The Air Force has a new inspection system and the 412th Test Wing Inspector General’s office has already started to implement it. The Global Power Bomber Combined Test Force was the first to be evaluated Aug. 4-8.
Under the old inspection system, major commands would use a group of nearly 250 inspectors every two years, to “completely tear apart the wing” looking for compliance.
“Compliance is any Air Force requirement that says, ‘commanders will ensure, or shall ensure or must ensure,'” said Lt. Col. Gregg Beeber, 412th TW installation inspector general. “There are about 65,000 things that commanders must do.”
According to Beeber, this created an “inspection culture” that would bring the entire mission to a standstill two to three months prior to the inspection. The time was used to find checklist items where the unit was not compliant and find a quick solution, regardless of the items’ significance to the mission.
“Commanders didn’t really have a say in what was expected to get done because everything was required to get done,” said Beeber. “Even though something may not be that important to them in getting their mission done, if the inspectors came in and found something non-compliant, they would get written up and that would hurt their overall grade for the unit.”
As an example, he said, “In order to impress the inspection teams many years ago, commanders would paint their grass green to show compliance with facility requirements. Since the soil had not been fertilized or watered,†the quick solution became necessary. The requirement was met, but at the expense of wasted time and resources. Commanders, literally, stopped or slowed their mission in order to impress inspectors rather than trying to build sustainable programs.”
The new system has moved away from verifying compliance and instead evaluates the unit’s effectiveness. This is accomplished by looking at four Major-Graded Areas: Managing Resources, Leading People, Improving the Unit and Executing the Mission.
“This new system puts the onus on the wing commander to look at his or her own Airmen and their units and make assessments for his or her self on their overall effectiveness and allocate resources based on those assessments,” said Beeber.
Once a unit has been selected for inspection, a Wing Inspection Team is assembled using subject matter experts from around the base. For example, the IG may go to the 412th Test Engineering Group and choose an expert in the test planning and reporting process to evaluate how effective the unit being inspected is in test planning, doing deficiency management and writing its test reports. Or, an individual from the 412th Communications Squadron may be selected to evaluate Records Management.
“The wing has fantastic people in the communications squadron who are responsible for ensuring that the base has an effective Records Management Program. They are our subject matter experts that we will use to ensure that our units are effective in their Records Management during inspections,” said Beeber.
In the Global Power CTF inspection, the Wing Inspection Team consisted of 34 experts from around base. Once the inspection has been completed, the Inspector General staff collected the data. Unlike the previous system, the unit is not expected to be fully compliant when the inspectors arrive. Instead, they are expected to have identified the issues already existing in their units and provide a corrective action plan.
This is done using a web tool, the Management Inspection Communication Tool, or MICT (pronounced mik-t), which communicates between headquarters and the assessor – the person on the floor performing the job daily.
The software should be used to recognize areas of non-compliance, identify the cause and create a corrective action plan. As soon as a unit is found to be non-compliant, they are expected to reflect it using MICT within five duty days. The software is intended to be “interwoven in Airmen’s daily lives.”
For instance, a commander may report that they failed to write a required plan. He would then report that he did not have the available manpower to write the plan and execute the mission, but the plan will be written in three months when the unit’s operations tempo slows down.
“Then the commander has prioritized, ‘We’ll focus on the mission now when the ops tempo is high, but come back to fixing this problem later when things slow down.’ That is a good thing. That’s what a commander does, he/she knows their problems and prioritizes what they want to fix based on their resources. That’s an effective unit.”
The Inspector General also uses the MICT software in their inspections.
“MICT is my tool to say, ‘this is where the unit thinks they have their own problems, let me go in and verify and make sure they are finding all the problems and not missing any,'” said Beeber. “We can also go in and help with root cause analysis and corrective action plans.”
In addition to regular unit inspections, the IG office will perform base-wide effectiveness inspections. They recently completed an inspection where they visited seven units to see how effective the base is at Information Protection.
Beeber noted that the new system will allow headquarters to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of Air Force requirements and make improvements where necessary. The system will also provide data to aid the general in distributing resources well.