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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 23, 2024

Congratulations to our award-winning Deck Plate Developers

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Senior Writer

In her recent town hall, Adm. Linda Fagan challenged Coast Guard members to come up with ways to improve outdated and inefficient processes. 

If the results of the Coast Guard’s first Power Platform Science Fair are any indication, she’ll find plenty of in-house talent to take her up on this. 

The Power Platform Science Fair, held late last month, crowned four winners — all members who had developed applications to streamline some aspect of Coast Guard work. The winners were selected from 10 finalists (out of 56 entries) who got to present their micro-apps to a panel of judges that included Rear Adm. Chad Jacoby, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, and Rear Adm. Russell Dash, commander, Personnel Service Center.  

During the event, seven judges questioned these deck plate developers, ala Shark Tank before deciding how much to invest in each app.  When it came time to tally the winners, however, it was a three-way tie. “Data doesn’t lie,” Jacoby said. “If the data shows three winners, we have three winners.” (It didn’t hurt that he’d had a couple of extra awards.) 

Here’s more about the winners, as well as the winner of the People’s Choice Award, which was the top vote getter from the event’s 381 attendees and an additional People’s Choice Award for an app for foreign travel that’s already being used in the field. 

Best All-Around 

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Adam Peers for OER Lifecycle Tracker  

Peers’ app automates the officer evaluation submission process, allowing individuals to easily check their OER submission status and enabling rating chain visibility throughout the process. “The two most common questions I hear are where is my OER right now, and does it have to be this difficult,” said Peers, C5ISC tech support branch chief. Creating a way to track this information in one place seemed like a no-brainer. “Managers loved it,” he added. “And I love doing this. I do it at nights and on weekends. There are so many processes you can automate.” Peers joined the Coast Guard 15 years ago, thinking he would be a diver, but says he figured out pretty quickly that he belonged in IT. Now he spends a few hours a week helping members who contact him about their own app ideas. “They’re so motivated it motivates me,” he said. One of his mentees, in fact, is also the next winner. 

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jennifer (Jen) Brown for All CG Document Router - No Download Needed!   

Brown joined the Coast Guard in March 2000, after deciding college wasn’t for her. “I didn’t know what I wanted to be,” she said. “I actually didn’t figure that out until three years ago.” That was during the pandemic when she started working with Microsoft and developing some tools. Her idea was an app that created a standard way for all members in the Coast Guard to route items for approval. “I’m a yeoman by trade, so I’ve spent a lot of time chasing documents and folders,” she said. “This has been a problem I’ve dealt with for my entire career.” She sought out Peers, and credits him with helping it all come together. “One of the things I’m pretty good at is making the app look good,” she said, “If you don’t have an interface people like, no one will use it.” 

Lt. Cmdr. Yusen Guo for Open Obligations Management Tool (OOMAT) 

Guo’s app enables enterprise-wide users to review and monitor the Coast Guard’s open obligations, to help identify funds that are no longer needed and can be repurposed for other uses. “It enables us to be smarter about how we use government money,” said Guo, a deputy division chief in the Office of Resource Management. He came up with the idea for the app when FSMS was having major problems and learned Power Platform fundamentals to develop it. “I think the fact that I came up from Aviation and Prevention helped me because I could really relate to the frontline people trying to run a cutter and not having time to track these issues down,” he said. Since OOMAT’s launch on June 1, 2023, users throughout the Coast Guard have used the app to review 72,123 financial records to verify whether funds set aside were needed. That’s resulted in learning a total of $109.1 million was no longer obligated and could likely be repurposed for other uses. 

People’s Choice Awards  

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gregory Seufer for Dive Program and Remotely Operated Vehicle Applications 

Seufer grew up on Lake Erie, where watching Coast Guard rescue operations inspired him to join the service. Years ago, he started experimenting with databases to reduce the administrative burden of dealing with so many emails and forms. “I absolutely hate emails,” he said. “I’m better at writing code.” He got the idea for his app, which tracks maintenance, training, operations, and references for divers, after running dive lockers around the country. Since then, he’s been asked to create similar apps for the armory and small arms in his free time. Seufer says he’s excited leadership has become interested in this technology and would love the see a Coast Guard App Team. “It’s like we’ve had a light bulb moment where the Coast Guard can take advantage of these tools and applications,” he said. “Imagine if you had a team to implement them. It would make a huge difference in people’s lives.” 

Paul Rudick, for Foreign Travel app 

Rudick, program manager for the LANTAREA Anti-Terrorism and Force Protection (ATFC), earned special mention for an app he created to assist with foreign travel. The app allows members to check rules and requirements for official and unofficial travel by country, see foreign clearance guidelines, changing threat levels, health, and other information. Rudick said he got the idea for the app from the three years he spent in International Port Security for the Coast Guard before retiring in 2018. “I did not want to make everyone who travels have to go through what I did,” he said. Rudick’s app, which is accessible to anyone with a CAC, went live in January 2023 and had about 18,000 users last year. Currently, it’s on track for about 25,000 this year. In the future, he’d like to add links to training required for some travel. “But what we’ve got now is definitely working and helping,” he said.  



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