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AFSO21 team members help save base from non-productive money expenditures

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – With a detailed strategic plan displayed behind her, Ms. Karen Lindberg-Houlihan, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron information officer, explains an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century process used to help save Vandenberg money by cutting the waste of inefficient operations during an internal meeting at Building 11777 on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. (Courtesy photo)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – With a detailed strategic plan displayed behind her, Ms. Karen Lindberg-Houlihan, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron information officer, explains an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century process used to help save Vandenberg money by cutting the waste of inefficient operations during an internal meeting at Building 11777 on Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. (Courtesy photo)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Vandenberg Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century team recently teamed up with the 30th Space Communications Squadron here to help improve the timeliness of base computer network access for new employees awaiting security clearance status.

The AFSO21 team started their processes in November by mapping out a plan to reduce the amount of time and money wasted each year due to the inactivity of new employees based on network constraints.

"Complaints were coming in saying that it was taking four to six weeks or longer to get access," said Elaine Huggins, an AFSO21 facilitator. "Horror stories of three to six months had even circulated. But nobody really knew why it was taking so long."

The AFSO21 team was able to identify why it was taking so long for granting new employees network access and improved parts of the process that were outside of the control of the Wing Information Assurance Office. The AFSO21 team members were then able to devise a plan to decrease the four to six weeks of wait time down to a period of one to two weeks. This saved time, on average, will save Vandenberg approximately $436,800 in non-productive money expenditures over the course of a year.

AFSO21 team members used lean principles to identify problems with the network and areas that needed improvement. Lean principles are the strategies the team uses to cut wasteful steps out of a process.

"Any process that is evaluated using Lean tools can be streamlined so that the time that is spent by the employee is value-added," Ms. Huggins said. "Lean tools decrease the need for rework, phone calls to get information and time spent figuring out how to do something. The more a work group can employ these tools to cut waste out of processes, the more satisfaction can be gained; time used to produce a document or product is useful time, not wheel-spinning time."

Vandenberg's AFSO21 team was assembled here to assist units whom request AFSO21 support within their organization to increase the efficiency of the workplace as a whole.

"AFSO21 allows for a high degree of rationality in planning while giving people tools for problem identification and finding the root causes of those problems," Ms. Huggins said. "It offers a way of increasing a unit's capacity to perform useful work by teaching Airmen how to see and dump process waste, and identifies ways to avoid needless costs in process operations."

Vandenberg's AFSO21 team encourages base entities to learn more about the tools and resources the AFSO21 team can provide.

For more information about AFSO21, call Dave Marston at 605-7316 or Elaine Huggins at 605-7457.