The chapter hosted keynote speaker Joseph Thele, director of the Air Force Personnel Operations Agency (AFPOA), at its February monthly luncheon. Thele's presentation on “Leveraging Enterprise IT Systems to Support the Big A Airmen” drew a near-record turnout for the chapter's monthly events—more than 140 people, filling the meeting room to capacity and forcing some to be placed on a temporary waiting list to find seats. Thele leads 310 military and civilian employees in providing agile information technology capabilities for the Air Force Personnel Directorate (AF/A1) and its supported field operations agencies. His discussion touched on the AFPOA's mission, current operating conditions and goals. In most ways, the AFPOA is considered the human resources department of the Air Force. Borrowing a phrase from author Simon Sinek, Thele said he would “start with why,” which was a reminder that the agency provides information technology services in support of the greater Air Force family, including active duty personnel, the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserves, retirees and their families. Over the last few years, the AFPOA has initiated and managed several major projects. Its largest undertaking by far has been the consolidation of four major information technology organizations into a single, high-performance team, Thele said. In order to improve efficiency and timeliness, the AFPOA has driven several A1 enterprise information technology initiatives, such as the conversion of promotion boards to electronic records and upgrades to its human resources enterprise resource planning system. Other achievements included the launch of a myPers self-service capability and customer relationship management for airmen worldwide, the consolidation of information technology solutions for major commands, and securing PHI and PII of airmen and their families. Thele noted that the AFPOA is considered to have the best Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance in the Air Force and has now twice received an Outstanding rating on its Cyber Command Readiness Inspection. Pressing forward, the AFPOA is planning enterprise-wide updates to the Employee Benefits Information System, Military Personnel Data System and electronic payment card systems, as well as continued data center optimization.
Given the government's budget uncertainties and fiscal constraints, Thele emphasized that it will be increasingly important to leverage existing capabilities as well as other organizations' capabilities to achieve common goals throughout the military. He also affirmed the importance of communication in order to come up with creative solutions to today's problems. The more we communicate, the better off well be, he said.
In other business, the chapter received updates on recent initiatives from the Publicity Committee and a call for volunteer mentors to help stand up a Way Ahead re-employment program for Wounded Warriors. Emily Rausch, the local vice president for Young AFCEANs, said the chapter is among a small number chosen to run pilot programs for Way Forward. The program will pair veterans from the Wounded Warriors program with two mentors—one a technical adviser and the other a professional guide and mentor for those who seek retraining and eventual employment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related careers.