Cristen Oehrig recently was named an assistant project manager for the In-Service Vessel Sustainment project (ISVS), four years after joining the Coast Guard’s acquisition workforce through an internship program for recent college graduates.
As the new assistant project manager for the 225-foot WLB Seagoing Buoy Tender Mid-Life Maintenance Availability (MMA) within ISVS (CG-9323), Oehrig develops critical acquisition documents such as the Acquisition Program Baseline, Program Management Plan, Lifecycle Cost Estimate and other information that helps refine future budgetary needs and the project schedule. Oehrig’s project management planning will be called on as her project moves closer to entering the low rate intial production phase and, eventually, full rate production.
ISVS is an important initiative to control maintenance costs and improve the reliability of older vessels that are already near or beyond the end of their expected service lives. ISVS pre-emptively repairs or replaces the most vulnerable hull, mechanical, electrical and electronic systems in older ships to prevent breakdowns, unscheduled repairs, and missed patrol days. The Coast Guard initated the ISVS project as a prudent strategy and an innovative engineering approach designed to keep ships operational until the legacy assets are replaced through the Coast Guard’s recapitalization efforts.
In addition to Oehrig’s WLB project, projects have been established to sustain and enhance major systems of the 140-foot ice breaking tugs and the sail training ship Eagle. ISVS is also in the early phases of developing projects involving the 47-foot motor life boat. These efforts follow on from the successful Mission Effectiveness Project (MEP) that was carried out on the 210-foot medium endurance cutter class and is concluding on the 270-foot medium endurance cutters.
Oehrig enjoys working on a project with such immediate mission execution consequences and believes there was no better place to begin her career than with the Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate.
“Acquisition skills in project management are critical to success in any field,” she explains. “The Acquisition Directorate does a good job of helping its employees to feel the importance of the impact they have on the Coast Guard mission.”
Oehrig has made major contributions to many projects during her short time in the Acquisition Directorate, including her work to oversee and manage contracts, design and launch the Acquisition Lessons Learned Database, released in March 2012, and write a Commandant Instruction on acquisition management roles and responsibilities.
Oehrig gives credit to the WLB MMA team and its experts in the Legacy Sustainment Support Unit at the Surface Forces Logistics Center. She says they form the backbone of this project because of their unparalleled knowledge of sustainment projects and what makes them successful.
“In many ways, I feel ISVS is contributing more to me and to my professional development than I am to it. Being around these knowledgeable and experienced folks on a day-to-day basis allows me to be like a sponge – and though I’m not a sailor or an engineer, I am trying to soak up as much as I possibly can!”
Oehrig has also benefitted the project through her fresh perspective and a background in acquisition process and policy to “help expedite much of the project planning and set the WLB MMA and future ISVS projects up for long-term success as DHS acquisitions.”
“In the military world, people have a ‘get it done’ attitude,” she points out. The Coast Guard’s life saving mission motivates her, and the strong military presence is a constant reminder of the importance of ethics and values in leadership, she says.
The core values inherent in Coast Guard leadership inspire Oehrig to build upon previous successes and develop positive relationships. Oehrig says her project supervisors push her to always expand her knowledge of acquisitions, aiding her growth in overall professionalism.
Oehrig says that Rear Adm. Joseph Vojvodich (CG-93) recently advised that the best way to learn is by putting oneself into uncomfortable situations. Oehrig has sought to do just that while at CG-9.Oehrig has plenty of career opportunities ahead of her, but she finds her new position particularly promising. She explains, “This detail opportunity with CG-9323 provides me with some amazing growth opportunities in the near-term. It will allow me to network with new people, get my hands dirty with mission critical Coast Guard work, and perhaps most importantly, teach me project management skills that will help me advance in acquisition or any other career field.”