[B][FONT=Tahoma][B]From:[/B][/FONT][/B] [FONT=Tahoma]Raymond Butler [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
[B][B]Sent:[/B][/B] Thursday, February 05, 2009 8:39 PM
[B][B]To:[/B][/B] Raymond Butler
[B][B]Subject:[/B][/B] License Renewal Issues Update from Capt. Stalfort Today[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]I met one of our industry wheelmen helping us out with the Lake Borgne Floodgate simulations in Vicksburg yesterday. He was a bright young professional, on his third issue, and representing our industry very well at ERDC. I am thankful for his company sending him. He was telling me that he has not been able to hold a watch since January 14 due to license renewal issues since submitting his paperwork in October of last year. I tried to imagine myself in his predicament, and it was not a pleasant feeling at all. I was being prevented from earning my living in a position that I had worked hard for, by a “process system” of paperwork review. Anyway…a series of emails resulted today, and Capt. Dave Stalfort, Commander of the NMC, responded with the below (after 2100 hours his time, I might add!). I know Dave and his folks are trying very hard to address this huge problem, so I wanted to share his remarks below with you all. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]It seems to me that some sort of interim, simple document could be issued immediately upon receiving the renewal paperwork, that would allow an “IN PROCESS” mariner the ability to continue to work until his processing had been completed by the system? I’m sure this idea has been vetted before, but I’ve not followed this to know well enough. The induced “risk” in this would seem to be minimal. I really feel for those guys who have been kept from working during the worst crewing crisis our industry has seen in years.[/FONT]
I want to let you know what the Coast Guard is doing about the current delays. I’ll be disributing this information shortly through our email subscription service and web site.
Over the past 6 months, NMC has issued over 36,000 credentials. 18,000 of those credentials were issued in less than 30 days. Unfortunately, the NMC’s average overall processing time of 80 days is not yet where we want it to be. While a portion of delays in processing is attributable to waiting for mariners to submit additional information, the delay for 16% of mariners is primarily the result of production bottlenecks in the medical evaluation stage of the credential evaluation process due to insufficient capacity in our medical evaluations branch. This is unacceptable and we are taking the following actions to immediately remedy the problem and ensure it does not occur in the future.
Immediate Process Changes: NMC has implemented enhanced risk-based screening procedures to streamline the medical evaluation process and is prioritizing all credential renewals in inventory to focus on current credentials that have expired or are near expiration. This process is specifically designed to keep working mariners employed. 950 credentials have been produced and mailed out over the last two days as a result of this change, and we’re on track to issue another 500 tomorrow.
Surging Resources Now: The Coast Guard is surging a full range of national resources to assist us with medical screenings and evaluations including: medically trained Coast Guard Auxiliary members; Coast Guard active duty medical staff from around the country; and Public Health Service personal. NMC has also increased the medical staffing contract in our Medical Evaluations Branch to provide additional capacity.
Building Long Term Capabilities: The Coast Guard is taking measures to expand the size of the medical evaluation branch to ensure long-term capacity to meet the medical evaluation demand and ensure efficient processing. The Coast Guard is also looking to enhance the credentialing database to enable electronic workflow to improve both the efficiency and quality of the screening and evaluation process.
Our January report, which is posted on our web site at www.uscg.mil/nmc has additional information on processing time and other actions we’re taking to reduce processing time.
I’ll keep you informed of progress.
CAPT David C. Stalfort
National Maritime Center