ERDC trio selected to federal government’s Senior Executive Service

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Officials with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Tuesday honored three department heads on their selection to the federal government’s Senior Executive Service.

Dr. Lance Hansen, director of ERDC’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois; Dr. David Horner, director of the Information Technology Lab in Vicksburg; and Dr. Ty Wamsley, director of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory in Vicksburg were honored during ceremonies at ERDC Headquarters.

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Members of the Senior Executive Service serve in key positions just below the top presidential appointees and are the link between the employees and the federal workforce.

The position, ERDC director Dr. David Pittman said, is the civilian equivalent of a general officer, adding there are about 8,000 senior executives over more than 700 federal agencies.

Congress, through the Civil Service Reform Act, he said, established the positions to provide high-level senior visionary leadership for the government. 

“So these three join those ranks; it’s very prestigious ranks to join,” Pittman said.

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers chief of engineers, said the SES appointment “is the next step in the leadership journey for these outstanding individuals.

“It really commemorates the confidence, the extreme confidence, that we place on all three of these great leaders,” he said. “Today is not a prize; today is not reward for doing good work. It’s not a thank you.

“This is much more about the faith that we place in these people because of demonstrated potential to be able to serve at higher levels, and even higher levels of a lot more responsibility, more people, more resources and to a degree, more stress.”

Semonite said the executives must be sure every decision they make “is a morally, ethically — a leadership compass point that points to true north.

“They have to be leaders of change; the ability to establish an organizational vision and implement it in a continuously changing environment. They’ve got to be good leaders.”

He said the leaders have to be results driven and have the ability to produce high quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems and calculating risk and finding a solution.

They must also be able to build coalitions and relationships with other organizations.

The purpose of the SES corps, Semonite said, “Is to ensure that the executive management of the government of the United States is responsive to the needs, the policies and the goals of the nation and otherwise is of the highest quality.

He said Hansen, Horner and Wamsley embodied those qualities “and that’s why we’re here to day to honor their unwavering commitment to leading out world-class operation.”

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Hansen joined EDC in 1996. He has a master’s and Ph.D. in engineering from Purdue University. He was named director of the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in 2018.

Horner holds degrees from Oklahoma State University and the University of Michigan. He joined ERDC in 1986, and named director of the Information Technology Laboratory in 2018.

Wamsley joined ERDC in 2000. He has degrees from the University of Houston, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M and Lund University. He was named director of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory in 2018.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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