By Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Inspector General AgencyJuly 19, 2017
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- Inspectors general serve a unique and vital function as the "conscience" of the Army, conducting assessments and investigations when necessary in order to best advise and assist Army leaders in maintaining Army values and readiness through good order and discipline.
The Inspector General School, the Army's educational institution for training inspectors general, plays a critical role in training these inspectors general to excel in their jobs. Recently, The Inspector General School earned a near-perfect score on its most recent accreditation evaluation, during which it served as the pilot for the new Army Enterprise Accreditation Standards.
Professional evaluators from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Quality Assurance Office gave The Inspector General School an average score of 97 out of 100 following their evaluation, during which they graded the school on seven functional categories. The Inspector General School received the evaluation results last month, which stated that the school met and exceeded standards for academic quality, the school's dean of academics said.
"Essentially, [being accredited is] the 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval' that says, 'This school has what it takes,'" said Stephen Rusiecki, who has been at The Inspector General School since 2002. "[The evaluators] want to make sure we have a curriculum that effectively teaches what Inspector General students need to know and that it is delivered properly."
A team of five evaluators, led by lead evaluator Darius Ratcliff, was at the school for five days as part of the on-site portion of the accreditation reviewing required documents, observing classroom instruction sessions, and interviewing the instructors, students and other administrative personnel.
"We assess everything from the institution's internal governance processes to how they facilitate their training," said Ratcliff. "We verify that the institution is in compliance [with Army standards], highlight what they do above regulatory or normal requirements, and mentor them on ways to improve areas in which we find they are deficient."
The Quality Assurance Office was looking for a school to pilot the implementation of the new Army Enterprise Accreditation Standards and The Inspector General School volunteered, having had no deficiencies on its previous evaluation. TRADOC devised the new standards to make the Army accreditation process more aligned with public and private civilian accrediting bodies, using nationally recognized standards, Ratcliff said.
"We'd recently undergone an arduous revision of our standards to improve upon efficiencies and add further rigor to our program," said Ratcliff. "Piloting both the new evaluation standards and process at The Inspector General School gave us a foundation to build upon by seeing what worked well and what we needed to do differently."
During its most recent evaluation, The Inspector General School earned perfect scores in four of the seven functional areas. The results were consolidated on a Standards Evaluation Report, which summarized the Quality Assurance Office observations and findings. Ratcliff praised the school for its superior performance during the evaluation.
"What stood out most about The Inspector General School was the consummate level of training they're performing with the small staff they have assigned," said Ratcliff. "[There are] not very many comparable institutions throughout the Army."
The Inspector General School is scheduled to undergo the accreditation process next in 2019.