The University of Nebraska at Omaha, with the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska, has been awarded a $150,000 contract with U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to streamline and update database processes to increase efficiencies for the command’s personnel team.
From UNO, Dustin White, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics, Patricia Meglich, Ph.D., professor of management, and Benjamin Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of economics, are combining their expertise in human resources, process analysis and data assessments to dive into the 12-month project and deliver a final dashboard system to USSTRATCOM by October 2021.
"This is similar to another project I recently completed for USSTRATCOM,” said White, principal investigator for the project. “The command has this tremendous wealth of data, and they are constantly innovating ways to make it more efficient to work with while generating more sophisticated insights and reports. We are honored they have called on UNO and NSRI again to help them in this process.”
USSTRATCOM personnel total nearly 150,000 across the globe, with about 3,500 assigned at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Neb. With military personnel coming from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Space Force, as well as Department of Defense (DOD) civilians, the command needs more efficient ways to manage the information that flows in and out of the personnel databases that support the many teams involved in its deterrence mission.
After completing this research effort, the USSTRATCOM personnel team will have an automated process to identify discrepancies in the various personnel databases and to share information and provide updates more efficiently than the manually intensive process used today.
Meglich brings an extensive background of private-sector human resources management and business application as well as academic research and teaching. She will serve as the subject matter expert on the project to ensure the data is built properly for use by an HR team.
“This project will deliver important and useful outcomes to the STRATCOM team that will enable them to work more effectively,” she said. “Working on this project offers me the chance to help our partners to do their best work — my guiding force for all that I do."
Smith, who previously ran a software company, is assisting White in building the technical components of the project. Within their academic appointments, Smith and White spend their time working to understand and develop best practices, allowing them to be deliberate when developing a solution for a customer.
"Technology is a moving target — there are always new technologies available for developers to try,” Smith said. “However, the best way to utilize a new technology is to implement it in a big project where the new technology is particularly appropriate. I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”
There are many benefits to this type of project, White said. First and foremost, there is a sense of grander purpose whenever he can support USSTRATCOM — serving in a small way to support the national security mission of the DOD.
The project also provides an opportunity to challenge himself as a researcher and practitioner while providing depth to what and how he teaches his students who are the potential future DOD workforce.
"It’s projects like these that can help you build your expertise, meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet and create student experiences,” White said. “This work teaches you how to do things in a new way, a better way, and how to widen your world view.”
(Photo by the University of Nebraska at Omaha)