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Making at difference at GAFB: an AFSO21 story



GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- We've all heard the news...the Air Force is facing significant cutbacks and shortages in manning for the foreseeable future. "Do more with less" has become a common catch phrase. One avenue to get to the point is by using the concept of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, better known as AFSO21.

A process was recently identified at Goodfellow as one that could stand to use a little reworking. The AFSO21 Rapid Improvement Event was used to re-evaluate the process Airmen students must go through concerning scheduling their unaccompanied baggage shipments after they receive their orders.

Mary Jones, who works at the Goodfellow Travel Management Office, is credited with coming up with the suggestion to streamline the process. She suggested it to the 17th Contracting Squadron commander, Maj. Louis Orndorff, after a commanders' call briefing in November 2006, where the commander briefed squadron personnel on submittal procedures for AFSO21. 

Ms. Jones said the turnaround timeframe was only a few months until the project actually began. 

She admitted at first she was thinking only of the improvements that could be made to her section, but she soon discovered the impact would affect other agencies as well. Ms. Jones served as the team leader for the event. 

A team comprising representatives from the Travel Management Office, the Military Personnel Flight, the 17th Communication Squadron and a military training leader met with an AFSO21 expert from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, last week to streamline the process for students. 

The current process involved students not always knowing when their orders were released. According to Master Sgt. Jose Greene, an MTL, the students were sometimes unaware they had even received orders, making it difficult to begin the process of scheduling a time for their unaccompanied baggage to be picked up. 

Due to the delay in scheduling pick up times, students were often hurrying in at the last moments before their move to schedule appointments. 

It was the task of the RIE Team to discover where the problem areas were and try to come up with a better solution.

One of the first things the team discovered was a lot of assuming was occurring. Team members said they took for granted certain processes were occurring without ever ensuring that was the case. Now, with the notification to MTLs when students receive their orders, as much as 3-4 weeks of time have been built into the process.

Another issue was the number of briefings students were required to attend. The team came together and decided those several briefings could be consolidated down to just one.

"When the team came together it was apparent from the first day that the impact was going to be far greater than just my work area," said Ms. Jones. "By bringing in key personnel from all aspects of the process from beginning to end, each person was able to identify specific problems in their own areas and look for ways to improve or completely fix it right away."

And fix it right away they did. Within three days the major hurdles in the process were identified and corrected. A lot of brainstorming and several packs of yellow stickies later, and the goals of the working group were met.

By identifying the problems and correcting them on the spot, the group was able to streamline the outbound process and minimize the number of trips students must make to TMO. Briefings will be consolidated to reduce the number of appointments students must attend and MTLs will be the point of contact for picking up student orders.

By notifying the MTLs of assignments, it will ensure the students get notified as soon as possible, giving more time to schedule the unaccompanied baggage shipments.

The new process will save the TMO office an estimated 100 man hours in preparation time alone, according to Ms. Jones, and the time saved for students by cutting out the multiple briefings and visits is estimated at more than 2000 hours saved. The team will come together again in 60 days to see how much progress has actually been made.
Once the working group mapped out their new plan, they then had to present it to Col. Merrily Madero, 17th Training Wing vice commander.

Col. Madero said she was extremely impressed by how quickly the group came up with a solution to their issue. "This is the first venture with AFSO21 at Goodfellow," she said. "And from what I have seen this is a very impressive first event!"

AFSO21 is about generating efficiencies to improve combat capability. It's a process improvement effort and cultural change to enable the remaining 315,000 Airmen to work more efficiently and effectively; focusing on what is most important while eliminating all types of waste, be they time, money or effort.