21st Theater Sustainment Command wins DA Lean Six Sigma awards
Brig. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, the commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, poses with Scott Ferge (left), the project team leader, and other team members from the 266th Financial Management Center on Panzer Kaserne in Kaiserslautern, Germany Jan. 26. The team won a Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma excellence award for its project that eliminated erroneous payments of Basic Allowance for Housing, producing $905, 235 total financial benefit in 2011, and will produce estimated financial benefits of more than $3.5 million over the next 6 fiscal years.

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany --The 21st Theater Sustainment Command and a Project Team from the 266th Financial Management Center won the Department of the Army's Lean Six Sigma Organizational Deployment award and a Project Team award.

Recovering $621,548 in incorrect housing payments, and reducing man hours worth about $117,849 as well as other related cost avoidance, a 21st Theater Sustainment Command Green Belt Project Team from the 266th FMC completed a project that produced total financial benefits of $905,235 in Fiscal Year 2011, for the U.S. government, with an estimated total cost savings and cost avoidance of $4.6 million through Fiscal Year 2017.

They accomplished this by re-vamping the way housing allowances are reviewed when service members' entitlements change based on permanent change of station or other factors. This financial benefit includes both the money calculated to be saved through more efficient operations, and actual funds recovered from previous incorrect payments.

The project focused on service members who were incorrectly receiving basic allowance for housing while also receiving overseas housing allowance or other entitlements they were not supposed to be receiving.

The team came upon a few outstanding cases, and from there developed a system to review these entitlements more accurately when they change, then to train finance personnel in the appropriate entitlements and to recover incorrect payments.

"We knew there was a problem with people collecting BAH that they shouldn't be, but we didn't know how to sort them out," said project lead Scott Ferge. "At first we searched for the high BAH areas like New York, but that returned so many results. Then, I saw one where the person was collecting BAH for New York, but Cost of Living Allowance for Germany. It was an instant epiphany!"

Using this and other unusual situations that are usually indicative of incorrect payment of entitlements, the team developed a system to screen for incorrect payment situations. In some cases, it appeared that it was an intentional fraud, and the case was passed to the Criminal Investigation Division for investigation.

Not satisfied to simply recover those funds, the team also developed a training plan to retrain finance personnel in proper entitlement processing.

"It's really simple," said Ferge. "We can see who processed the entitlements, and we can provide that person with some extra training on the subject."

In addition to the award for the Team Project, the 21st TSC also won an award for organizational deployment, which takes a broad overall look at how the organization implements its Lean Six Sigma program.

Page last updated Thu February 2nd, 2012 at 01:24