In 2000, Redstone Arsenal's Army Community Service was among the first to go through the Army's three-year accreditation process.

Last week ACS became the first to receive its fourth three-year accreditation.

"We are the first in the Department of the Army to pass for a fourth time with commendation - which means above and beyond," ACS director Sue Paddock said. "I'm really thrilled. It's very hard work. The ACS team met all of the standards a hundred percent. It's a total team effort with our community partnerships as well. A lot of community agencies played a part which contributed to our success."

Here are some of the highlights of the accreditation team's findings:
A-A A(R) ACS has a dedicated, professional staff.
A-A A(R) This is a premier ACS center.
A-A A(R) It won the ACS installation of excellence award in 2002 and 2007.
A-A A(R) There are strong community partnerships with both the installation and the outside Huntsville community agencies.
A-A A(R) It has an outstanding professional volunteer force that supports all ACS programs.
A-A A(R) It serves as a model for other ACS's.
A-A A(R) The staff has a strong family bond with cross-training to ensure that Soldiers and families get the best care.
A-A A(R) There is strong command and senior leadership.
A-A A(R) There is a highly-committed ACS volunteer coordinator as well as honorary volunteer coordinator.
A-A A(R) It has a well-integrated strategic plan that addresses Base Realignment and Closure transformation.
A-A A(R) ACS serves as a community integrator fostering community cohesion.

"There are 85 installations in the Army that go through the accreditation process," Stanley Lawson, chief of Army Community Service accreditation under the Installation Management Command, said. "So when you say Redstone is the first installation to go through accreditation four times, that's quite significant."

Lawson from Fort Monroe, Va., participated in last week's accreditation inspection here conducted by the Southeast Region, based at Fort McPherson, Ga. The team leader was Karen Crowley from Fort McPherson. Other members included Rebecca Kaplan, Martin Inman, Juanita Warren, all from Fort McPherson; Alecia Grady from Northeast Region, Fort Monroe, Va.; and Richard Myers from Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation Command, Alexandria, Va.

"Inspection takes 4-5 days depending on the size of the installation," Lawson said. "We will look at probably 5,000-6,000 pages of material and close to 500-1,000 files and documents. ACS accreditation is not just ACS. It's how ACS is supported in their mission by medical command and the clinic here, the Directorate of Public Works, logistics, plans folks, resource management, Child Youth and School Services, the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center and human resources, the operations center staff. So it's a community effort because ACS touches the community.

"It's all part of a puzzle. If one piece of the puzzle doesn't pass, the puzzle's not completed," he said. "It truly is a community effort."

When the accreditation process first started in 2000, an Army Community Service had to meet all 268 items that were evaluated. The Army reconsidered that process and changed it in 2002 to two sets of standards. Under category one, all 149 items must be met; and those deal with health, safety or federal requirements. Under category two, 58 standards concern Army regulations, Department of Defense requirements, and post and command policies. An ACS has to score 90 percent or better to pass that category.

"The short of that (accreditation process) is it's pretty dang hard to pass," Lawson said. "You've got to have your game on."

According to the results, Redstone's ACS has been on its game since the beginning.

"This is probably one of the top 10, top 15, ACS's in the Army for the population it serves and the demographics," Lawson said.

Last week's accreditation was the last regional inspection before the Army changes the process. Previously, each region within Installation Management Command conducted its own inspections. Beginning in January 2010, two teams will conduct all the inspections throughout the Army.