ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - The Joint Munitions Command's Lean Six Sigma program has received accolades for being the best of all the subordinate commands in the Army. But it's not resting on its laurels - - it's also striving to be world class in industry.

The JMC received the Subordinate Level Organizational Development Award at the 2009 Army Lean Six Sigma Awards presentation held at the Pentagon on Nov. 24.

The annual Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program recognizes Army organizations and practitioners who demonstrate excellence in building, sustaining and using LSS capabilities. LSS is the continuous process of improvement to transform the way the Army does business.

"It's recognition of our command's use of Lean Six Sigma. It really is a measure of how everyone involved at the JMC has made a difference," said JMC Lean Six Sigma Program Office Acting Deployment Director Steve Tutt.

Since the JMC LSS program began in 2005, 19 percent of the eligible workforce has earned "belts" certifying them as LSS practitioners. At the end of the 2009 fiscal year, 353 projects were completed resulting in more than $66 million in estimated financial benefits. Of the first 20 Army certified Master Black Belts in the Army, five are from the JMC - - three at the headquarters and two at JMC installations.

The award evaluation criteria included organizational capability, leadership, benefits and results, project identification and selection, replication and measurement. Organizations are evaluated on their deployment maturity and their efforts within the previous year to enhance that maturity.

"At the subordinate level, we are the best in the Army. We still have a ways to go, and there are still things we can do to be better," said Tutt.

Two JMC LSS projects resulted in significant cost savings financial benefits in 2009.

The first, a project that got unserviceable ammunition at the installations back into service, saved $13 million in additional expenditures.

"If we hadn't done this, we may have had to buy more ammunition instead of using what we already had," said Tutt.

A second project that stopped unnecessary shipping saved an estimated $8 million. Tutt said that by applying LSS methodology and measuring techniques, the team came up with the best available solution.

Another important type of LSS project, known as replication, is one that isn't just successful on its own. These projects can be reused or applied elsewhere within JMC and the Army, Tutt explained.

A workers' compensation project that put in place a process to stop fraudulent claims is an example of replication. Cost avoidance at the project's installation was $121,000, and other JMC installations are using the process, resulting in cost avoidances of more than $7 million, Tutt said.

"Key to our being seen as the best is that we're tracking this effort. We're not just saying we're good. We've been saying we're getting better, and we have the measures to say where we are and where we're going," Tutt said.

Tutt sees a bright future as well as challenges for JMC's LSS program.

"Our Commander [Brig. Gen. Wyche] has made it clear: We're not looking at just ourselves in the Army, we're looking at how to be world class. Industry has been doing LSS for two decades. So that's a pretty lofty goal," he said.

The Joint Munitions Command, headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, manages the ArmyAca,!a,,cs ammunition production plants and distribution depots; supplies conventional ammunition ranging from bullets to bombs to all military services, other government agencies, and allied nations; and advises military units around the globe through its cadre of on-site ammunition experts.