By Steve HardingMarch 8, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 8, 2007) - In his last official interview March 7, outgoing Secretary of the Army Dr. Francis J. Harvey reflected with pride on many facets of his 28-month tenure.
"I'm very proud of my close partnership with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker," he said, "and I think that, working with other members of this great Army team, we've accomplished some important things."
Among the accomplishments he is most proud of since being appointed by President Bush in November 2004, Harvey said, are those that improved the lot of Soldiers. Among these is the Barracks Improvement Program that he initiated in early 2005. The program's objective was to bring 20,000 substandard barracks units to acceptable quality standards within one year, a goal that was accomplished in record time.
Also important, Harvey said, are the strides the Army has made in recruiting new Soldiers. When he took office in 2004 the Army was not meeting its recruiting goals, and he formed and personally led a task force that planned and implemented a variety of actions. Those initiatives and other supporting actions turned around the decline in recruiting, and in fiscal 2006 the active Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve all saw significant increases in the number of new Soldiers, he said.
The initiative for which Harvey is perhaps best known, however, is Army Transformation, an effort that thus far has seen some 212 brigade combat teams and multifunctional and functional support brigades converted to the Modular Design Force model.
"We're building the Army of the future through transformation and modernization," Harvey said. "Transformation is two-dimensional; it's force transformation centered around the Army modular force, and its business transformation."
The business transformation effort is centered on the application of a business methodology called Lean Six Sigma, and is an Armywide program Harvey initiated in 2004. The ongoing program is intended to improve the business processes of every unit in the Army in order to both improve their effectiveness and free up resources that could be used to support operations elsewhere.
"Every unit in the Army has a comprehensive, continuous long-range business-transformation plan which focuses on continuous improvement of their operations in areas such as processes, organizations and information systems," Harvey said. "The idea is to reduce the cost and improve the quality of operations."
Given the vastness of the Army - more than a million active, Guard and Reserve Soldiers; some 500,000 civilian employees and contractors; 4,100 installations and centers; and 15 million acres of land - the transformation effort will continue for some time, Harvey said.
"But we've established an Army vision, and we've established the overarching strategies to make that vision a reality," he said. "All these strategies reflect the Army's most important focus, which is to provide for the wellbeing of Soldiers and families."
Harvey's interest in and concern for Soldiers has taken him to more than 150 installations and forward operating bases in nine countries, and he's made eight trips to the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Looking back on his tenure as the 19th secretary of the Army, Harvey said he's "very proud of what has been accomplished by the Army team." He also said that being able to serve the nation is a desire he's had since his 1978 stint as a White House fellow, an experience that instilled in him a profound sense of the importance of service to the people, and the desire to serve the country.
"In the end, that's what I feel especially good about - having had the opportunity to serve my country," Harvey said.