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Case Study: Federal government

Facilitating a successful workforce transition and realignment

The client’s perspective

As the world’s first full-service border entity, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  takes a comprehensive approach to border management and control, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection into one coordinated effort focused on keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the Unites States while facilitating lawful international travel and trade.

Within CBP, the U.S. Office of Border Patrol (OBP) is tasked with preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States. To help the Border Patrol maintain effective control of the land between the official ports of entry, the Facilities Management and Engineering’s (FM&E) Border Patrol Facilities and Tactical Infrastructure Program Management Office (BPFTI PMO) provides long-term planning, construction, and maintenance capabilities of both tactical infrastructure and facilities.

FM&E had been asked to take on additional management responsibilities, including moving all facility managers and wage schedule employees that supported the facilities or tactical infrastructure maintenance to FM&E’s BPFTI PMO. This transfer of staff was a major undertaking, tripling the size of BPFTI PMO’s workforce and adding more locations to an already geographically dispersed organization. The added workforce comprised all new job series, whose accompanying competencies were far different from the current workforce.

In addition to now overseeing a variety of new maintenance-related tasks, BPFTI PMO would take over related functions such as payroll, government purchase cards, and management of tools, equipment, and cell phones. This added a level of complexity for the organization, as many of these administrative tasks has not previously been under the purview of the BPFTI and required new competencies and skill sets to appropriately manage them.

The upheaval caused by staff mergers often creates problems with employee morale and retention, and FM&E BPFTI PMO knew a major culture change for all was looming. To successfully merge the new teams with its current staff, strategic change management and clear, targeted communication were critical. To address these concerns, Eagle Hill was brought on to the program to provide change management expertise and strategic communications during the workforce integration.

A new view

To help ensure operations would continue without interruption after the reorganization, Eagle Hill worked with internal and external stakeholders to develop a strategic outreach and communications plan aimed to ensure consistent, clear, targeted communication. Many of the newly integrated staff (such as mechanics, heavy equipment operators, and welders) were not used to receiving communication via channels such as email, so we implemented alternate communication strategies to ensure that all employees, regardless of occupation, were kept informed.

Historically, BPFTI PMO has been composed of program/project managers, architects, and business analysts. The addition of the new staff, which had its own culture and skillsets, greatly impacted the existing culture. To address this, we created a Roles and Responsibilities Integrated Project Team with the goals of clarifying roles and expectations for both employees and managers, and ensuring that all employees were working within their designated position description. Eagle Hill’s approach included structured interviews, in-depth analysis of the interview results, and relevant, targeted recommendations.

With the organization more than tripling in size, all affected processes, policies, and procedures needed review. Eagle Hill systematically targeted four process areas to review and update, beginning with an assessment to determine the current state in each area. We held sessions with subject matter experts to review all impacted processes, and from these we produced four new policy and process documents. Eagle Hill also helped establish and lead a change control board to allow for timely and relevant updates.

Additionally, Eagle Hill worked with BPFTI PMO leadership and supporting organizations across the agency—such as the Office of Border Patrol, Budget, Human Resources, Payroll, Office of Information Technology (OIT), and Organizational Resources and Support (OR&S)—to facilitate a smooth transition of the wage schedule employees and supporting functions.

Finally, our team helped put in place a Service Level Agreement (SLA) Change Control Board (CCB) that solicits input on a regular basis from OBP and BPFTI PMO regarding any changes that need to be made to the SLA or sector-specific appendices. These meetings have been helpful in increasing communication between business partners and addressing outstanding issues.

Unconventional consulting—and breakthrough results

The BPFTI PMO, along with a number of individuals from across CBP, received a Commissioner’s Mission Integration Award for the physical/logistical transition of the Facility Managers and WS employees from OBP to Office of Administration (OA). The purpose of this award is “to recognize a team of employees who demonstrated a cross-organizational approach and worked on behalf of the Agency.” Individuals from directorates agency-wide worked closely to create the cross-organizational approach described in the award, uniting resources from OBP, Budget, HR, Payroll, and OIT, to name only a few, to ensure a seamless conversion of these employees to BPFTI PMO, a process that has continued far beyond the official transition date of June 3, 2012.

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