The Navy is planning to close most of its Navy College offices in CONUS by 2016. The closings are part of a budget cutting reorganization plan the Navy has submitted to the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2017.
The Navy says it can close most of its 33 Navy College offices in CONUS and still preserve customer service by switching most of the services offered at walk-in offices to its Virtual Education Center (VEC) which is comprised of a website and hotline. Many programs such as Tuition Assistance and the Joint Services Transcript have been available online for years so sources at the Navy Education & Training Command (NETC) feel that pushing the use of self-service through the VEC will not be a major adjustment for the average sailor.
The proposal follows the 2010 closure of 15 Navy College offices at bases worldwide which established the VEC. Since the establishment of the VEC, customer traffic in the walk-in offices has dropped 47%, according to NETC data. Overall, there were 130,000 visits to Navy College offices in fiscal 2014.
Sources say that all but two or three of the service's 33 Navy College offices in CONUS would close. Most likely, the remaining offices would be in the largest fleet areas, such as Norfolk and San Diego. There will be no effect on any of the 10 remaining overseas offices: Atsugi, Misawa, Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan; Guam; Bahrain; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Rota, Spain; and Sigonella and Naples, Italy.
Sources within NETC have said that while education support may be migrating from a walk-in office to a virtual office, overall customer support will not be affected. The average sailor will not have to take time off from duty to walk across base to the education center, they will be able to go online from their workspace and accomplish much of what they could do before, and for those detailed questions, there is a hotline available to receive assistance from an expert. Currently, personal assistance through the VEC is available 15 hours a day, that is expected to increase if the walk-in centers are shuttered.
Officials were quick to point out that popular programs such as tuition assistance and NCPACE are receiving budget increases in the coming years and there are no planned cuts these and other most education programs.