Policy Letter

From the office of the Secretary of the Air Force    June 1994, p. 3


Secretary Widnall recently said, "The outcome of the National Performance Review (NPR) was a set of four basic principles. They are: -- cutting the red tape -- making people accountable for achieving results, not following rules; --putting customers first--insisting on customer satisfaction; -- empowering employees -- decentralizing authority and allowing people to make their own decisions and come up with innovative solutions to challenges; -- and cutting back to basics -- abandoning obsolete ways of doing things and increasing productivity by re-engineering how we get the job done. "The NPR couldn't have come at a better time for the Department of Defense. Now that we're faced with fewer resources, we must be extremely efficient with what we have to ensure we maintain readiness to meet the dangers we still face in our uncertain world. Within DOD, we're taking a look at how we operate in defense through the Defense Performance Review.

"Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom Mclnerney, who heads up the DPR, observed that we really have two cultures within DOD--the way we manage the department on a day-to-day basis and the way we fight wars. When we fight wars, we use the same principles leading-edge companies use, the same principles we used to win Desert Storm and liberate Kuwait. We empower our people to make their own decisions; we decentralize for quick decision making and tight cycle times; we have stated mission objectives toward which everyone is working; and of course we are working within our core business and competencies. But, in our management of DOD, we have excessive regulation and policies, a hierarchical way of doing business that stifles our ability to get things done efficiently.

"We're changing that, using the principles major corporations are using to run their global operations. We're taking the best practices of leading-edge companies, such as those in the auto industry, and other government organizations, along with our own innovations, and introducing them into DOD. The DPR is prototyping new ways to improve our management and bringing about a quality culture throughout DOD.

"We believe the Air Force is out in front. First of all, I'm pleased to say that from the beginning of the NPR, Vice President Gore recognized our own Air Combat Command as an excellent example of an organization that had doubled its productivity within five years because top managers had empowered everyone to strip away the red tape and get the job done.

"One of our ongoing efforts is to reduce our own regulatory policy, an effort that was specifically cited by Vice President Gore as a model for the federal government in streamlining policy. In fact, our initiative inspired the president to sign an executive order directing all federal agencies to reduce regulations by 50 percent. As a result, we've assisted over 50 other federal agencies with their streamlining efforts.

"Our original goal was to reduce Air Force regulations by 35 percent in number of publications and by 50 percent in number of pages. We wanted to separate policy from procedures, limiting procedural guidance to only the essentials to let the commanders have more freedom to decide how best to do their jobs. We also wanted to establish performance measurement metrics to measure policy implementation .

"We threw out the regulations, and, starting with a clean sheet of paper, we developed 170 Air Force policy directives averaging about two pages of text plus associated metrics. Then we had the people who do the work develop Air Force instructions containing procedural guidance. We also moved into the electronic age and are publishing the new documents on CD-ROM. The result? Two years ago, we had over 1,800 regulations and 55,000 pages. Today we have 170 Air Force Policy Directives and 700 AirForce Instructions totalingabout 17,000pages --well over a 50 percent reduction when we're through . That's real progress.

"The NPR has provided an unparalleled opportunity for us to restructure the way we operate, and we're totally into its principles. We're looking for even greater accomplishments in the future. We must find ways to do the job better and ways that cost us less. And we're convinced that through the innovation, creativity, and empowerment of our Air Force people, we'll meet the challenges we face as we build a quality Air Force for today and tomorrow."