SDDC inspection program to improve processes, readiness
Shantoya Wiley, and Chris Hubbard from the 597th Transportation Bde. and Capt. Todd from SDDC review an inspection checklist during the Command Inspection Program at the 832nd Transportation Bn. headquarters at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. March 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

SHILOH, Ill. -- The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command is developing an organizational inspection program focused on streamlining command, staff and Inspector General inspection processes under one umbrella. The program will ensure unit readiness through the use of dedicated inspection management software.

SDDC’s OIP will be a commander-controlled, dynamic program that is tailored to the organization and provides the command with an internal mechanism to identify, prevent and eliminate issues that affect readiness. It’s the responsibility of its commander, Maj. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, and of each of her brigade commanders to set the scope and nature of their respective programs, giving them maximum latitude to design and implement their own unique OIP.

“AR 1-201 requires the command to have an OIP,” said Tom Brewer, chief of the Policy and Standards Division within SDDC’s Operations directorate.

SDDC’s OIP includes a variety of internal inspections, including the Command Inspection Program, IG inspections, Internal Audit inspections, and staff assistance visits. It also tracks external requirements such as Army Audit Agency, Government Accounting Office and DoD inspections or investigations.

“The OIP gathers internal and external inspection requirements into one program to ensure all inspections complement each other and focus on high-payoff readiness issues. It provides a framework to synchronize and de-conflict inspections with other priorities while minimizing redundancy and overlapping of inspections,” said Lisa Fister, who, along with Ken Harris, manages the OIP for the command.

Some form of OIP has been around since the ‘80s, establishing that inspections were a commander’s and not the IG’s responsibility. By 1991, most units had some type of OIP, but most failed to include the commander’s inspection program within it.

“The IG is the commander’s principal advisor regarding OIP,” said Brewer. “The G3’s role is to provide the operational framework for the program.”

Fast forward to 2010, and the Secretary of the Army released a memorandum directing all battalion-level and above headquarters and Department of the Army staff agencies to develop viable and fully functioning inspection programs.

Army Inspection Policy has changed over the years, shaping today’s programs to focus on identifying and solving issues rather than punitive actions against leaders.

“The approach is more of teaching and training than of finding fault. The goal is to help our units meet standards to improve and maintain readiness,” said Brewer.

According to Fister, part of the program’s success will come from a recently established OIP working group, made up of select personnel from inspection programs at the headquarters and brigade levels and led by Col. Stephen York, SDDC chief of staff.

“The working group will share knowledge, review and confirm upcoming inspection schedules, solicit feedback, and review results from past inspections to identify trends and requirements for future inspections,” said York.

Previously residing in SDDC’s Personnel directorate, the OIP program moved in January 2021 to Brewer’s new Policy and Standards Division within G3, where the focus is on operational policies and standards for SDDC.

“Across the Army, the OIP is typically aligned with operations,” said Brewer. “Having OIP in G3 makes it easier to operationalize the program and to integrate it within the operational mission of the command at echelon.”

One of the most critical updates the OIP team is working on is the addition of an OIP management software application.

“The OIP Management Tool is a web-based application designed to support the OIP by functioning as a central information repository that will manage all inspections within the command, deconflict redundant inspections and track corrective actions,” said Harris.

Rather than start from scratch, SDDC will use an application that has already been used successfully at Joint Munitions Command.

“In early 2020, after several years of research, software testing and collaboration with JMC, we came to the conclusion that JMC had developed and successfully implemented OIP software that comes the closest to fitting SDDC’s OIP mission requirements,” said Fister.

SDDC’s G6 Enterprise Management team recently began modifying the tool to fit the command’s needs, and command leaders expect to see initial operational capability by early next year.

“One of the key features of SDDC’s program will be a common inspection calendar that allows commanders and staff at all levels to see what inspections are currently scheduled and also see “white space” available to schedule future inspections,” said Brewer.

Even though the tool is not ready, the SDDC team is leaning forward and implementing calendars and tracking systems on its SharePoint site to be used until the software is approved.

“Ultimately, the OIP is about assessing and improving readiness across the command,” said Brewer.