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AFSO21 there to help you

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Most people have heard of AFSO21, but some may not know what it is or how it can help them while at Osan. So what is it?

"(Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century) is an exciting program because you get to make an impact on your organization," said 1st Lt. Marsha Smith, the 51st Fighter Wing AFSO21 process manager. "The goal of the program is to streamline processes at Osan and around the Air Force so we can do better with less. We want to learn if there is a better way to do something that can save money, time or manpower resources."

At first glance, the program might look similar to the IDEA program, but it has some major differences. One of the largest differences is that a solution does not have to be submitted with the problem. AFSO21 will help determine the best solution for the problem.

"If someone noticed that one intersection on base was having a lot of accidents, and they thought a stop sign would stop that from happening, they could submit that to the IDEA program," said Lieutenant Smith. "If the solution was approved, a stop sign would be put in and the problem would be considered resolved."

"With AFSO21, if a member noticed that same intersection was having a lot of accidents, they could contact me," she continued. "I would address this as a process problem, then I would create a working group of subject matter experts and affected personnel to look at that street and figure out what is causing the problem and the best solution for it. One solution might be to put up a stop sign or it could be getting the streets repaved so they meet at the intersection at a different angle."

Because AFSO21 looks at all aspects of a situation and applies various problem solving techniques, it isn't an overnight fix she said.

Once a working group is formed, it takes the group one week to look at the issue and come up with viable solutions. Depending on the complexity of the issue, though, it could take weeks or months for full implementation of the solution.

During the week of the rapid improvement event, the team is looking for areas of waste or areas that do not add value to the mission. These are the areas that may be eliminated from the process.

One way that the team determines the best solution is by looking at the current process, and then identifying an ideal or perfect process. The team will then look to see what aspects in the current state can be removed or changed to get the program close to that ideal state. This becomes the future state with attainable goals for success.

One of Osan's greatest AFSO21 success stories thus far was actually completed before AFSO21 was formally in place. 

The 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron's new vehicle maintenance building was completed in 2005. It combined five different buildings into one, making it easier for workers to fix vehicles. Before construction of this structure, mechanics had to spend time traveling to different buildings for parts or to perform specific tasks. Now that these same functions can be accomplished in one building, mechanics get that valuable time returned to them. Mechanics can also now roll the vehicle to the next step in the repair process more quickly since the work stations are closer together.

The building also makes it more convenient for customers.

"Vehicle operators no longer have to turn their vehicles in for maintenance at one location and pick them up at another," said Senior Master Sgt. Dan Delaney, vehicle maintenance superintendent. "It's all done in the same location now."

This benefits the members of Team Osan by ensuring that their vehicle is repaired and returned to them in a more timely manner.

To submit an idea for AFSO21, send the idea up your chain of command or call Lieutenant Smith at 784-9007.