By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 15, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker is known as the home of Army Aviation and one of the Army's centers of excellence, and excellence is something that has become synonymous with the installation on many levels.
Fort Rucker earned silver in the 2016 Army Communities of Excellence Award, an annual assessment of garrisons across the Army that identifies organizations that are the epitome of excellence during a ceremony at the Pentagon May 24, and Fort Rucker will host its own recognition ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Aug. 2, according to Deena Jones, plans, analysis and integration office director.
"The award, sponsored by the chief of staff of the Army, is really all about taking a criteria and assessing our organization," said Jones. "We get feedback from our team and an outside team that provides some external perspective, and they validate and tell us our strengths, as well as our opportunities for improvement.
"From there, it's all about making the organization better," she said. "The primary goal is all about continuous improvement."
The ACOE award honors the top Army, National Guard and Reserve installations that have achieved high levels of excellence in building a quality environment, outstanding facilities and superior services, and throughout the year-long process, ACOE applicants are assessed and evaluated against the Army priorities and Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, said the PAIO director.
"There are what we call the core values within the criteria that we are assessed against," she said. "Some of those criteria include visionary leadership, systems perspective and frontline, and it showcases the maturity of an organization in these core values.
"This is to assess the garrison, and it encompasses our customers and our tenants," said Jones. "Through it, we're also able to showcase our community relations with the surrounding cities."
Some areas where the installation excelled at were in customer focus, and Fort Rucker typically sustains a greater-than 90 percent of customer satisfaction, said Jones, exceeding the Installation Management Command standard for customer satisfaction.
In addition to the award itself, Fort Rucker was awarded $60,000, which will be used to go back into the community, according to Faye Lewis, garrison resource management office director.
"The funds are used to improve the community," said Lewis. "We ask directors and the garrison activity for ideas and suggestions, and they will submit those suggestions to be weighed and prioritized."
One of the projects that has been decided upon is the addition of a 48-inch, freestanding digital directory kiosk to be placed in the atrium of Bldg. 5700, she said.
The current directory was found to be outdated and difficult for some to read and understand, so it was decided that a new digital, touch-screen monitor will be put in place to help easily guide visitors to where they need to go within the building.
Although the awards and prize money are nice for the installation, the real reward is the ability to help improve the installation, said Jones.
"I think, with this award, it helps to improve the installation because it shows us where we have gaps," she said. "When we assess ourselves against the criteria, we can see where our gaps exist in our performance, so we're then able to work on those for the coming year and improve."
After each award season, an after-action review is also conducted to give the garrison the opportunity to go back in and ask how to correct some of the things could use improvement.
Fort Rucker is no stranger to the award, having won gold in 2013, and Jones said there is no stopping there.
"We're bonding as a team and showcasing what we can do here," she said. "A lot of times we don't get to tell our story -- this tells the garrison story. This showcases our frontline and our first impression to Soldiers who come through our doors. Our frontline personnel are who we want to showcase, and it shows how Fort Rucker is a cohesive team and that it's no one person's effort."