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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2023

District Government Operations helps DCNG achieve RESET through staffing and HR reform

By Staff Sgt. Kevin Valentine DC Government Operations - DC National Guard

The District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) has supported District and Federal partners on a near continuous basis, including activations to support the District’s COVID operations, first amendment demonstrations, Capitol response, presidential inauguration, and other National Special Security Events (NSSE) and domestic operations (DOMOPS) to include Independence Day festivities. This has had a lasting impact on the DCNG’s ability to sustain regular efforts and like other branches, retain Soldiers and Airmen.

Maj. Gen. Sherrie L. McCandless, commanding general of the DCNG, has formulated a RESET plan to focus on the training and wellbeing of DCNG Soldiers and Airmen, and sure up processes that keep the DCNG running efficiently. 

Melbert Carlos, DCNG’s newest District government operations human resources (HR) manager that supports the DCNG, has established himself as an integral part of ensuring the success of RESET and proving that District government and DCNG’s partnership in centering Soldiers and Airmen, is the most effective collaboration in centering DC Guardsmen and their families.   

Here are ten questions and answers from Mr. Carlos to help you know see how the District government and DCNG partner to make RESET a success.

  1. How long have you been the HR manager?

I joined DCNG on April 2023 as the new human resources manager, however, I have been in an HR leadership position within the District since 2015.

  1. What is your background/previous positions?

I have 15 years of human resources experience with a focus on talent acquisition, job classification, and compensation, policy and compliance, and other talent acquisition functions.

I have multiple industry experiences including local government, state government, Department of Defense, federal government contracting, engineering, higher education, and healthcare.

Moreover, I have experience leading a team engaged in the creation of the District of Columbia’s strategic talent acquisition and employment program, including creating standard operating procedures and operations.

  1. What are your office’s HR management priorities?

              My HR management priorities are to:

     I. Change and reenergize employee culture by challenging not only my department but also members of the leadership team to continue to provide high-level customer service, and transparency, build trust and respect, and most importantly adhere to policies and procedures.

     II. Properly align personnel resources to meet or exceed the needs of the agency by working closely with stakeholders.

     III. Roll out HR-focused initiatives with a strong focus on operating strategically, efficiently, and effectively.

  1. What initiatives have been implemented this fiscal year (i.e., PD classification and job alignment, performance evaluation)?

We have started the first steps of classifying new positions to help properly align the reporting structure within the organization. Following this effort, we have rolled out phase one of the performance evaluation initiative by having current supervisors take all required training for them to properly conduct performance reviews.

Once supervisory training has been completed, we will be implementing performance evaluation in FY24. Our plan is to incorporate a hybrid approach of using PeopleSoft and paper review during the initial rollout of the program.

  1. Which initiatives support or align with RESET initiative?

DCGO aligns with the RESET initiative by supporting Line of Efforts (LOE) #3 Process, Key Function Improvement, and #4 Governance. Here's a breakdown of how each initiative contributes to these LOEs:

LOE #3 Process and Key Function Improvement:

  • The HR office has outlined a process flow for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and onboarding. This indicates a focus on streamlining and improving the processes related to employee leave and new employee integration.
  • Identifying 85 position descriptions that need reclassifying to align with the needs of cooperative agreement program managers shows an effort to ensure that job roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and optimized for effective collaboration.

LOE #4 Governance:

  • Developing a process for the agency to conduct performance evaluations in FY24 with PeopleSoft and hard copy demonstrates an emphasis on establishing a structured and consistent approach to evaluating employee performance. This contributes to good governance practices within the agency.

Additionally, the HR office's efforts to develop procedures that promote transparency, engagement, collaboration, and innovation and encourage a culture of continuous learning align with the RESET initiative's broader objectives. These initiatives support the overall goal of improving organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and employee satisfaction by fostering a positive and progressive work environment.

By implementing these procedures and focusing on process improvement, reclassification of positions, and performance evaluation, the DCGO's HR office is actively working towards enhancing the agency's operations, ensuring alignment with cooperative agreement program managers, and fostering a culture of transparency, collaboration, and continuous learning.

  1. How has the implementation of those initiatives increased productivity?

The implementation of the initiative helped increase employee productivity because it eliminated delays in information access for employees. Moreover, new hires are being onboarded and processed more effectively compared to during the pandemic era, helping new hires to focus on performance and training. Finally, rolling out the open-door policy and becoming more transparent has driven the increase in employee satisfaction and morale which is helping in productivity.

  1. Where is the office in terms of meeting the objective(s)?

The office has met each milestone of the objectives and is on track to see the results by the end of this fiscal year and the beginning of the new one.

  1. Where is your office in the RESET process?

Similar to meeting our internal HR objectives, the office is in line and on track with meeting the RESET process.

  1. Are there any new initiatives?

HR is currently evaluating how we can organically operate and independently manage processes that still rely on the District’s HR agency. This is a potential new initiative we hope to explore as it is tied to our current efforts and priorities.

HR implemented an improved onboarding process geared to help new hires become acclimated to their new roles and to the agency.  The improved process starts with in-person orientation, followed by having all logistical items ready for new hires on day one such as their IT account, PeopleSoft information, and CAC application. Moreover, we incorporated the meet and greet session with Director Hunt for new hires to better understand the vision and mission of the agency. We will soon add a meet and greet with the commanding general to the new hires’ checklist so that they might gain further insight into how DCGO fits within the DCNG  mission.

Current supervisors have been tasked to complete all required training to help them better facilitate supervisory roles and to ensure that they remain within compliance of the position. Additionally, we have facilitated training for District and Cooperative Program Managers.

HR, in partnership with the Youth and Family Programs, has implemented a strategic way of communication with all stakeholders. The agency is in the process of launching its District Government Operations website and social media platforms so that information about the agency is available to both external and internal constituents. Also, we have launched the agency Teams channel where employees from all locations can receive information that used to only be available via email and be able to communicate directly with members of the department. Moreover, the department is establishing an HR mailbox where inquiries and issue resolution requests can be sent not only to everyone within the team ensuring a quick response and being able to better track department activities.

  1. Where do you see the HR office in the next 3-5 years?

I see the HR office growing not only by personnel count but also by skill set. I see everyone in my team learning and mastering new skills that will help the office and the agency push forward, evolve, and exceed what is expected of us.

Furthermore, we are aiming and on track to accomplish the following:

  • 100% creation and completion of performance evaluation
  • PD reclassification PD validation every three years to be properly aligned with DCNG needs
  • reduction in time-to-fill of vacant positions
  • increase District resident hires
  • reduce attrition.

Mr. Carlos’s answers can be summed up in his vision. His vision for the DCNG HR office is to be holistically in line with the agency’s vision. The vision is to provide exceptional service and support to DC Government employees and the DC National Guard.

“We want to ensure that we provide high level of customer service, demonstrate transparency and quality, and continuously improve as a department,” Mr. Carlos said.

“Moreover, we aim to recruit, retain, and promote highly qualified personnel to support the vision and mission of the agency.

Finally, I share the agency’s ultimate vision – to promote a smarter culture, enhance our capabilities, and to remain accountable, motivated, respectful, trustworthy, and data and results driven.”

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