Workforce.

The workforce focus area was charged with the large task of

uncovering issues hindering optimal depot maintenance performance. Over

time, several events impacted the workforce, including reductions in

force and closure of two depots. The average age of the workforce

continued to rise, many experienced employees began retiring. The

younger workforce lacked experience and training. The Review Team

uncovered several concerns during the review phase and developed

initiatives to resolve them. Some of the major initiatives are

highlighted below.

* Maintenance Training Organization and Maintenance Orientation and

Technical Training Plans. The team identified that newly hired employees

weren't maintenance ready technicians when they reported for duty. Many

lacked basic understanding of their role within the Air Force, Air Force

Materiel Command (AFMC). air logistics centers and were unfamiliar

with core maintenance programs such as tool control, technical orders,

safety. Foreign object damage prevention. As a result, they were

unable to contribute to production in the shop until they fulfilled

these basic requirements. It could take several weeks before this

happened. The team developed a two-part initiative to address this

issue. The first part involved standing up a maintenance training

organization within the maintenance directorates at the air logistics

centers to serve as a centralized training entity for all depot

maintenance-unique training. The second part is building maintenance

orientation and technical training plans modeled after the highly

successful military enlisted career-field education and training plans.

A training plan will be developed for each skill and standardized to the

maximum extent possible. Together, these two initiatives will reduce the

time required to produce skilled technicians. A separate initiative

focuses on developing senior military and civilian depot leaders.

* First-Level Supervisory Training. This initiative was driven by

the discovery that new first-level supervisors weren't prepared for

managerial demands in the maintenance environment. In many cases, newly

selected first-level supervisors are turning wrenches one day and are

supervisors the next with little or no preparation in how to deal with

their new duties, making the transition from mechanic to manager very

difficult. The solution was to initiate standardized first-level

training courses that'll be completed before people are selected for

supervisory duties so they can hit the ground running. A standard course

for those currently occupying a supervisory position is also being

developed. Such training will provide new supervisors the tools to

succeed ahead of time, mitigating the frustration of learning as you go

while trying to manage day-to-day production demands.

A separate workforce initiative is examining ways to minimize daily

distractions first-level supervisors face. This, along with proper

training, will enable them to balance the competing demands of managing

the personnel and technical aspects of their position.

* Appraisals and Award System. Due to the magnitude of this

initiative, it was broken into two separate pieces, one that deals with

the appraisal system and another that looks at the awards system. As the

team conducted their site visits, several concerns arose over what was

seen as an inflated appraisal system that also serves as the basis for

the distribution of annual monetary awards. This initiative strives to

establish performance plans and ratings that focus on cost, quality, and

schedule to make the appraisal and award system less subjective. A group

incentive award is being considered that'll be based on team versus

individual performance. Both the appraisal and awards initiatives are

long-term in nature but, when implemented, will allow managers and

supervisors at all levels to objectively evaluate and reward employees.

These objective-rating criteria will enable the appraisal and award

system to drive production. Control cost. Ultimately, improve

support to the warfighter.

* Unresponsive Hiring Process. One major concern for the depots was

the amount of time required to fill vacant positions. In many cases, it

took an average of 80 days to get through the hiring process.

Additionally, implementation of a new personnel system at the air

logistics centers impacted some internal processes. The focus of this

initiative is to streamline hiring processes and increase hiring

flexibility. The ultimate goal is to enable managers to fill vacancies

quickly and minimize their impact on production.

* Multiskills. Multiskilled employees are certified to work in more

than one technical area and can be moved, as workload requires,

increasing productivity and reducing workflow disruptions. The Review

Team discovered that depot maintenance employees aren't incentivized to

become multiskilled and supervisors aren't well versed in how to fully

employ multiskille technicians. The search for a solution revealed a

memorandum of agreement (MOA) between AFMC and the American Federation

of Government Employees that lays out provisions for using multiskilled

employees. This MOA will be resurrected. AFMC will determine policy

to encourage the use of multiskilling in specific work situations where

the need exists.

The criticality of properly developing the workforce and providing

them with the tools needed to effectively fulfill their duties can't be

underestimated. Refocusing on depot maintenance training and workforce

development will produce a workforce to support world-class depot

maintenance operations.

Mr Dunn is Deputy Director, Directorate of Maintenance,

Installations and Logistics, Headquarters Air Force. Mr Barone is

Director, Directorate of Personnel, Headquarters Air Force Materiel

Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Mr Peterson is Chief of Civilian

Personnel, Air Force Materiel Command.