SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
In response to the 50th Inspector General office’s push for squadrons to “identify the red,” the 50th Network Operations Group has implemented a rewards program for those who not only identify their deficiencies, but also put a plan in place to remedy them.
“We have a monetary reward. For identifying, it’s $2,000. For maintaining and getting things fixed, it’s $1,000. One unit can win it all or we split it between units,” said Sheila Thomas, 50 NOG exercises and readiness chief. “Every quarter we’re going to go through a grading process to see what units are actively participating and making sure their (Management Internal Control Toolset) and (Inspector General Evaluation Management System) is up to date.”
Thomas said the program is the brainchild of Col. Scott Angerman, 50 NOG commander, who wanted to encourage units to take the next step once they identify a deficiency.
“His thing was, not only do I want you to identify that you are red, but I also want you to come up with credible fixes that are going to fix the problem long-term,” Thomas said.
The hope is the monetary reward will encourage units to move past the practice of putting off fixes. Thomas said, in the past, units have treated deficiencies similarly to the driver who sees the “Check engine” light come on, yet continues to drive without addressing the issue.
“By us doing (grading) every month, not only is the light on, but someone is saying, ‘You need to fix this. You need to do this,’” Thomas said. “There is always someone giving them a reminder that it’s important.
“We’ve, in the past, had write-ups open forever and never seemed to get movement or attention,” she continued. “We know the units are busy doing the mission, and so sometimes, with lack of people and funds, there’s only so much you can do. (They) rack and stack those programs according to what’s going to get the mission done or degrade the mission.”
In addition to potentially finding and fixing deficiencies, units can glean more benefits from self-identification.
“Self-identification benefits mission execution and the safety of the unit,” said Staff Sgt. Theodore Barnaby, 50 SW IG. “Identifying the deficiencies and the risk that comes along with them are critical to mission success. If the non-compliance is undetected, there are unknown weaknesses in mission execution that can cause mission failure or serious harm. This is the real benefit of self-identification.”
Barnaby said one of the reasons the IG is pushing units to self-identify is so the “do more with less” mantra does not stretch Airmen and units to the point of mission failure.
“We all work in an Air Force that is constrained in one way or another by the resources we are provided,” he said. “Airmen accept that manning numbers are low. Leadership recognizes that funding is scarce. Airmen at all levels have stretched the phrase ‘do more with less’ to the breaking point. At some point, certain tenants of Air Force Instructions cannot be met due to these constraints.
“Failure to meet these tenants comes with risks to the mission,” he added. “Self-identifying these deficiencies raises the assumption of risk to commanders at the appropriate level to accept that risk.”
Even though the program has only been in place since August, Thomas said NOG leadership is already seeing units put more emphasis on creating solutions.
“We’ve seen it now to where they can see how important it is that not only do you do the identifying process, but that you keep it up,” she said.
Additionally, one of the long-term effects of this program will be elimination of the “inspection ramp-up,” typically occurring in the weeks leading up to the Unit Effectiveness Inspection.
“It is a better system how we do it now because, in the past, all of that ramp up to get ready for an inspection was horrible,” Thomas said. “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Every day, or every month, we’re looking at our programs. You keep it going and it becomes a way of life.”