Most activity in a starship is directed through a hierarchy of command that leads inevitably to the captain. On the bridge, Tac and Helm accept orders directly from the captain, or through his surrogate, the officer of the deck (OOD). The department heads also report direct to the captain, and supervise the tasks which fall under their spheres.
Operations department routinely receives direction not from above, but from below, and from all departments. Operations supervises assetts used by all departments, including computer, transport, communications, and power resources. The objective is to supply these needs directly, and not disturb the captain or other senior officers with the details of implementation unless absolutely necessary.
Flexibility is key in meeting this goal. Certain interactions are to be expected with the various departments. A good Ops officer will adapt to the style of other department heads, and develop a clean exchange of information. To some degree this flexibility is achieved through selective enforcement of regulation. The operations department seldom controls an operation. It support activities directed by the Captain, XO, a department head, or one of their surrogates. If one of the individuals in charge operates outside of strict procedures, this should be noted in the Ops log, but it is not Operation's duty to correct the procedures of other departments except in life threatening situations.
That being said, the following is a partial list of interactions between Ops and other departments, as it should be done. This unit is an android, and is often distressed at organic preferences for 'initiative', 'innovation', and 'chaos'. Defiant operations personnel are instructed to minimize the above and deal from proper procedures. However, this unit is aware that Commodore Jats seems to regard flexibility and spontaneity as virtues.
On more formal ships, operations responsibilities on away team duty include...
These are the normal duties of Ops assuming adequate notification and time. Small crew size and fast pace of operations sometimes prevents full briefings, back up away teams, or reviews of communications security. Ops shall attempt to provide service as much as possible to the spirit of the regs, without attempting to enforce them.
Ops department support of flight operations is very similar to away team. Again, Operations is supporting and monitoring a group leaving the ship. Many of the same services provided to the AT are also provided flight. These services include...
Transporter personnel are routinely assigned to maintain transport lock on away teams and fighter pilots. However, transporter chiefs are not always on duty, and emergency security or medical transports may be initiated at any time by the Ops chief, Tac, or others on the bridge.
Transporter personnel must be aware of the security chief's guidelines for use of the transporter, and the policy on disarming weapons during transport. During Red Alert and Intruder Alert, many security chiefs restrict transport authority, or reserve it to security, medical, or command staff use.
The computers are programmed to detect empty beds in sickbay, and empty cells in the brig, but protocol recommends Transport Chief, Ops, Medical and Security coordinate on when and where emergency transports are allowed, who must authorize it, and who is to be notified after the fact.
The current guidelines for medical transport use follow. Any Defiant personnel may request emergency medical transport. It is not the transporter chief's duty to validate the need, though he should confirm that the comm badge being used still indicates it is being worn by the individual assigned the badge. (Starfleet comm badges contain bio field identification sensors, and should disable themselves when not worn by their assigned individual. Notify security immediately if a badge indicates unauthorized user or an attempt to bypass communications security.) On any transport direct to sickbay, weapons are disabled by the transporter.
Use of transporter to relocate intruders to the brig has it's own protocols, maintained by the security department.
Operations should if possible keep space in at least one evacuation transport equipped cargo bay open for emergency use.
While nominally the Operations Manager is responsible for programming, launching and tracking probes, these functions are frequently passed to the Science Department or Tactical Officer. This duty is shifted at the discretion of the command staff, depending on the purpose of the probe, and how busy the various bridge personnel are.
One consideration in probe launch often neglected by other departments is selecting a probe with minimum capability necessary to do the job. Operations personnel should suggest use of one of the more numerous, less complex, small probes, so long as it is sufficient for the mission.
Tac and Helm are between them the two largest users of energy on the ship. Both have extensive sensor, power, and computer resources allocated to them. While these in theory could be allocated elsewhere, in practice and by regulation they are seldom interfered with. Both Tac and Helm report directly to the Officer of the Deck. If these two are calling for resources, they are doing so under direct supervision of the command staff. Fortunately, the Ops Manager is also on the bridge, and generally is aware of the OOD's orders and the rationale for them. While there are sometimes problems with conflicting projects requiring the same resources, Tac, Helm, Ops and the OOD are at least aware of each other's problems, and the chain of command is clear.
The Engineering Department is unique in that it provides services to Operations, rather than requesting services. There are sometimes difficulties in establishing the borders between Ops Department and Engineering Department's responsibilities. The usual compromise - as stated by Engineering - is that Ops abuses the equipment, while Engineering fixes it. Engineering produces power, which Ops distributes. Ops manages systems such as the transporter, life support, structural integrity fields, inertial compensators, computer, and data networks. Engineering is generally called when a physical problem develops, when something is broken rather than simply misconfigured.
The Science Department is a large user of computer and sensor resources. In general, sufficient resources are available, but the science group often resents what they perceive as a low priority given to allocation. If the OOD wants to be sure there is no cloaked ship in the vicinity, a day or month long science experiment requiring sensors or computer time might be flushed by careless over allocation. Operations should be aware of the Science Department's more exotic experiments, and attempt to guard any allocations deemed important by the Science Officer.
Security is relatively isolated from Ops. Their equipment is primarily mobile, and fully under their own control. Exceptions are in the areas of computer security, communications security, transporter use during alerts, and compartmentalization during alerts. Each Security Chief will have his own ideas on how various ship's systems should behave during a crisis. Some want control of critical systems assigned to them. Others wish assistance in programming. Yet others wish experienced Ops personnel handling equipment such as the transporters, but only under Security's guidelines and orders.
The Medical Department, with the exception of coordinating emergency medical transport, interacts least with the Ops department. They are light to moderate power users, maintain their own equipment, and seldom require exotic resources. They do have occasional unusual computation and replication needs. While their requests are few and wide spread, when the requests do come they are in earnest. Rapid response at high priority should be a goal. Operations is also often aware of medical emergencies before Sickbay. Calling in medical help is among Ops' duties.
Finally, we return to the Command Staff. Again, Operations deals with communications, coordination, allocation, and conservation. It does not deal with command. We avoid vexing the captain and XO with implementation details. However, they must have sufficient knowledge of operations in progress to make command decisions. This is a judgement call, and different commanders have different preferences.
Ops Manual, Table of Contents
Ops Department Office