JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Half-a-dozen personnelists here recently completed a rapid improvement event to review Air Force management of the nonappropriated fund, appropriated fund and military unemployment compensation programs, Air Force Personnel Center officials said.
Last year, AFPC requested an official audit of the appropriated fund civilian and military processes to help establish a baseline for improvement opportunities, said Dodie Tunches, Civilian Unemployment Compensation and Appeals Office chief. AFPC has since consolidated with two other field operating agencies, including the Air Force Services Agency, which manages the nonappropriated fund unemployment compensation program.
“It made no sense to have three distinct programs managed by three separate offices under one roof,” Tunches said. “It was evident from the audit results that we already needed to find a way to improve our processes, but with the consolidation to consider and facing increasingly tight budgets throughout the service, it was clear that we needed to find a way to do the common work smarter, faster and more effectively.”
After two fast-and-furious days of process sharing, brainstorming and planning, team members developed a plan expected to culminate in a single unemployment compensation process by early next year.
“There is a lot of work to do to get there,” Tunches said, “but we’re all committed to the effort and we have great top cover in our AFPC leadership.”
The team has its work cut out for it in part because unemployment compensation is a state-run program, and every state has slightly different procedures and expectations. That challenge is complicated by federal mandates and restrictions that prohibit cross-use of appropriated and nonappropriated funds.
“We have some great ideas for developing and using a common information technology program and common business process steps, but first we need to be clear on the legal issues involved,” said Tunches. “The first item on our action plan is the legal review. Once we know our boundaries, we’ll knock out the tangible requirements, like the IT system, manning and other resources.”
Implementing the new common process will improve the unemployment compensation program, but the work won’t end there. In addition to collecting data on how well the process is working, the team will come together again to schedule billing and budget process improvement events.
“We must keep looking for more effective, efficient ways to manage our programs,” Tunches said. “We are stewards of the American taxpayer’s money, and equally importantly, we are accountable for properly caring for Airmen. We must ensure our every action is tied to those driving factors. We can’t allow people to defraud the government, but we also cannot forget that Airmen have legitimate claims and needs, and they cannot wait forever for compensation.”
The unemployment compensation improvement effort is the first of what is expected to be many improvement efforts to identify common processes and implement efficiencies in the new Air Force Personnel Center, said Dr. Todd Fore, AFPC executive director.
“This summer, we entered initial operational capability as we consolidated three independent agencies. Now, as a single agency devoted to caring for Airmen, we are all working together to ensure that we’re ready for full operational capability early next year,” Fore said. “That means we must be lean, effective and efficient, and all AFPC members are working daily to ensure we meet that goal.”
For more information about personnel issues, visit the myPers website at https://mypers.af.mil.