COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Vermont Army National Guard was selected as an Army Communities of Excellence finalist from the 54 states and territories that submitted ACOE applications to the National Guard Bureau in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

All applications are reviewed by a panel in August of each year to determine an excellence ranking. Only the top four submissions are selected for a site visit and deemed a finalist for an award recognition in the spring of the following year.

The Vermont Army National Guard placed fourth in 2016 and 2017 based on the results of the site visit each of those years. The results of the 2018 site visit conducted in October will be released in the spring of 2019.

The site visit is used to validate the application and clarify areas in the submission that the panel identified as needing more information. The site visit is also an opportunity for the finalist to demonstrate others areas of excellence that may not have been articulated in the application.

The ACOE program recognizes excellence, drives innovation, organizational learning and produces best practices sharing across the Army. The program is consistent with the Army mission, Army priorities, Army Regulation 5-1, and the Government Performance Results Act Modernization of 2010.

The program uses the Criteria for Baldrige Excellence Framework, published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Senior leaders select and implement performance tools that best fit their organization - such as ISO 9000, the Balanced Scorecard, Continuous Process Improvement, or Lean Six Sigma - to improve efficiency and effectiveness in achieving operational and strategic goals.

"I am extremely proud year after year of our Vermont Army National Guard's work to be a Community of Excellence," said Brig. Gen. Richard Lebel, land component commander. "We continue to perform at a high level every year and it speaks to the work our men and women do to lead the way in how the National Guard performs."

The primary purpose of the ACOE program is to create assessment processes that help leaders identify organizational strengths and key opportunities for improvement. Leaders then use the information to improve work processes and achieve higher levels of performance. The annual application submission from each state/territory is designed to detail the organizations leadership practices, strategy implementation, customer interaction, performance measurements, workforce environment, work processes, and metrics used to evaluate performance improvement.