Coast Guard seeks comments on mariner credentialing

The Coast Guard wants your opinion on how it processes your mariner credentials. The National Maritime Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., has posted a new online survey that seeks comments from mariners about their experiences with the credentialing process.

The 12-question survey provides mariners with an anonymous way to offer feedback — both positive and negative. It takes about seven minutes to complete, and is submitted electronically.

“Feedback provided via the survey will guide improvements to the products and services provided by the NMC, which is why mariner and stakeholder involvement is critical to any future improvements,” Capt. Anthony S. Lloyd, NMC’s commanding officer, said in a statement.

There are two ways to access the survey. Mariners who have provided an email address as part of their application will automatically be sent a link to the survey a few days after their credential has been issued. For those not providing an email address, an access link is available on the NMC website.

The survey will be ongoing for next several years, and comments will help identify specific areas of service that need improvement.

“The survey highlights the major steps of the credentialing process and will allow the NMC personnel to focus efforts on areas where the public may be providing negative feedback,” Lt. Cmdr. M.R. Washburn, chief, Program Support Division at NMC, said in an email. “Simply put, it provides the Coast Guard with a dashboard gauge of how well the program is operating.”

A previous survey elicited a 20 percent response rate of those who have been issued credentials, he said. “Those are good numbers and we are hopeful to get a similar or better response rate this time around. Good, bad or indifferent, your opinion matters and we want to hear it.”

The NMC has been trying to improve communications and services to mariners since it opened in 2008 as a centralized headquarters for mariner licensing and documentation. Previously, the Coast Guard processed applications at 17 Regional Examination Centers scattered across the country.

Considered a dysfunctional bureaucracy that was overloaded by paperwork by both mariners and those in the Coast Guard, the old system was beset by long delays and inconsistent standards in evaluating applications. Under criticism from mariners and members of Congress, former Commandant Adm. Thad Allen embarked on a reform program in 2005 that included new application review standards and the consolidated center.

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