unlike the military, most civilians may not be as accustomed to the relocation process. As a primarily civilian organization, we have people who grew up in Virginia, who have lived in Virginia all of their lives, and who are now moving to Maryland.
BG Scarbrough and I knew that this move, for many, would be met with anxiety. To alleviate this anxiety as much as possible, two years ago we began hosting monthly town halls where BRAC updates, questions and concerns were discussed in an open forum. While we cannot address each individual’s situation, we have worked very hard to provide our folks with the necessary information and the advantages of moving in support of the JPEO-CBD’s mission.
We began the transitioning process during the month of February, and in March, we began shifting operations from Falls Church. Since then, we have conducted our All Hands staff meetings and our monthly reviews at Edgewood. Although our workforce was accustomed to our way of doing business in Falls Church, our organization’s fundamentals remained the same. We maintain our work ethic and continue to focus on meeting the needs of the Warfighter.
During the transition, our workforce has been great. They have more than responded to the challenges and stress of moving by diligently coming to work every day and doing their absolute best. While we shifted our daily operations to be conducted at Edgewood, our staff remained flexible to support operations from Falls Church when necessary. As part of our challenge, the JPEO-CBD leadership has also split time between both locations to fully support the transition of operations and maintain business as usual. I cannot say enough about our workforce; they are a dedicated group of high-quality individuals.
Despite the challenges, our workforce is making forward momentum to be located in Edgewood before September 15. We expect more than 65% of our total workforce to make the move in support of the JPEO-CBD’s mission. As is our mission, we will continue to leverage talent and expertise under a single chain of command, providing the best CB defense technology, equipment and medical countermeasures.
ECBC: How do you foresee the JPEO-CBD’s move to Edgewood benefiting the organization? How will its new location contribute to the JPEO-CBD’s Joint weapons systems total lifecycle management offering?
DB: We are not only well positioned with respect to our partners and stakeholders, but we are now also co-located with them in a community dedicated to solutions for countering CBRN threats to the nation. The obvious synergies include easier collaboration on programs and, most importantly, the opportunity for our people to build closer personal and professional relationships across the research and acquisition communities. Our existing collaboration with Edgewood stakeholders such as ECBC, the 20th Support Command, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and the U.S. Army Public Health Command can only improve as the relationships and exchange of information become easier and more practical. Plus, the JPEO-CBD has had some of our workforce at Edgewood for quite some time; two of our JPMs and parts of a third office were actually up here. Being co-located together has an immediate positive impact on streamlining and making efficiencies within our own organization.
ECBC: Do you see the move creating expanded partnerships?
DB: Absolutely. I see our partnerships only getting stronger. ECBC has areas of expertise not found anywhere else, which is critical to the advanced development and fielding of the best CBRN defense equipment in the world. Since the formation of the JPEO-CBD, we have always had a very strong relationship with ECBC. That partnership can only improve with our proximity to each other. Also, as an acquisition organization, we benefit from all other acquisition organizations located at Edgewood (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors; the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command). With other Program Executive Offices here at Edgewood, we benefit from the efficiencies to be gained from an acquisition standpoint, not only in terms of possible collaborations but also the benefit of an installation-wide acquisition workforce that can manage and innovate across the Army and Joint requirements spectrum. As we complete our transition to Edgewood, we think that our partnerships will only get stronger and better as time goes on.
ECBC: Considering the partnership between JPEO-CBD and ECBC, how do you see the two organizations being neighbors as beneficial to the JPEO-CBD’s work?
DB: Although the JPEO-CBD was never tremendously separated geographically from ECBC, our move to Maryland and our close proximity to ECBC will only strengthen our already strong relationship. As you know, the JPEO-CBD’s move is part of a larger consolidation of CBRN expertise to Edgewood under BRAC law. This is part of a concerted effort by leadership to establish Edgewood as a key center of gravity for all things countering WMD-related with national strategic implications. We believe that “one mission, one team” is the mantra both ECBC and the JPEO-CBD attribute to their countering WMD efforts. Since the establishment of the JPEO-CBD, we have leveraged the talent, expertise and resources of ECBC extensively. ECBC supports the JPEO-CBD throughout all phases of the Acquisition Lifecycle and is represented in our headquarters staff and nearly every JPM Office. This is no small feat, and it underscores the symbiotic relationship we have with ECBC. Now that we are “neighbors,” I am confident our group interaction will be strengthened because we can bring people together in central locations to collaborate. ECBC has reached out and made us feel welcome during our BRAC transition. They have shared knowledge of the surrounding area, assisted with relocation activities and have even allowed us to partner with them on the upcoming Organizational Day activities.
ECBC: You’ve hit on a reoccurring theme amongst DoD organizations – being able to do more with less. Is that burden somewhat lessened by the strategic relocation of the JPEO-CBD to Edgewood?
DB: The JPEO-CBD has responded by making our partnerships, and the benefits thereof, even more imperative. Our partners, like ECBC, DHS and many other agencies, bring a breadth of capabilities and talent that helps us achieve the efficiencies needed. Thus, our partners are embedded within our organization as part of the “team,” which is the highest level of integration and partnering we can have. Amidst our diverse capability base you will find the same recurring theme, “One Mission, One Team.”