Robins team wins DoD financial management award

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Financial management has put its money where its mouth is - in a "sweet spot," and now, it's paying dividends.

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Financial Management Directorate's Lead DoD in Cost Management Team has been named the recipient of the 2011 Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller Financial Management Award in the Improvements to Budget Formulation and Execution category.
The success demonstrates one of the center's key focuses of leading the Defense Department in cost management as part of its vision to become a world-class center of acquisition and sustainment excellence.

Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, center commander, set the goal to reduce cost by 10 percent annually. In order to meet that goal, every organization came together to first gain a better understanding of its cost as it made improvements and decisions.

"The significance is that it created awareness where we did not have it before. We have the ability now to know what it costs for each output," said Kalwant Smagh, center Financial Management director. "Bottom line, what we're trying to do in leading DoD in cost management, is to change the culture to one of awareness of cost in our decision making.

"The actions we have as government personnel have expenses associated with them," he added. "Putting a face on that expense is really what we're trying to do at a unit level."

A three-year plan was developed which began in 2011 with first building a model and a process to understand cost. This model began with analyzing total cost management of the Air Force F-15 weapon systems, and addressing Robins' role in how cost decisions are made at a local level.

"Our effort was to inject cost into that decision process and to find out what we call the 'sweet spot' for balanced trade-offs," said Smagh. "Cost has to be equally weighted as a factor, along with aircraft availability and capability."

What validated that this model and process would work was the $73 million in savings achieved over seven years by reducing fuel-tank inspection frequency on the F-15 aircraft, said Smagh.

"This is just one example of the kind of thinking that can be applied across multiple weapon systems platforms," he said.

Scott Boyd, Cost Analysis chief, led the analysis team in devising the tools being applied to initiatives across Robins.

"We built these tools and trained people in trying to assess not only how it impacts availability and capability, but also determining the cost impact," said Boyd.

Using a horizontally-integrated approach, involving a core group of 42 members from across the installation, a rapid improvement event was held last fall to share what was learned from the F-15 test. This resulted in the creation of a six-step process to identify high cost drivers and how program offices communicate using the development of a cost-strategy sheet to help with decision making.

Team members wanted to take the model and process they'd built during the past year by deploying it across the 402nd Maintenance Wing and other base support organizations.

For support organizations, that was done by developing an output cost awareness tool, used to identify actual true costs for such things as labor, material, overhead and contracts to operate the squadron or group. For maintenance, an adaptation of principles normally used for acquisition programs shows costs as an aircraft goes through a maintenance cycle in the 402nd MXW.

Other analytical tools the team developed included a lean return on investment tool, which helps to prioritize steps for greater financial payoff.

As part of this year's goal in replicating the team's model and process, there is currently base-wide training to educate wider audience on the cost tools. This will not only spread greater awareness, but empower individual squadrons to identify the value of the process improvements they are making as cost savings are applied.

In the center's Mission Control Room is a count-down clock, similar to timers used at NASA for shuttle launches. One clock is counting down until July 2014, when the center should lead the DoD in cost management, and continuous process improvement should be a way of life at every level. It is designed to instill a sense of urgency among senior leaders and the workforce.

"This award signifies that we are on the right track - that we are stepping ahead of our peers, by enabling a culture change, and our effort is not done," said Smagh.

Lead DoD in Cost Management Team names and organizations: 
Kevin Smagh, Financial Management director
Daniel "Scott" Boyd, Cost Analysis chief, team leader
Col. Gerald Swift, F-15 System Program Office director
Linda Hammonds, Acquisition Cost division
Jarius Jones, cost analyst
Bonita Dunmeyer, Aerospace Sustainment Directorate financial officer
Greg Huttner, ALC Financial Management deputy director
Cheryl Punch, C-130 System Program Office finance chief
Annette Hankins, C-5 System Program Office finance chief
Dell Norris, F-15 System Program Office finance chief
Kelicia Green, financial analyst
Jaimie Pearson, cost analyst trainee
Jane Stoner, senior cost analyst
Damon Brown, cost analyst
Kevin Boutwell, F-15 finance manager
Dan Carter, C-5 Program Office
Tim Avera, 402nd Maintenance Wing Financial Management Office
Edwin Aguilar,402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group Financial Management Office
Alice "Marie" Durden, 78th Comptroller Squadron
George Tribble, C-130
Wayne Scott, Global Logistics Support Center
Michelle Whitford, Electronic Warfare
Steven Albritton, U-2
Alan Steed, Support Equipment & Vehicles Division
Jerry McCleary, C-130
Cheryl McNeil-Jordan, SOF
Kimberly Dickerson, C2ISR
Teresa Tucker, Global Logistics Support Center
Cassandra Kirkland, Global Logistics Support Center
Rena Christian, C-5
Judy Hatcher, Electronic Warfare
Windie Bennett, SOF
Kevin Leverson, Air Force Cost Center of Expertise, Denver, Colo.
Alexis Alejo, C-17
Andrea Akles, C-130
Valorie Jackson, C-17
Rob Myers, Defense Logistics Agency
Cheryl Brantley, Dave Berry - WR-ALC Plans and Programs, organized 2011 Rapid Improvement Event
John "Al" Fatkin, Electronic Warfare analyst contractor
Tony Jonas, senior consultant, Simpler contractor