Program aims to improve performance, streamline processes of the Virginia Guard

Several members of the Virginia Army National Guard completed a five-day Baldrige-based Army Communities of Excellence program self-assessment training course Dec. 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Several members of the Virginia Army National Guard completed a five-day Baldrige-based Army Communities of Excellence program self-assessment training course Dec. 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Several members of the Virginia Army National Guard completed a five-day Army Communities of Excellence program self-assessment training course using the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence Dec. 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regional Training Institute.

“I felt that the self assessment course was extremely valuable in developing the methodology to take a hard, unbiased look at how the agency conducts its business processes,” said Maj. John M. Monihan, deputy director of joint operations. “The group attendees was one of the most diverse and engaged groups we’ve had attend the training in the past five years.”

Sponsored by the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and overseen by the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management the ACoE program empowers and recognizes top performing U.S. Army organizations that optimize their environment and demonstrate a commitment to service excellence by using an integrated management approach based on the Baldrige Criteria.

“I’m glad we were able to get this course completed,” said Butch Downing, quality programs manager, Virginia Army National Guard. “Having all the assessment team members getting the same institutional training, done at the same time, makes doing a self-assessment so much easier.”

The award honors the top Army, National Guard and Reserve organizations that have achieved high levels of excellence in building a quality environment, outstanding facilities and superior services.

The ACoE program is a yearlong, voluntary program that assists leaders to assess the overall professional health of their organization, share best practices with other communities and encourages a continuous process improvement mindset.

Beginning in the mid-1980’s, the U.S. Government realized that American companies needed to focus on quality in order to compete in an ever-expanding, demanding global market. Then-Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige was an advocate of quality management as a key to U.S. prosperity and sustainability. After his death in July 1987, Congress instituted an award in his honor.

The goal of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act of 1987 was to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. Its scope has since been expanded to health care, education organizations, nonprofit and government organizations.

“Our main goal is to provide the Adjutant General with an accurate assessment of where the Virginia Army National Guard is and where we need to go,” explained Downing. “If you think of it, the Guard is like a non-profit organization, so let’s run it like a business, using best business practices.”

The Baldrige Criteria are a set of questions about critical aspects of managing and performing as an organization. These questions work together as a unique, integrated performance management framework.

The Virginia Army National Guard uses the Baldrige Criteria as a business model to determine the current state of the organization through a detailed self-assessment, explained Downing.

As the first step in the 2015 assessment, this course brought together leaders from each key department to better capitalize on the Virginia Army Guard’s organizational knowledge. The training is necessary to ensure adherence to the Adjutant General’s strategic goals and priorities, as identified in the 2015 Virginia National Guard Strategic Plan, and consistent understanding and application of the Baldrige criteria.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight, but this process does show our senior and junior leaders how their work processes stand up to what other organizations are doing,” said Downing.

Graduates of the self-assessment course form the backbone of a cross-functional working group led by ACoE trained examiners who provide leadership and direction to the different teams.

Following submission of the application package, a review board performs an assessment of the application qualifications where Department of the Army leaders and civilian examiners review and score applications. The process wraps up with the DA Office of the Judge Advocate General for legal review and the Chief of Staff ‘s final approval.

Winners receive professional recognition to invest in improving their respective installations.

All competing organizations, regardless of size or component, are directly evaluated against the Baldrige criteria. The feedback provided through the assessment process offers valuable insights into the state of the installation and highlights areas for continued improvement.

Several members of the Virginia Army National Guard completed a five-day Baldrige-based Army Communities of Excellence program self-assessment training course Dec. 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Several members of the Virginia Army National Guard completed a five-day Baldrige-based Army Communities of Excellence program self-assessment training course Dec. 5, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Capt. Andrew J. Czaplicki, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)