Inspector General team embraces the red

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Megan E. Acs
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The 97th Air Mobility Wing Inspector General team is broken up into two sections which come together to enhance mission effectiveness, morale and productivity through complaint resolution; fraud, waste and abuse prevention; and the Commander’s Inspection Program.

There are nine people total on the 97 AMW IG team. This is broken up into the complaints department and the inspection section. The Airmen working the inspection side of the IG team direct their efforts toward issues pertaining to the Air Force Inspection System which was implemented on Altus Air Force Base in January 2014.

In addition to the nine dedicated Inspector General Inspection Team members, there are 140 Wing Inspection Team members located all around base in other squadrons who assist with inspections and exercises as subject matter experts in their field.

Some responsibilities of the inspection system include oversight and management of the wing commander’s inspection program that includes all vertical, horizontal and wing wide exercises.

“A horizontal inspection is an inspection of a wing level program. This includes your physical training program, records management program, equal opportunity office and any other program that touches everyone in the wing,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Ellis, 97th Air Mobility Wing superintendent of wing inspections. “A vertical inspection is a unit inspection, where we validate and verify a unit’s compliance with the four major graded areas.”

These four major graded areas include executing the mission, improving the unit, leading the people and managing resources.

“These areas assessed through inspections and interviews called Airman to IG Sessions. The IG team then gets together and discusses the results of the interviews and grades the areas on a five tier scale,” said Ellis. “The grades a unit can achieve include outstanding, highly effective, effective, marginally effective and ineffective.”

The horizontal inspections make up an annual requirement and the vertical inspections take place over a two-year period.

“We have a two-year schedule. We are going into this next two-year cycle with a more no-notice approach to the vertical inspections to stress the continual evaluation and try to avoid the inspection preparation of the past,” said Ellis.

Ellis said he has noticed that some have the misconception that the inspection section of the IG team is a ‘black hat’ which seeks out deficiencies to get people fired.

“That’s the IG of old,” he said. “We’re trying to negate that and let people know as the IG, we’re here to help.”

The inspection team also plays an active role in helping the wing effectively use the Management Internal Control Toolset.

“The Management Internal Control Toolset, or MICT is the only mandatory tool for commanders to use to do self-assessments,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jonathan Taylor, 97th Air Mobility Wing self-assessment program manager for the wing.

Everybody has an AFI they need to be following and MICT serves as a communication tool for compliance.

MICT is currently in the process of changing from a long comprehensive checklist detailing all Air Force Specialty Code Air Force Instruction responsibilities to a much smaller list of only big-ticket items necessary to maintain compliance. These condensed lists are created by functional area managers to ensure compliance with the most important or overlooked parts of relevant AFIs.

Instead of self-assessment checklists, which could span hundreds of items, squadrons are now required to only answer yes or no to approximately 50 questions included in the new self-assessment communicators, and to explain any areas of non-compliance.

If enough units report that a specific item is no longer necessary, that feedback could eventually initiate an amendment to the AFI.

“While AFI 90-201 mandates the use of MICT, to have a truly effective Self-Assessment Program commanders have to go beyond that. For example, units can stage mini exercises to test systems and procedures, have the NCO in charge of a section take a look at the programs of another or anything else that will help find blind spots,” said Taylor. “You have to do MICT because it has questions being asked by Major Commands and the Air Force headquarters, but MICT doesn’t have questions about other mandatory compliance items. It’s up to commanders to develop their own self-assessment program that fits the unique needs of their unit.”

Taylor said people should be doing these self-assessments continually to maintain compliance instead of right before inspections.

“The IG team pulls communicators on a regular basis, and goes out to verify that what is written in MICT reflects the actual process taking place,” said Taylor. “We do this several times a month.”

Altus Air Force Base is ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing the new inspection system and typically has no common issues noted during inspections, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Peter McClellan, 97th Air mobility Wing inspection team manager.

“Embrace the red. It’s okay to have things wrong as long as we’re working to fix it. Here, when something is identified as a problem, it is usually taken care of pretty quickly,” said McClellan. “Altus has a very advanced and robust AFIS System. No system is perfect, but we should and do strive to find and fix any problems we can.”