DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
The Air Force places a premium on safety, adherence to guidelines and compliance with regulations.
A new Air Mobility Command initiative aims to improve an existing Aerial Port evaluation program by aligning it with the Air Force Inspection System standards and terminology.
The 436th Aerial Port Squadron was selected to pilot the inaugural Air Transportation Standardization and Evaluations Program, which brings significant changes to the way evaluations are conducted and the data collected. The squadron rolled out the new program July 1, 2016.
“We have an important job here,” said Master Sgt. Melinda Santiago, 436th APS ATSEP manager. “We’re responsible for delivering capabilities to the warfighter. Whether it’s rations of food, ammunition or the warfighter himself, we’re responsible for getting everything down range. If we don’t do it right, we can’t support the warfighter. On a more localized level, if we don’t process cargo correctly, your household goods could end up at the wrong location. What we do could affect you directly. It’s extremely important that we get it right, and we get it right the first time.”
To ensure the squadron ‘gets it right,’ evaluators routinely inspect Airmen on core tasks, Santiago said.
Each month, the six-person ATSEP team is responsible for evaluating more than 400 squadron personnel, from eight flights, perform nearly 200 tasks. Each task on the Command Performance Evaluation Listing needs to be evaluated several times, requiring more than 600 total monthly evaluations compared to the previous standard of only about 200 evaluations per month.
“We have been tasked with tripling the number of evaluations we conduct in a month,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Goicoechea, 436th APS ATSEP evaluator and alternate program manager. “At first it sounds like a daunting task, but we’ve found ways of streamlining our evaluations. Using the ‘wingtip’ approach, we can observe multiple Airmen perform multiple tasks simultaneously, and it actually gives us a clearer picture of how tasks are routinely performed compared to how they’re done for evaluations.”
The ‘wingtip’ approach refers to standing back and observing as several Airmen perform tasks, Goicoechea explained. Traditionally, evaluators would introduce themselves to the Airmen they would be evaluating and inform them of their intent to evaluate them performing a specific task. The new approach allows for a more candid evaluation system and provides more accurate data.
In an effort to align with AFIS, evaluations are no longer designated as passing or failing. Instead, evaluators identify minor and significant deficiencies.
Under the old system, commanders only had access to deficiencies that resulted in failed evaluations, however, since the new system records all observed deficiencies, commanders have access to more accurate information, which can be analyzed to determine trends.
Tech. Sgt. Jesse Foor, 436th APS ATSEP evaluator, used the example of a common task like checking out a vehicle to explain the difference between the evaluation systems.
“Under the old system, if I observed an Airman fail to check the oil, but completed every other task, he would pass the inspection,” Foor said. “I could then evaluate ten other Airmen performing the same task. They could all fail to check the oil, but pass every inspection. All command was seeing was passing scores. Under the new system, we’ll be able to see that nobody checked the oil and get that information to the commanders.”
ATSEP members said the ability to improve data collection and analyze trends is one of the most promising things about the new evaluation program.
“AMC is getting it right,” Santiago said. “We’re always looking to improve our processes and do things more safely. I think this program will allow us to see more clearly where we need to improve, and it’ll give our commanders the information they need to come up with plans to facilitate the improvement.”
The program is slated to be adopted by all AMC aerial port squadrons by September.
“We are thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to collaborate with Air Mobility Command on this important endeavor,” said Maj. David Linton, 436th APS commander. “Our goal is to deliver the best product possible to our customer and ensure continued safety and compliance within the Aerial Port community today and for years to come.”