WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force bases and customer-service oriented services will now be held to a uniform set of standards, thanks to the recently launched Air Force Common Output Level Standards program.
It’s a program that will standardize the delivery of installation support services so that Airmen and other customers will have common experiences and expectations from base to base, said Maj. Jennifer Phelps, Air Force COLS program manager here at the Pentagon.
“The goal here is consistency,” she said. “We want a standard, uniform level of support provided to Airmen at every location.”
The program launched Jan. 12 with fiscal 2013 installation support service standards set for 40 functions, which range from the chaplain corps to public affairs to finance and family services.
This baseline year will take a look at their missions, resources, budgets, and products to determine how well they are meeting Headquarters Air Force-established service standards.
Although data will be initially collected from only 66 bases, the intent is for all Air Force locations to meet these standards for any installation support services provided.
During subcommittee testimony on Capitol Hill in April 2012, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Logistics Terry Yonkers testified that the AF COLS program is all about using smarter management practices and instituting better standards.
“We must ensure that we have right-sized and efficient infrastructure that enables our most valuable resource, our Airmen, to perform their duties, while ensuring responsible stewardship of fiscal resources,” Yonkers said.
Identifying those fiscal resources and budget constraints will be a big part of AF COLS, Phelps said.
“Right now, there is no easy way to calculate the risk that comes with budget cuts for many of our installation support services,” she said. Every fiscal year, senior leadership goes to Congress to discuss budget specifics. The goal is that in the future, senior leadership will be armed with AF COLS metrics and better able to communicate requirements and impacts of budget cuts. They’ll be able to show exactly what that means to Airmen and families.
“They’ll be able to look at the data and see exactly what programs will be impacted most in a situation like that,” she said. “On the flip side, they’ll also be able to identify areas or functions that need more resources, and will be able to better advocate for that.”
She also pointed out that AF COLS will help define exactly what is expected from particular functions.
Phelps emphasized that while AF COLS representatives will be responsible for providing data about their bases and units, the impact will be a great benefit to everyone.
“Currently, there is no one approved level of services,” she said. “What Airmen and their families experience at Base X may not be what they experience at Base Y. With this first phase, we’re setting the standard.”