Limited, no notice inspections ahead for Robins AFMC units

  • Published
  • By Capt. Sequoiya Lawson
  • 78 Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Air Force Materiel Command units at Robins could be inspected with limited or no notice beginning January 2009.

Limited notice will vary from three to 14 days, and no notice is considered zero to two days advance notification. This will apply to unit compliance, operational readiness and logistics standardization and evaluation team inspections.

"After two recent nuclear mishaps, the Air Force has reexamined how it maintains compliance, not just in the nuclear world but in general. AFMC has reshaped how it conducts inspections as a result," said Col. Kenneth Sharpless, Robins inspector general. "This shift in inspection policy will provide a truer picture of a unit's readiness and compliance, which are inseparable."

Colonel Sharpless said the no notice strategy is just one part of the command-wide policy designed to remedy six shortcomings identified within its inspection programs.

It was found that planned inspections don't give commanders a method to validate day-to-day compliance. The current process allows for several months of ramp-up time, which caused a need for relearning processes and proved to be very costly.

"In addition to promoting day-to-day compliance, the no notice directive should reduce unit preparation costs," said Randall Evans, 78th Air Base Wing change manager. "Previous UCI, ORI and LSET preparations at Robins cost more than $9 million and more than 189,000 work hours. This equates to the work of 95 full-time employees for one year."

Colonel Sharpless said theoretically the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center could be inspected with limited or no notice as early as January 2009, but he anticipates smaller targeted inspections to be the most likely assessment conducted here next year under the new policy. Units can still expect complete IG planned inspections. The WR-ALC planned inspection vulnerability for 2009 projects potential for a UCI and/or LSET in the early fall timeframe.

The second area of concern is the need to assess performance of key processes. Performance based inspections will be developed as the remedy.

"Basically we would be assessing compliance in action versus artifact search," said Colonel Sharpless.

For example, instead of reviewing stove-piped supply document control records, the IG would observe actual routine off-base shipments and receipts. This would allow the assessment of whether operations are conducted according to governing laws, policies and mandates, which could involve observing transportation, security forces and supply functions.

Conducting targeted inspections is the third remedy, and is designed to give commanders a means to validate specific readiness and compliance concerns in part by using detailed trend analysis.

"The idea is to minimize big teams of the past," Colonel Sharpless said. "The IG will be using this method to target specific items to leave a smaller foot print and take a smarter look at unit operations."

Combining inspections has been identified as the solution for duplication of effort, which was identified as the fourth shortcoming addressed with current processes.

Colonel Sharpless said lessons learned after Hill Air Force Base's combined UCI/LSET inspection in August helped shaped this policy.

The combined inspection eliminates redundancy of headquarter visits and allows for integrated planning since AFMC IG performs overall scheduler, planner and gatekeeper functions.

In order to effectively meet the demands of these new inspection initiatives, unit self inspection programs will be standardized throughout AFMC. This is the fifth area identified, and will give commanders a robust self-assessment infrastructure.

"There may be differences in terms of mission, but the programs should be executed in the same way," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Holt, self inspection program manager for the Robins IG office. "Charity begins at home. If the 402nd Maintenance Wing has a fix that will help the 78th ABW, there's no need to reinvent the wheel which would cost money that we don't have to spend."

Chief Holt said the standard structure will benefit the entire command because similar functions at different centers will also be better able to share information.

"Once problem areas are identified, we can see if the fix has already been discovered at another location," Chief Holt said. "The cross flow of information will be a win win for the Air Force, taxpayers and warfighters."

Last, the need to specifically validate key processes in handling nuclear weapon related material will be remedied by conducting targeted NWRM compliance inspections.

These types of inspections would most likely be focused on processes within the 542nd Combat Sustainment Wing and may include other organizations within the Center.

The Rev-Up will be publishing a series of articles focused on compliance throughout the Center as it prepares for the AFMC inspection policy shift.