By Marcus Hill | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Space Wing Inspector General’s office remains fluid with its mission despite the impact of COVID-19 mitigation measures.
The 50th SW IG normally holds an exercise once per quarter to prepare for disasters.
The virus thwarted plans for a scheduled exercise in March, but 50th SW IG decided to use COVID-19 to test the base’s readiness. COVID-19 response measures meet the requirement for public health emergency and disaster preparedness.
“What better way to assess a wing’s ability than to look at how it’s doing in real time in a real-world situation?” said Lou Fischer, 50th SW IG deputy inspector general. “We’ve sat in on meetings to see how units are adjusting and see how leadership is addressing [COVID-19].”
Initially, 50th SW IG noted changes in performance once many Airmen moved to telework due to COVID-19. Since adapting to telework, however, inspections showed improvements.
“On the second and third look people adjusted how they did their work to address concerns,” Fischer said. “[Work] got better after the second look because it gave leadership the ability to emphasize the importance that certain things shouldn’t fall to the wayside just because they’re teleworking.”
The Commander’s Inspection Program also had to readjust its methods on reporting information to improve unit effectiveness and help Airmen remain ready for their mission. Traditional in-person reporting at the monthly Commander’s Inspection Management Board had to shift to electronic review versus in-person in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“We used to have a big meeting with leadership — group, squadron and wing leadership — all in one room to discuss all of the major findings for any of the four major areas [managing resources, improving the unit, leading people and executing the mission],” said Lt. Col. Gail Smicklas, 50th SW IG inspector general. “But we’ve had to go virtual to send out slides from what we found in [Management Internal Control Toolkit] and [Inspector General Evaluation Management System].”
Typically, the 50th SW IG develops a team to inspect units to ensure they’re in line with wing readiness. The pandemic, however, forced 50th SW IG to cease inspections and reassess their approach to complete their mission.
“We knew we could do [our mission] by looking at the databases like MICT where units keep track of certain requirements they’re responsible for to see how units are accomplishing checklist items to track what they’re using,” Fischer said. “We also use IGEMS, which is a database where they track previously found deficiencies and we can look at how they’re managing those and if they’re fixing those as required.
“We refocused how we conducted our monthly meeting where we report those findings from MITC and IGEMS. Our individuals go into those databases to pull out those deficiencies and issues affecting units and we present those through slideshows for leadership to review and address whatever questions they have for wing commanders.”
Fischer said preparations and inspecting each unit varies based on their mission as well as reported findings.
“For example, for [the 50th] Security Forces [Squadron], you inspect them depending on how they’re securing the base and providing the required services they do,” he said. “Even during normal operations we would take a deep look at the unit where we could before we would go out there to inspect them.”
Both Smicklas and Fischer noted they miss the ability to conduct exercises and inspections in person but know their work remains effective.
“At least we can use real-world events as well as virtual checklists to stay on top of our requirements,” Smicklas said. “We’ve done our best to use virtual checklist and real-world operations to make sure our readiness is up to standards.”
For additional information regarding 50th SW IG, contact Smicklas at 719-567-3764.