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Posted 8/15/2013

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By Elizabeth Lockyear
Albuquerque District Public Affairs


In an era of resource constraints, the Corps is continually seeking ways to cut the cost of doing business and do more with less.

One effective method is collaborating with other federal government agencies. The District is a strong supporter of the New Mexico Federal Executive Board (NMFEB) and has participated in NMFEB programs and activities for many years.

The NMFEB is part of the Federal Executive Boards, established by Presidential Directive in 1961 with the mission “to create value to the public by fostering communication, coordination and collaboration with Federal, State, and local government agencies.” To this end they provide targeted training programs, employee development, shared resources, and local community outreach and participation.

The NMFEB is comprised of 94 federal agencies representing over 33,000 federal employees in New Mexico. Collaboration pays big and not just in money as Cheryl Buckel recently learned. Buckel, a strategic planner with the District, held a series of five workshops aimed at leadership development this past spring.

“One of my passions is teaching others and several of the classes I teach through the Leadership Development Program and at UNM [University of New Mexico], Anderson graduate school, seemed to be a good fit with the executive leaders of the NMFEB,” Buckel said. “So I proposed a series of five workshops with topics including Strategic Planning, Mentoring, Strengths Based Leadership, Team Building, and Initiating Projects, one subject taught consecutive months for 3 hours each.”

Buckel said that while some federal agencies have abundant training choices, others have fewer opportunities. Collaboration is especially beneficial to these agencies. She put her workshops together to provide training in leadership skills, focusing on what she calls the “soft skills.” Buckel based her sessions around five core ideas of leadership: think ahead; understand people and their motivations; mentor them to where they need to go; use their strengths to the best advantage and teach them how to initiate projects using this information to achieve better success.

Buckel had students from various federal agencies including the Air Force Laboratory, U.S. Forest Service, Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration, and Defense Threat Reduction Agency. She said she was enlightened by the different perspectives and solutions discussed in the sessions.

“While there were many similarities, there were also some great successes that others took away from each session and apply directly to their own work,” she said.

“After the five months was over, 17 students graduated from the program, and the best part was that these courses were offered to them free of charge. U.S. Department of Agriculture provided the conference room, and the Corps provided the projector and my labor. The total cost avoidance for this training was $37,000 after my costs were subtracted,” Buckel said, describing the resource savings.

When asked if she would teach either the same or new workshops again Buckel said, “I want to! It’s something I enjoy doing.”

albuquerque district collaboration Corps of Engineers federal employees Federal Executive Board leadership NMFEB training USACE workshops