ISS1 2015

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Centralized Service Desk: Saving the Coast Guard – One Trouble Ticket at a Time Story and photos by PA2 Ayla Kelley Got a problem with your e-mail, can't remember your password, the phone has no dial tone? Then it's probably time to submit a help ticket to CGFIX- IT. Since its opening in October of 2011 members of the Centralized Service Desk in St. Louis, Missouri have become the first responders of Coast Guard Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Information Technology systems issues. This means that whenever a member of the Coast Guard (active, reserve, or civilian) has an issue with their computer, phone or other service electronics it must first be reported to the CSD before the equipment can be repaired or replaced. With 46 Coast Guardsmen, eight government civilians and 65 contractors the CSD is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The reason for centralizing is simple: standardization. Master Chief Jonathon Dutsch, an information systems technician and senior enlisted advisor of the CSD, said for all the Electronic Support Units and their detachments there are differences in how issues are managed during daily operations. Someone may walk–in and have an issue resolved quickly and it'll never be documented. With the CSD, the "who, what, where, when, why, and how" is all recorded and executed the same way. "Centralizing these types of tasks is the future," said Bruce Shoemake, Deputy of the CSD. "We are providing metrics the Coast Guard has never seen before." The choice of locating the CSD in St. Louis was also simple in that the Mid-West has a more stable environment. There aren't the common earthquakes of the west coast nor the hurricane season of the east coast. Being in the central time zone is also an added bonus for tickets coming in from places such as Alaska and Hawaii. Since the CSD is less than five-years-old there is still a lot of training involved for both new third classes and experienced first classes and contractors. It takes anywhere from two weeks to a month for someone to become a floor analyst. This involves learning the policies, procedures, and software used when assisting customers. In addition to the technical side, members are trained in "soft skills" or customer service said Shoemake. "Because there is such a broad spectrum, training is ongoing with updates to policies such as security requirements or software updates. We do our best to stay ahead," Shoemake said. For a contractor with no military background there is the additional training in general Coast Guard knowledge. Patrick Hodge, a CSD contractor and St. Louis local, said he had "not a clue" about military ranks when he started. "I never went through qualifications before; it was kind of daunting getting a board. On the civilian side it's just a resume and interview. I failed my first ranks and chain of command test, but I know them now," said Hodge. According to Shoemake, having contractors like Hodge provides the CSD more stability. "A challenge is this type of IT work is different from normal Coast Guard IT work. And they (contractors) will be here to provide continuity through the military transfers," said Shoemake. With an average of 30,000 tickets a month or roughly 1,300 a day the more qualified people working the better as there can be a lot of steps involved in fixing a problem. Members of the CSD are split into specialized teams based on skills and knowledge. When a help ticket comes in the "quick fixes," such as password resets, are completed by the first contact resolution team. When the problem requires a hands-on repair, like a broken phone or laptop, a message is sent to the local ESU/ESD and they report back when the job is complete. "They are the touch labor force. They handle what has to be fixed by hand [instead of] remotely," said Shoemake. If it requires more time it's passed off to the appropriate team. How long it takes to resolve an issue is dependent on numerous factors varying from call volume (Mondays are busier than Fridays), customer availability, information available, or the technician's knowledge of the complexity of the problem itself. There are ways to help to cut down the time any one individual has to wait to resolve a problem. The consensus among Coast Guardsmen and contractors is to provide details. "Be as specific as possible. Try to give the computer name and its location," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Sonny Mabaquiao. "Also, make sure everything is plugged in and turned on. Sometimes it's the simple things. For a reservist, it might be better to call to get a resolution while drilling." Even though the vast majority of the work coming in is phone and computer related, it's not just the information systems technicians getting in on the action. There is a small but important team of electronics technicians also working at the CSD. ET1 Class Jesse Richardson says their primary responsibilities include processing messages from the message board, casualty reporting, and site visit requests and coordination with ESU/ESD's. "We do, do customer service such as equipment orders. It's not operational and outside from what ETs normally do, so it's an adjustment," said Richardson. "We do in house training since Petty Offcer 3rd Class Cherish Angell practices patching phone cables at the Centralized Service Desk in St. Louis April 5, 2013. Third Class Petty Offcers rotate every three months within the Systems Support Services to stay current in their IT qualifcations. 50 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2015

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