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Navy Engineer 'People Person' Heads Civilian Personnel System Overhaul

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2004 – Mary E. Lacey, a self-described "people person," is the lead official supervising the overhaul of the personnel system for the Defense Department's 700,000 civilian employees.

An engineer by training, Lacey boasts 31 years as a career Navy civilian employee who has worked on the development of a wide variety of sophisticated weapons systems. Most recently she served as the technical director of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, in Washington, D.C. In her career she has risen through the civilian personnel system, from a GS-2 intern to a member of the Senior Executive Service.

Now Lacey "will lead the comprehensive policy and program management office that will complete the design, planning assessment, and implementation" of the National Security Personnel System, Secretary of the Navy and NSPS Senior Executive Gordon England noted in a May 24 DoD press release.

"I've been in the research and development arena for most of my career," Lacey said during a June 2 interview with American Forces Press Service. She noted she's had extensive experience in designing systems.

And NSPS "is a system," Lacey observed, noting that she also "has a reputation for being a real 'people person.' I'm very passionate about people."

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer praised Lacey's capabilities in a May 24 news release about the constituent from his district, noting her "impressive leadership ability and unmatched expertise in her field."

Hoyer also stated he had "no doubt" that Lacey "will be able to use her substantial experience and valuable insight to ensure that our robust civilian workforce has the tools and resources they need to continue the important work they are doing to protect our nation."

This isn't the first time DoD has examined changing its civilian personnel system, Lacey pointed out, noting that some installations under her purview in her previous position have run pilot personnel system transformation programs for the past three to four years.

"That has given me a lot of experience to understand what really works and what doesn't work," she explained.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had asked England to oversee the implementation of NSPS, one of the defense secretary's key transformation goals. Lacey, the NSPS Program Executive Officer, reports to England.

Rumsfeld has often cited the need to change the way DoD manages its civilian workforce, noting the current personnel system is outdated and inflexible in light of the military restructuring brought about by the end of the Cold War and new requirements necessitated by the war on global terrorism.

The specifics of NSPS are unknown at this time, Lacey said. "We are changing," she noted. However, she cited the need to obtain workforce input and to keep employees informed as the process advances.

"We are going to do everything we can," Lacey vowed, to communicate with DoD's civilian workforce and to "keep them informed" on NSPS issues. "We're going to keep the information flow open," she asserted.

Lacey emphasized that it's also important to solicit opinions from organized labor. To help do that, she noted she's scheduled to attend a meeting today with union officials. Representatives from the 41 unions that represent DoD civilian personnel have been invited to the meeting being hosted by DoD and the Office of Personnel Management.

England said Lacey "is the right person" to lead the NSPS team. "We have selected a leader with proven expertise both in managing large workforces and in leading and sustaining that workforce for new challenges," he stated in the press release. "Mary Lacey has the experience, recognition and respect of the Department's leadership and its workforce."

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Navy Secretary Gordon England
Mary E. Lacey

Related Sites:
DoD National Security Personnel System
Naval Surface Warfare Center

Related Articles:
Chu, England Discuss New Civilian System in Open Letter

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