Week 10 Exxon Valdez oil Communication Discussion

Respond by Day 5 to two colleagues by suggesting other steps to improve department- wide communication. Respond to Darrel as if you are having a conversation. Ask a question

Communication among leaders and teams is vital in successful goals and achievements. This was not the case in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The organizational influence was birth through the Washburne-Doane expedition of 1870 according to Kurtz. The attitude was one of a can-do spirit, integrity that was beyond the self-serving ideas of privatized ownership. The National Park Service (NPS) began with the culture of the patrolling U.S. Calvary Troops of Yellowstone and other parks. These hardy troopers and their ranger successors brought with them traditions of independent action and initiative that, in turn, fostered a Park Service culture of decentralized management (Kurtz, 2003). The NPS encouraged independence with the use of on-site resources to protect and preserve wildlife and bring enjoyment to park visitors.

The type of mandate of individualism with Park Rangers was evident within each park with care for and treated separately instead of as a set of parks within NPS. According to Kurtz, Rangers referred to the park they managed as “My Park.” The influence a separate process from other organizations and park rangers. Park superintendents have traditionally tended to define issues and make decisions regarding the implications for their parks (Kurtz, 2003). The NPS could have problems with processes, not only within their organization but also with other organizations when a more significant the problem arises; such as the 10.8 million gallons of oil into the Prince William Sound. However, the NPS was more than enough with handling fires as the processes within the organization are sound moreover, finessed individually with the Rangers, superintendents, lower level employees, and throughout the NPS as a whole, but the NPS agency could not handle anything other than an issue with fires, and they proved that their organization would make bad decisions about the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Communication with leaders of other organizations, a sense of urgency with clean up, and the underestimated damage of natural resources are important issues the NPS faced. Since there were not any new emergency processes in place to handle the problems that require input and action of other organizational involvement. The NPS was unable to properly take on the oil spill, communicate, follow the current federal process, foresee that the spill could be more extensive than the first estimation, and take control of the problem without wasting resources. On March 24, 1989, at 12:04 A.M., The 987-foot tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef, 25 miles out of Valdez, Alaska, on a heading for Long Beach. California (Kurtz, 2003). By April, the NPS discovered the estimated 10.8 million gallons of crude oil would spill out to other areas and parks covered and maintained by the NPS. The U.S. Coast Guard was the FOSC, or federal on-scene coordinator overseeing the oil spill. Critics accused the NPS of squandering precious resources. It replied that since neither Exxon nor the Coast Guard was “on-scene,” it was up to the Park Service to assume a leader hip role (D. Ames, personal communication, June 9, 1989; A. Castellina, personal com­munication, June 15, 1989; Kurtz 1994). The agency was more mindful of maintaining and caring for resources than working with a sense of urgency.

Communication was secure when kept within the NPS, but difficult for the service to keep up with other organizations. The NPS was not in their comfort zone, except using a centralized communication system. The ICS is a nationally recognized crisis-management system first developed for wildland fire-fighting in California (Kurtz, 2003). The use of this communication system did not work well with the NPS maintaining control, comfort zone, and accessibility during the cleanup and inspection of the parks and wildlife in Alaska. The flow of communications between park superintendents, the NPS Alaska Regional Office, and ICTs was often unclear (Kurtz, 2003). The teams working on site felt left out of the loop with others unsure of how to use the communications system and also restricted the cleanup process of the natural resources. The NPS pushed for the more natural cleansing of resources and more intense cleansing methods to save spawning areas and bird nests. The contrast between the NPS and other organizations on cleansing oil spilled areas caused a significant issue with safely cleaning resources. The disagreement between organizations meant the NPS was giving up control and their “can do” attitude. The delays and constant monitoring of preserving resources causes a media frenzy and public outcry that not enough was being done to resolve the issues that the NPS face with the national parks. The NPS has to learn how to protect and clean the natural resources of the parks. The Valdez spill is a unique textbook process of what to do and how much control should be shared by all organizations involved.

The mistakes made by the NPS education provides that more thought into ethical issues that can be possible issues should be taken into account no matter what the organization is about or protects. There are always going to be outside problems that arise and can handle better communication, systems and a hierarchy that is knowledgeable in all policies and protocols. Much of what the NPS worked with was from within, which did not allow other organizations included in potential hazards.

Kurtz, R. S. (2003). Organizational culture, decision-making, and integrity: The National Park Service and the Exxon Valdez. Public Integrity, 5(4), 305–317