Unit Compliance Inspections

  • Published
  • By Lt Col John L. Parker
  • 8th Operations Support Squadron Commander
The Wolf Pack just accomplished a very successful Operational Readiness Inspection in April; however, because this is Kunsan and we get inspected every year, I felt it important to discuss the Unit Compliance Inspection that we will go through in April 2010. Historically, the Wolf Pack has done "OK" on UCIs, scoring an overall "Satisfactory" over the last ten years. I know we can do better. 

UCIs are primarily squadron or staff division level functional inspections that measure compliance with laws, AFIs and policies. That statement alone should scare you, because it implies that we have total awareness of all the "laws, AFIs and policies" that apply to our organization. It also assumes that we can prove our compliance through proper documentation and procedures. 

Pacific Air Force Instruction 90-201, PACAF Inspector General Inspection Activities, states that a wing/unit needs to "develop an internal program that documents wing self-inspection procedures including timely follow-up actions ... and conduct self-inspections {to include} current special interest items." The self-inspection program is the primary tool we use to ensure compliance and should be an on-going program, not just "UCI prep." 

In order to set a level playing field I wanted to cover some basic self-inspection program terminology. First are mission performance checklists. These are functionally oriented checklists that identify essential items for mission accomplishment. Basically, they are checklists pulled from the parent AFI and are found as 90 series PACAF directives. 

Next are Air Force and PACAF special interest items. Special interest items provide focused management attention, gather data or evaluate specific programs. These change over time and many require replies outside normal inspections. However, any active Air Force and PACAF special interest items will be inspected during the UCI. Everyone should be well aware of the last one: Air Force Instructions. AFIs are policies, directives, and guidelines for use by Air Force personnel as well as associated civilians. AFIs are the final authority and ultimately the compliance requirement we will be held to. 

Getting started 

Probably the first thing we ask ourselves as we approach a UCI is "what do I do first?" The first thing I would do is contact my unit self-inspection point of contact; however, if you are it or just want some basic "how to," please read on. Every unit has to deal with resource shortfalls that affect its mission and compliance attainment. This is what Col. Weckhorst, a former PACAF Inspector General, had to say on the situation, "...squadrons will have shortfalls and limiting factors. You will almost certainly not be able to fully comply with the functional's AFI based checklist." There are items in every unit in the AF that are not in compliance, but resource limitations are not an excuse. 

These are several questions we need to ask ourselves (again from the IG):
   - Prioritize: "What is mission essential?" 
   - Risk assessment: "What are you not doing, and why?"
   - What are your immediate, mid, and long term goals?
   - Does everyone in your organization know?
   - Does your boss or higher head quarters functional know your limiting factors and your get well plan? 

Bottom line--the PACAF/IG says that "Doing well in a UCI isn't based on how many items you can check yes to, but where you are putting your efforts and why." The ultimate take away here is awareness. We must know our compliance requirements, assess the situation, fix any problem areas, prioritize the items we can't get to, and communicate both up and down the chain. Overall, I see a unit's self-inspection program vision (and the one I use) as "total awareness of compliance requirements coupled with outstanding leadership decisions and communication." 

UCI words to live by 

Finally, I wanted to close with some words of wisdom. These quotes are from various PACAF/IG members that have seen more UCIs than we could stand. 

" ... if personnel would read our previous UCI and ORI reports their compliance and readiness would improve and their preparation for our visits would be more productive." 

UCIs are open book tests. If we just look at previous reports (especially our previous report) and not make those same mistakes, we will be more than half way there. 

"If I was preparing a wing for a UCI, I would prepare my checklists from the AFIs and skip the outdated checklists." Mission performance checklists are great tools to use but if the AFI they reference has been rewritten you must cross reference the updated AFI. "Total awareness" requires that we get in the books and there is no way around it. 

"... there are several keys to success. Reviewing the mission performance checklists are perhaps the most significant key process for success." 
This seems to contradict the above quote, but when the IG gets here the first thing they will want to see is your mission performance checklists. We need to start with the most up to date version and customize it with current data. Make it easy for them to see we've done our homework. 

Ensure that when you review your mission performance checklists, you ask the important question to yourself: "Can you show me?" No matter what you write in your mission performance checklist (e.g. why a certain item has been considered in compliance) the IG will want you to prove it. This has been the downfall of many a self-inspection program. I recommend every unit develop a separate quality assurance team to quality check the "show me" phase. 

I hope everyone takes it as a personal challenge that this wing has not rated higher than an overall "Satisfactory" in the last ten years. It is all about awareness and managing your resources. Start now Wolf Pack and show the IG that the 8th Fighter Wing is never just a "SAT."