Compliance should happen every day at Keesler

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Artie Pate
  • 81st Training Wing unit compliance inspection preparation project officer
Compliance is a way of life in the Air Force and is a concept we should practice every day in our work centers. That way, when there is a major inspection, there is no question we are prepared. Keesler's next base-wide inspection, the unit compliance inspection, is scheduled for Oct. 29 through Nov.5.

When the inspectors get here, do not be shy in presenting your work. The best way to demonstrate your level of performance is to polish your programs and shore up deficiencies. Beyond fixing what is broken, one of the most important things you can do is inventory your programs' strengths and devise a plan to highlight them for inspectors.

Being a program owner myself, I know first-hand the importance of attaining and keeping momentum. In 2010, I was the flight chief for Keesler's largest military training flight. My responsibilities included managing the military training leader program, functioning as building manager and administering on-the-job and ancillary training programs. Early that year, results from staff assisted visits, tiger team visits, and self-inspection efforts revealed deficiencies in my programs that needed attention. So, I started on the long and rocky road to improvement.

My process improvement effort did not happen overnight. Rather, supervisors and other leaders shaped my attitude through many mentoring sessions. From these sessions, I developed an all-in attitude, meaning I vowed to pursue excellence and pour all my effort into every aspect of my programs.

I have been through several inspections in my career. To this day, I cannot say that I have ever had a bad one. During the 2010 UCI, I earned the best rating I could have hoped for -- an "outstanding." I was very pleased, but the outcome caused me to wonder how I garnered the top rating while others with programs like mine received an "excellent."

A few weeks later, I asked the inspector what we did during the inspection to earn an "outstanding" rating. He told me that from the time they walked into my building, my staff and I met them with a smile and a warm welcome. He said that each time inspectors started to delve into a program, the program owner was already there, telling them how the program worked and what practices they had in place to ensure they went beyond compliance. He went on to say that everyone inspected acted as if they were happy to be there and were ready to answer all questions without hesitation. Finally, he said that when it was my turn, I showcased my programs for more than an hour and after I left, everything I had just told them was laid out exactly in my binders.

The takeaway from my experience is that it pays to gauge your strengths and promote them with enthusiasm during the inspection. Know your programs intimately and understand what it takes to exceed compliance baselines. Practice compliance every day, whether or not an inspection is in your future. With this outlook, many Keesler programs can earn an "outstanding" rating from the inspection team this fall.