Air Force continues slashing red tape, starts workforce survey

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The Air Force is continuing to shrink the red tape airmen must disentangle themselves from on a daily basis.

The service announced last week it officially rescinded 226 Air Force instructions and eliminated almost 4,700 compliance items. The force also updated 212 instructions and said another 309 are in the midst of being revised.

Air Force’s top brass: Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright all signed a letter informing the force of the changes.

“We view this as a warfighting imperative, empowering commanders to use good judgement to accomplish the mission,” the letter states. “We have a lot more work to do, but we are confident that we are on the right track.”

The letter comes one year into a two-year review of Air Force instructions, directives and manuals. The service is not just rescinding instructions, it’s also making them easier to understand.

“I insisted the remaining ones be written in English, a lot of them weren’t,” Wilson said to reporters after a speech, referring to the legal language many instructions are written in. “It’s nice to be able to read a draft instruction that I can actually understand and that I might expect an 18-year-old to understand as well.” 

The Air Force found at least 30,000 of the compliance items need to go all the way up the service headquarters to be changed.

“We have an instruction on how to build an obstacle course,” Wilson said. “My guess is if they need to build an obstacle course, they can probably figure it out.”

The reasoning behind the cutback on instructions is twofold. The Air Force wants to free up some time for airmen to spend with their families, since airmen reported feeling overburdened by some of their duties. Secondly, the Air Force wants to give airmen more responsibility to work on their own.

“We don’t expect in future conflict to have the exquisite command, control and communication we’ve had over the last 27 years of combat,” Wilson said. “We will need airmen to take what they know and take mission orders and execute the mission using their best judgement for the circumstances at the time. If we expect them to work that way in wartime then we need to treat them that way in peacetime.”

Climate survey

Rescinding instructions may be a win for the Air Force, but the service wants to know how it’s doing as a whole as well.

The 2018 Total Force Climate Survey is running from Aug. 27 to Oct. 30. The service said the survey helps answer the question: “How is my organization doing?”

“Your feedback is critical in providing Air Force senior leaders an honest view of the organizational climate in the Air Force,” said Brenda Gainey, the Air Force Survey Office chief at the Air Force’s Personnel Center. “One of our top priorities is taking care of people. This means providing everyone the opportunity to perform their best in a healthy work environment.”

The survey is voluntary, takes about 20 minutes to complete and is designed to assess the attitudes and opinions of the force about work environment and organizational climate. The survey also measures leadership support, satisfaction, unit cohesion and recognition.

The Air Force conducted the last survey in March 2015 and received a 23 percent participation rate.

Read more of the DoD Personnel Notebook.