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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Dec. 6, 2023

Commandant sets course for Coast Guard to improve accountability, transparency

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG staff writer

The Coast Guard released a report on the Service’s workforce culture and climate, accompanied by a memo from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan directing 33 initial actions. These documents can be found here.  

Earlier today the workforce received an email from the Commandant and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) addressing the need for change. 

“We are incredibly proud of our workforce and culture that values honor, respect and devotion to duty. In some places in our Coast Guard, however, there is currently a disconnect between the workplace experience we talk about, and the experiences our people are actually having,” wrote Adm. Linda Fagan and MCPOCG Heath Jones in their e-mail. “Any disconnect between the core values we revere and the actual experience of each member of our workforce harms our people, erodes trust, and undermines our readiness to execute our missions.” 

The report is the result of a 90-day Accountability and Transparency Review (ATR) that analyzed current law, policy, processes, practices, resources and Service culture relevant to preventing and responding to sexual assault, harassment and other harmful behaviors in the Coast Guard. The ATR team visited Coast Guard units around the country to hear from members about their experiences. The team also examined relevant studies conducted since 1990 and engaged with the other Services and several organizations with shared values and goals. 

“Acknowledging broken trust within the Service is an important first step in reestablishing it,” the Commandant wrote. “I have directed 33 initial actions with specific timelines to ensure every member of our workforce has an experience aligned to our core values and free from harassment, assault, hazing, bullying, hate, or retaliation.” 

The Commandant directed actions include: 

Reinforcing our Core Values 

The Commandant directed actions to reinforce shared definitions for each Core Value to reduce the likelihood of individual interpretations and help build a more unified Coast Guard.  

Structural changes 

Organizational changes will optimize prevention efforts, policies and oversight. 

  • The Coast Guard will establish an Integrated Primary Prevention (IPP) Program Office to align resources and capabilities. Since many harmful behaviors share similar risk and protective factors, integrating efforts to prevent incidents of sexual assault, harassment, suicidal ideation, domestic violence, child abuse and other such issues is essential to promote unity of effort and better serve the Coast Guard members.  
  • The Coast Guard Academy Superintendent will report directly to the Vice Commandant instead of to the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support to ensure appropriate senior leader visibility of all critical issues.  

Training improvements 

The ATR report found “training does not support SAPRR awareness at proper times in a member’s career.” Therefore, changes to training will start with senior executives and extend to all members.  

  • The Commandant will host a Senior Executive ATR Implementation Summit to affirm senior leaders’ roles in implementing these directed actions and communicate her expectations to create a culture of accountability and transparency. 
  • Each of the commanders’ conferences (such as the Aviation Commanding Officers Conference and Sector Commander Conference) will include robust conversations on leadership and climate.  
  • The mandatory training for next calendar year will have a Sexual Assault Prevention, Response and Recovery (SAPRR) online module separate from the Resiliency module. By the year 2025, SAPRR training for all hands will be held in-person instead of online. Additionally, the Coast Guard will expand Bystander Intervention Training to all hands to equip members with the necessary skills and resources to intervene across a range of harmful situations. 
  • The Coast Guard will establish a course for members to attend immediately upon completion of recruit training and before reporting to their first unit. This training will help introduce new members to our Core Values and provide fundamental lessons in followership and leadership. 
  • The Coast Guard Academy will improve the cadet summer training program (swab summer) by increasing supervision and will explore right-sizing companies and leadership teams.  

Member support and guidance 

The Coast Guard will provide commands and members with the necessary tools and resources to prevent, respond to, and recover from incidents of sexual assault and harassment. 

  • The Coast Guard will create a toolkit to equip commands with the resources to publicly address matters when they arise and limit rumors and false narratives. The toolkit will guide commands on messaging and communications with crews following a report or investigation of sexual assault or harassment, taking into account personal privacy concerns and the need to protect the integrity of investigative efforts. The Service will create a SAPRR Resource Hub providing easy access to information on awareness, prevention, accountability, victim support, recovery and resilience.  
  • Through the Coast Guard Mentoring Program, victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment will be able to be paired with a mentor knowledgeable on SAPRR policies and procedures.  
  • Because collateral misconduct can be a barrier to reporting, the Coast Guard will develop a safe-to-report policy that prescribes the handling of minor collateral misconduct involving a member who is the victim of an alleged sexual assault. 

These actions are the Coast Guard’s latest efforts to promote a service culture where every member has a safe place to work and access to the resources they need. Other recent initiatives include:  

  • Establishing the Office of the Chief Prosecutor (OCP), whose jurisdiction covers victim-centric offenses and which consolidates disposition authority into a single entity for sexual assault and sexual harassment, among other covered offenses. 
  • Instituting a confidant protection policy that allows a victim to confide in another Coast Guard member without requiring that member to notify their command, in recognition that a victim receiving support from a friend or family member is vital in the aftermath of sexual assault. 
  • Revising the Good Order and Discipline Notice to increase transparency regarding corrective actions to address substantiated harassment reports. 

Taken as a whole, the Commandant’s latest directed actions are geared toward improving workplace culture moving forward.  

The Commandant’s Directed Actions, ATR report and supporting documents can be found on the USCG Commandant's Always Ready Page.   


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