Remarks of Acting Chairman Michael A. Khouri to Staff of the Federal Maritime Commission - Federal Maritime Commission
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Remarks of Acting Chairman Michael A. Khouri to Staff of the Federal Maritime Commission

June 13, 2018

All Hands Meeting
June 2018

Thank you and good morning.

I would like to go over our FY 2019 Budget status and then our progress with the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. Last, I want to share some personal thoughts on our agency.

The Commission’s Congressional budget request is $27,490,000, which is the same amount as our current funding level. That supports a headcount of 129. So we are moving forward with some hiring, I think we have two postings out for economists in BTA now. The Senate Appropriations committee has reported the T-HUD bill that included the FMC mark at $27,490,000 and the House had previously passed the same amount. So now, we wait on final Congressional action that would start the FY 2019 budget in October.

I am pleased with the work each of you accomplish with these resources. You just heard about a number of initiatives and projects that are moving forward. One more project I want to recognize is the Bureau of Trade Analysis and the Office of Information Technology’ project to modernize one of our IT systems – SERVCON. It is currently in testing mode and should be ready for roll out soon.

Regarding the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the form has been sent to 115 of our eligible employees. Todd mentioned our current response rate. While we may be ahead of the government-wide response rate, I really encourage everyone to take the time to share your thoughts through participating in the Survey.

As mentioned earlier, the senior management team really goes over the Survey results in depth – question by question – and they guide us in future workplace improvement projects. And it is not only the problem areas we want to learn about, we are also interested in the areas where we are doing things right. That way, we can focus efforts to accentuate those positive areas.

The Survey closes at the end of the day next Tuesday, June 19th. Again, I encourage all of you to provide your input.

Last, as I said, a personal note. I want to share with you a portion of a speech that I read last week. We comment at times the bi-partisan, or non-partisan, nature of our work here at the Commission, so with a nod to our Commissioner from New York, this is a speech given by the junior Senator from New York 52 years ago.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all of those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

[Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, address, University of Cape Town, South Africa. June 6, 1966]

Lofty and inspirational words indeed. SO – how do those words relate to us – you and me – today, this morning, tomorrow and to our work.

Each of us have chosen government service and – I believe – we embrace the many challenges that we face each day.

Given – there are days when the tasks seem routine, or tedious. There are also days when good work is recognized, and you go home with a warm glow in your heart – and your child, or partner, or dog looks up and asks – did you have a good day at work? – and you smile and say – yes, today was a good day.

Each one of you play a role in our collective efforts to ensure competition and integrity for America’s ocean supply chain. Each one of you, when called upon, stand up for that ideal. Each one of you, at every opportunity, acts to improve the lot of another – an import or export shipper, an nvo, a freight forwarder, a marine terminal, a drayage company, a passenger on a cruise ship.

These ripples of hope come from —

The folks in Certification and Licensing, trying to weed out the unworthy license applicants.

BOE trying to catch the bad actors.

Our area representatives, both running investigations in the field and representing the FMC in countless public forums.

CADRS folks trying to help a person who just wants their lifetime of personal possessions and furniture delivered to their new residence overseas.

For the folks in Trade Analysis, doing the study and work and push back and forth with agreement applicants – and their always courteous polite attorneys — to be sure that fair competition will continue once an agreement goes into effect.

For all of the dedicated attorneys in the GC’s office who work to provide legal advice and support to all of the offices and bureaus.

For Rachel’s team in the Secretary’s office that support all of the incoming filings and outgoing notices to all nature of public entities.

For the dedicated staff in our administrative offices that support all of us.

Budget and Finance keeping the bills paid, keeping us paid, and importantly, keeping our Congressionally authorized funds properly accounted for.

Information Technology keeping all of the IT infrastructure up, running and helping every one of us every day.

Human Resources supporting our most valuable resource – you and your crewmates in your department and throughout the agency.

Management Services, whose multi-mission tasks include having the doors open in the morning, doors secured in the evening and then everything else in between, so our facilities are safe, secure, and are a comfortable environment in which to work in each day.

Our Law Judges, who work to apply the law to numerous different complaints and scenarios and produce fair, coherent, and comprehensive decisions so that both sides can understand their reasoned application of the law to the facts as presented, and further, so the regulated stakeholders can adapt their behavior in the future.

Karen – did I leave anyone out? Yes!

All of the folks in the Managing Director’s office who work tirelessly to coordinate all of these activities.

Last – not least – the dedicated staff that support not just my office but the entire agency.

Our Chief of Staff, our Legislative and Public Affairs officer, our Inspector General, our Equal Employment Opportunity Officer, my Counsel, and Holly – all contribute to our mission in so many ways.

Each one of you – in your daily work and accomplishments – modest as any one single act may be – sends forth a tiny ripple of hope to the many stakeholders who rely on you and all of us.

And those many ripples cross and collectively build a current, a tide, that ensures that this part of America’s economy that Congress assigned to us for safekeeping does indeed operate with

Robust competition and the highest of integrity.

Thank you