The United States military has recently ramped up process improvement initiatives in the Air Force, Army and Navy. Mark Graban over at the Lean Blog recently wrote a post about the Lean efforts of the Air Force. I thought I’d share even more information about the program here.

The primary goal of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century (AFSO 21) is to eliminate waste. Time, manpower and money are all targeted. Some sources say that 80 percent of the AFSO 21 efforts are Lean but numerous other tools and methods make up the AFSO 21 Playbook – Value Stream Mapping, Constraint Analysis, Root Cause Analysis, Six Sigma/Statistical Analysis and Quality Function Deployment just to name just a few.

AFSO 21 is the name given to improvement initiatives mandated by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Mosely and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne. In November 2005 Michael Wynn wrote a letter to the Airmen detailing the mission and goals of the Air Force which included:

“Foster Lean Processes across the Total Air Force. Lean is about highest quality, and husbanding resources; from completing BRAC actions, to flight line operations, and inventory. We all can contribute.”

To demonstrate the size and commitment of the Air Force to the Smart Ops 21 initiative they have recently awarded hefty contracts to consulting firms to provide support and training:

Bearing Point, Alexandria, Va., was awarded on 16 April 2007, a $99,000,000 firm fixed price contract. This action provides for Advisory and Assistance Services for Air Force Smart Operations 21.

Mainstream GS, LLC., Loveland, Colo., is being awarded a $90,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This action provides for the Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Program to provide contractor support in the achievement of AFSO21 initiatives at Ogden Air Logistics Center and throughout the Air Force.

The University of Tennessee was recently awarded a five-year, $25 million contract to University of Tennessee’s College of Business for the primary purpose of training and certifying trainers who will eventually train Air Force personnel in implementing AFSO21 in their respective local operations.

General Dynamics Corp. was awarded a five-year, $28 million contract from the Air Force’s Air Combat Command to provide transformation and continuous process improvement support to the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century effort.


Main AFSO 21 Website

Current news stories about AFSO 21

Smart Ops 21: Improving the Air Force one process at a time

About the Author