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USFFC Improved Inspection Processes Enables Greater Frequency, Depth of Official Command Inspections
by Garrett Zopfi
19 August 2021
NORFOLK, Va. --
Due to new best practices and protocols developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Fleet Forces Command Inspector General office plans to increase the number of command inspections conducted per year, starting in fiscal year 2022, in order to ensure mission and personnel readiness across the fleet.
The COVID-19 pandemic made previous IG business practices impractical with increased restrictions on travel, mandated quarantines, and social distancing. Therefore, USFFC IG adapted by using new remote work tools (previously Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) Teams and now Flank Speed) to conduct focus groups and interviews with command program managers.
“Flank Speed removed a lot of constraints in terms of inspections,” said Beth Zukovsky, Director of Fleet Inspections. “In addition to reducing the cost to conduct an inspection by more than 90%, it fostered greater collaboration between our inspectors and headquarters subject matter experts, which informed our new way of inspecting.”
The new protocol leverages the military and civil service experience of the inspections team to streamline the inspection process and reduce the burden on Sailors and civilians.
“Our inspectors now have a portfolio of programs they inspect, and they developed checklists with the subject matter experts to guide the inspections and identify and probe program areas that may correlate to overall program success,” continued Zukovsky. “The inspectors maintain their portfolio through all of the inspections, so while they are conducting inspections with SME support, they are increasing their own subject matter expertise, leading to a greater depth of inspections.”
Inspections are also including process analysis as a regular part of command program inspections, adding more value to commanders and program managers. It also encourages program managers to critically self-assess their own programs and apply their organizational knowledge to develop solutions that may benefit the wider fleet.
“Incorporating process improvement recommendations provides an external look to identify areas where increased efficiency can be achieved and increases the visibility of potential process improvements identified by program managers,” said Fleet Inspector Carla Newman, a Certified Change Management Professional, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and veteran with more than a decade of experience in Navy aviation maintenance. “This also incorporates lessons learned and best practices observed throughout the fleet.”
Timing inspections with changes of command and increasing the frequency of inspections provide incoming commanders an in-depth overview of their new command.
“Enabling commanders with information to focus on areas that need improvement, prioritize programs and align strategic efforts to support the fleet and accomplish the mission is the crux of fleet inspections,” said Zukovsky. “It’s a lot more work for the team to deep dive in a comprehensive review compared to a compliance check, but it’s a greater value for an incoming or current commander.
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