Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Air Force To Trim Airmen Rules, Improve Acquisition Process

Law360 (April 2, 2018, 8:25 PM EDT) -- The Air Force has moved to trim unnecessary policies and instructions for airmen and improve its acquisition processes as part of a broad ongoing policy overhaul, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Friday.

The Air Force has already rescinded more than 100 formal instructions given to airmen for how to carry out their jobs since launching a related two-year review in August last year, focusing on outdated procedures, Wilson claimed in a speech at an Air Force Association breakfast.

As an example of those unnecessary instructions, she cited an instruction for how obstacle courses on bases should be laid out.

"My guess is, if they need to build an obstacle course, they can probably figure it out,” Wilson said.

More broadly, the biggest challenge the Air Force faces in relation to reviewing its instructions stems from those related to personnel and operational issues, the secretary claimed.

“We need to get those right and get them understandable,” she said, suggesting that even the instructions that remain after the review will be rewritten to avoid legal jargon and to make them easier to understand and follow.

The other main priority of the review, alongside freeing up the work time of airmen, is to push the authority to waive the use of those instructions — when experience suggests that is the best course of action — down to the “lowest appropriate level,” Wilson said.

By pushing more responsibility further down the chain, the Air Force is better able to fulfill its mission in future war scenarios, when communications from senior leaders may be cut off, knowing lower-level airmen can “take mission orders and execute the mission using their best judgment,” according to the secretary.

“If we expect to operate that way in wartime, we have to treat them that way in peacetime,” Wilson said.

There are around 1,400 instructions currently under review by the Air Force, according to Wilson. She had said when introducing the review in August that instructions that either clash with each other or that are not relevant to the current state of the Air Force “[breed] cynicism” among airmen when they “feel they cannot possibly follow every written rule.”

The Air Force had said in August that 40 percent of its instructions were outdated, claiming it would start the review effort with those instructions, as well as those that airmen have said should be a top priority for review.

After that, there will be a second phase of review, looking at all other instructions issued by Air Force HQ, which collectively have created 130,000 “compliance items” to be followed. The aim is to leave behind only those instructions that “add value, set policy and describe best practices,” Wilson said in August.

In her speech Friday, Wilson also pointed to a similar effort to push significant acquisition authority down to a lower level, in line with new statutory authorities granted by lawmakers in recent years, meaning program managers can spend less time managing up the command chain and more time actually managing their programs. She noted for example that she now holds no acquisition authority herself, trusting her subordinates to do the right thing.

The Air Force secretary also discussed several specific acquisition priorities for the Air Force, including a continued focus on space programs, which will also involve an overhaul intended to speed up the acquisition process at the service’s Space and Missile Systems Center, specific details of which will be made public some time in the next few months, she said.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.law360.com

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