Thursday, August 13, 2009

Your Opinion Matters

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine.

Full article by CDR Craig S. Swirbliss, Chief, Operations and Oversight Division, U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center, available at

The Mariner Licensing and Documentation (MLD) program continually strives to understand the needs of its customers. The challenge is to satisfy the mariner without compromising regulations. The operations and oversight division at the National Maritime Center (NMC) implements mariner satisfaction surveys and coordinates the actions among the regional examination centers (RECs) and appropriate Coast Guard offices.

Responding to the Surveys
When the Coast Guard receives mariner feedback, our first priority is to identify any problems or complaints regarding the local REC, the NMC, or the program as a whole and quickly address these complaints.

Regardless of the source, all complaints and concerns will be entered into the system and dealt with in a timely manner. By observing specific complaints over time, we are able to identify trends and respond by changing processes or policy to address them.

Analyzing the Data
After the NMC addresses immediate issues, staff reviews the survey satisfaction data on a global level to help prioritize projects. The numerical data are analyzed to target REC-specific or program-level improvement opportunities.

What’s Next?
Once we have responded to initial comments and analyzed the data, we will make the data results visible and available to the Coast Guard staff and to the public. We have a Coast Guard listserve where we notify subscribers of news regarding our process. We will relay the survey results to our mariner customers via this listserve or publish the results on the website.

About the author:
CDR Swirbliss manages ongoing improvements to the mariner credential production process and coordinates the efforts of the 17 RECs. He previously served as REC chief in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. He is a Coast Guard Academy graduate and holds master’s degrees in management and industrial and operations engineering.

For more information:
Full article and 124-page “Focus on the Mariner” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at Subscribe online at

Direct requests for print copies of this edition to: