ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Futures Command received its first major award for process improvement on May 30 during a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

The Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC -- a subordinate command within Army Futures -- received a Lean Six Sigma Excellence Award Program, or LEAP, award for process improvement project in the team category.

The Operations Property Team Process Optimization Program, was developed and implemented by CCDC's center for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance -- or C5ISR.

The center was able to standardize and automate the property management processes for their Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility, or SCIF, which is the second largest on the East coast.

"Our work informs the decisions of multi-million dollar programs of record. If we're developing and integrating intelligence capabilities for a system, we don't need to lose two or three days because we're not tracking that a piece of equipment is sitting on the loading dock," said Michael J. Lombardi, deputy director for I2WD.

The process optimization program resulted in a 30 percent direct labor reduction, almost 100 percent accountability for hand-receipt holders, a 76 percent improvement in inventory/equipment turn ins, an 84 percent improvement in inventory compliance and space efficiency to the extent that I2WD is considering converting some of the existing warehouse into additional lab space.

"We know 100 percent where every single item is down to the room and bin, but this isn't about resources; it's about efficiently developing and delivering effective and reliable capabilities in a quicker period of time," said Bob Daniell, resident Lean Six Sigma, or LSS, Master Black Belt for the center's Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, or I2WD.

"Continuous process improvement is quintessential to assuring that investment dollars are being turned into capabilities for modernization priorities such as Future Vertical Lift or Long Range Precision Fires," Daniell said.

CCDC Commanding General, Maj. General Cedric T. Wins, commended the C5ISR Center for embracing the AFC culture and aligning the project with the command's mission to enhance efficiency and effectiveness for an agile and integrated approach in developing and delivering cutting-edge capabilities for U.S. Soldiers.

"I am proud of them. Their process optimization program presents a potentially enduring capability for AFC and moves CCDC forward by allowing us to have greater visibility into our operations and deliver a greater return on the Army's investment in research and development. They certainly deserve this recognition."

The LEAP award recognizes organizational and project team efforts that use continuous process improvements and LSS' analytically-based methodologies to transform business processes by reducing variation, eliminating waste and improving efficiency, production, effectiveness.

"There are so many tools in the Lean Six Sigma program that can make a big difference in a short period of time," said John Schiels, I2WD chief for Facilities and Property, who noted that the team spent two years developing its own continuous process improvement toolkit filled with LSS best practices from industry.

"We have to educate the workforce beyond sending people to get their green belts and their black belts. It's nice for career development, but you get to the bottom line by doing, so you've got to give them meaningful projects," Schiels said.

The team is now applying its process optimization program to other mission areas -- such as safety, security, network operations and budget.

"We need top management to put continuous process improvement into everything we do. We've proven the capability to make this approach portable to any environment; now it needs to get more aggressively positioned in the engineering divisions, where the mission support is actually occurring," Daniell said.

Going forward, the center plans to share its processes and lessons learned with the rest of the command.

"We all win by having a holistic approach that enables innovation to permeate top down and bottom up. If we can replicate and scale process optimization into the Cross Functional Teams' operations, the methodologies could help standardize the way we collaborate, partner and transition capabilities," said Lt. Col. Manuel Ugarte, CCDC G5 Cross Portfolio Integration, Plans, Programs and Assessments Office.

"When people are empowered to inform the process, we can ignite a culture change. I think we've set the bar, and we invite Army leadership to come here to see what we've done" Ugarte said.

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The C5ISR Center is the Army's applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army's primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.

The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.