Moving 4,300 employees to a new facility, whether it’s next door or not, isn’t easy.
Federal News Radio has been telling you about the Defense Information Systems Agency’s relocation from Northern Virginia to new facilities in Fort Meade, Maryland. Jack Penkoske is director of manpower, personnel and security at DISA, and he joins us now with more information on the move.
Jack Penkoske, director of manpower, personnel and security at DISA, told the Federal Drive this is huge move even though it’s only 26 miles.
Penkoske said the number one concern of the workforce has been how to get to the new facility on a daily basis. DISA’s response has been to offer as many different options as possible to employees including guaranteed rides home, charter buses, van pools, car pools, and even telework.
We are going to, around the first of December, open the first classified telework center, I think, in the federal government. It’s in the Woodbridge area, which is where we have a good portion of our workforce. That’s the farthest away from Fort Meade, so we felt a need to do that. It won’t impact a huge portion of the population, but those are the kinds of examples of things I think you have to do. Look at everything you can to help the workforce and the organization and then put them in place.
According to Penkoske, some of the best advice he could give to other agencies is to look at every possible thing to help your workforce. “Do everything you can to help.”
Other best practices, said Penkoske, when faced with this situation include intense planning up front, check for the interdependencies, then really putting together a huge communication plan to inform the workforce about what’s going on and when you expect things to happen.
DISA’s move is on track, said Penkoske, but he admits he was knocking on wood as he said that. “Everything is moving ahead. The first actual move of our employees into the new facilities will start in January and then we have an aggressive schedule to move individuals. Actually every weekend we’ll be moving about 150 to 200 employees from January through the end of next July, until we get everybody into the new facilities.”
He credits “ROC drills,” or Rehearsal of Concept drills, for a big part of the success of the move so far. “We’ve actually gone down to the level of detail of planning exactly when each individual will move, what equipment they’ll have to have, all the logisitics associated with moving of secret and classified information. So we’ve had several…Rehearsal of Concept drills to go down to that level of detail to make sure we’re not missing anything in the planning process.”
In a sure sign of progress, said Penkoske, “although the first real moves into the building start in January, we already have our new security force in place up at the building at Fort Meade.”
DISA recently completed phase one of relocation with a ceremony in which DISA director Army Lieutenant General Carroll Pollett received the key to the agency’s new facilities.
As work continues on the lab and administration buildings, said Penkoske, “one of our big focuses right now is getting everybody signed up for the different (commuting) options from the different locations.”
This story is part of Federal News Radio’s daily DoD Report brought to you by Dell. For more defense news, click here.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.