FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (24 Mar. 2011) -The U.S. Army Forces Command's process improvement branch of G-8 (the process improvement branch is part of the new Efficiencies Division in the G-8) resource management has an ambitious agenda April 4-29: train Soldiers and civilian employees at three posts in the latest Lean Six Sigma Black Belt continuous-process improvement techniques.

The FORSCOM team will visit Forts Bragg, Drum and Riley this April providing innovative government and business best practices and methods designed to improve the quality of work processes by identifying and removing the causes of errors and defects. The Forces Command resource management team will participate in Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training at Fort Bragg April 4-8, at Fort Drum April 11-15, and at Fort Riley April 25-29. Practitioners of Lean Six Sigma saved the Army $1 billion in 2009.

During an October ceremony at the Pentagon to recognize winners in the 2010 Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program, or LEAP, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph P. Westphal explained just how valuable practitioners of the manufacturing and business process improvement programs are to the Army. He said in 2009, those individuals, and thousands of others across the Army, produced for the Army $1 billion in cost savings and $3.3 billion in cost avoidances during fiscal year 2010. The secretary said that in times budget cuts, military spending is under scrutiny.

"We're in the sights of the Army, in the sights of the Congress ... of the Office of Management and Budget -- in the sights of all these entities of ensuring we do a better job of managing ourselves and of being better stewards of the nation's resources," Westphal said. "All are calling for us to manage ourselves better, to be more innovative." He said that the Army's Lean Six Sigma practitioners are part of helping the Army be better stewards of the taxpayer dollars.

U.S. Army leaders and their industry counterparts recently agreed that they can work together to increase productivity and help identify areas of economic efficiency and cost savings in an era of constrained resources, speaking Feb. 25 during a joint panel discussion here at the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium.

"We need a strong relationship with our industry partners so they can give us the feedback needed to make the best decisions possible," said Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.

The "efficiencies" discussion was grounded in guidance from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a Sept. 14, 2010, memo from Dr. Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics titled "Better Buying Power: Guidance for Obtaining Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending Initiatives."

Gates' guidance and the Carter memo call upon the services to find areas of economic efficiency by eliminating redundancy, moving to more fixed-price contracts, in-creasing competition among industry partners and achieving cost savings where possible, among other things. A key element of the drive for efficiencies is the recognition that much of the cost savings will be re-invested in Army programs, he said.

Lt. Gen. Bob Durbin, acting director of the Office of Business Transformation, discussed the importance of looking at enterprise business processes across the Army, emphasizing posturing to effectively and efficiently execute programs across the business enterprise. "Clearly there are efficiencies to be gained across our enterprise business processes," Durbin said.