Facilities, IT Issues at the Forefront of AFMC Improvement Efforts

Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Arnold Bunch held an inaugural online town hall on Aug. 8. USAF photo.

Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Arnold Bunch said in a recent video town hall that his organization is digging into the specifics of which facilities problems to address and how to fix them as part of command- and service-level initiatives.

In March, the Air Force unveiled a plan to address a $33 billion backlog in base maintenance and demolish 5 percent of facilities that aren’t essential to missions.

Bunch said Aug. 8 that AFMC is in the process of highlighting its own facilities issues to senior leaders after former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein signed off on the installation improvement strategy to “buy down some of that risk.” The command oversees systems development, testing, and lifetime maintenance, and is home to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“We’re working on our budgeting process right now to see how much of that we can support and how quickly we can get there, but to have a document signed by the secretary of the Air Force and the chief that identifies that we’re falling behind is a key step to me in being able to address those shortfalls,” Bunch said.

Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Arnold Bunch hosts a command-wide online town hall at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, on. Aug. 8, 2019. Video: 88th Air Base Wing

He added that the Air Force is “working to compete many of those ideas” of projects that need attention, but couldn’t promise that all issues will get fixed.

Airmen have raised information technology infrastructure problems during “AFMC We Need” talks, Bunch noted. IT and facilities are two areas about which officials expected to hear systemic complaints.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is capture our downtime and the loss of productivity so that we can better inform senior leaders as to exactly the impacts and ramifications,” Bunch said. “We’re probably more IT-dependent than many of the other [major commands], so we’re trying to quantify and qualify what it is that we lose so that we’re making more informed decisions about our investments.”

The command-wide initiative, which began earlier this summer and wraps up in mid-August, is reaching out to AFMC personnel to find ways to improve the organization and posture it to meet the needs of the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Employees have submitted more than 30,000 comments in response to over 4,000 surveys and nearly 7,000 interviews, according to a recent Air Force release.

“Some early data trends include issues centered on slow networks, outdated equipment, IT infrastructure and facility improvement needs,” the service said. “A desire to streamline processes and approval hierarchies was identified in a number of different mission areas, though it is too early to know if issues are command-wide or specific to functional areas, locations or centers.”