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ASC leaders tackle requirements, acquisition processes

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Starting new programs correctly, ensuring customers have realistic expectations, and ending the "shoot-the-messenger" mentality were among the initiatives Aeronautical Systems Center leaders considered at a November offsite meeting.

Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, ASC commander, along with senior leaders and staff members discussed acquisition challenges at the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century offsite.

Lt. Col. Ron Jobo, ASC's AFSO 21 office deputy director, said he was pleased with the results from the off-site.

"Just the fact that the senior leaders would clear up three days from their busy schedules points out the center's commitment to process improvement; in fact, this is ASC's second AFSO 21 offsite in four months," Colonel Jobo said.

"What's really significant about these initiatives is that we've focused on our core mission objectives that were identified through the (ASC) Balanced Scorecard," said Chuck Jackson, 326th Aeronautical Systems Wing director. "The requirements that we accept, along with our strategic planning, are obviously interconnected, and they basically drive everything we do in acquisition. We'll also benefit from the synergy between these objectives, so the potential benefits are huge."

Beginning with a lengthy list of challenges generated from the major objectives of ASC's Balanced Scorecard, participants identified challenges in three major areas: transforming requirements into high-confidence programs, influencing future requirements and institutionalizing realistic planning.

They came up with problem statements, goals and objectives, process owners and initial action plans for each of 14 initiatives in such areas as:

> Better defining ASC's role

> Ensuring proper training for planners

> Working with stakeholders to create realistic requirements

> Integrating a "system of systems" mentality

> Adding flexibility to the requirements structure

> Creating a process to report program challenges when they're small

> Properly staffing and managing program starts

> Establishing event-driven milestones

> Involving stakeholders in strategic planning

> Better planning for funding fluctuations

ASC's executive steering group will prioritize the 14 initiatives on the basis of the impact and cost of implementing each one and decide which processes are the best candidates for improving.

The November meeting focused on cause and effect analysis.

"It's a formalized way of identifying a problem, then looking into its causes," Colonel Jobo said. "It encourages people to not just start throwing out solutions, but look deeply into the root causes.

"At this off-site, the participants did a great job of locating root causes and creating action plans to improve those processes," said Colonel Jobo. "Obviously, we can't just go charging out and take care of 14 deep-rooted problems all at once, so the executive steering group will work to prioritize the initiatives to see which ones we tackle first, as well as chart out the way ahead to address all the initiatives."