USACE Galveston District’s public affairs team earns communication award

Published May 2, 2013
GALVESTON, Texas (May 2, 2013) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Sandra Arnold, APR+M, chief of the Public Affairs Office, and Deputy Public Affairs Chief Isidro Reyna, APR, were recognized with a first place USACE 2012 Locke L. Mouton Award for excellence in the category of Command Information. The award honors public affairs practitioners for superior achievement and promotes outstanding efforts in public affairs activities.

In 2012, the team was tasked with developing an aggressive command information campaign to educate district employees about the organization’s fiscal climate and inform staff of necessary agency-wide budget cutbacks to avoid district layoffs.

“Sandra and Isidro developed a solid communication plan for senior leaders in the district to communicate necessary cutbacks in a respectful way that enabled us to retain the right people with the right skills and to preserve a highly capable force within evolving budgetary constraints,” said Col. Christopher Sallese, USACE Galveston District commander. “The judges evaluated the award nominations on professionalism and expertise in developing communications strategies, articulating facts, perspectives, policies, highlighting successes and taking actions that supports or enables the resolution of issues and recognized the USACE Galveston PAO team as a leader in their field and worthy of this honor.”

Data obtained from informal and formal meetings, content analysis, emails as well as primary and secondary research provided the team with an accurate depiction of the command climate and was used to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities as well as develop effective two-way communication early in the planning and decision-making processes.

“We worked with the district’s leaders to prepare staff for change by providing clear and concise reasons for change early on in the process and implemented avenues to elicit two-way communication from staff to management to gauge the effectiveness of our efforts throughout the process,” said Arnold. “Our frequent and open communication with managers and employees kept morale steady through one of the most difficult economic periods in the district’s recent history.”

The campaign achieved all goals and objectives without the need to implement layoffs and realized no significant reduction in productivity following a 12.8 percent decrease in the workforce.

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Release no. 13-026