Vigilance pays beyond the flightline

  • Published
  • By Mr. D. Scott Eucker
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Inspector General
Those who have ever had a flightline driver's license know Foreign Object Damage prevention is deeply embedded into our Air Force safety culture. Constant vigilance in keeping debris off ramps, taxiways and runways prevents jet engine damage, saves millions of dollars in aircraft repair costs and may save the lives of Airmen.

On the first day of training, flyers are taught "no rings and things" and our talented maintainers are similarly indoctrinated with ensuring full accountability for every tool taken on and off the aircraft. There is another resource saving responsibility we must consider and apply in every organization and work area, on base or deployed. It's called Fraud, Waste and Abuse prevention.

Preventing FWA is public law and is a high priority for the Department of Defense. The Air Force's program is aimed at preventing, detecting and correcting illegal, inefficient and wasteful practices; disciplining perpetrators involved in FWA activities; and recouping, if possible, losses of cash, property and services resulting from FWA.

We all have read troubling headlines regarding gross FWA violations, but where do we draw the line on what is reportable? Let me put it this way, what lengths would you go to in order to protect your personal assets, including your financial endeavors? The same diligence you place on your close hold items should be applied to the Air Force assets we use. To prevent violations, safeguard resources and improve efficiencies associated with personnel, equipment and property, here are some key points to keep in mind.

Fraud is defined as deliberately depriving the United States Government of something of value, for example, receiving benefits we are not entitled. Such practices include, but are not limited to, submitting false travel claims, offering or accepting bribes and gratuities and falsifying records.

In fact, one professional standard associated with deterring this conduct is mirrored in our Air Force "integrity first" core value. Government contracts, housing allowances, Government Purchase Card purchases, Defense Travel System programs, government-issued cell phone use, resource management and inventory control are just a few of the sensitive areas that warrant a commander's, supervisor's and functional manager's "watchful eye."

Waste is described as the extravagant, careless or needless expenditure of government funds or the consumption of government property resulting from deficient practices, system controls or decisions. Whether it's aircrews delaying engine start times and adjusting airspeeds to maximize fuel efficiencies to save thousands of dollars in jet fuel, or office managers preventing unnecessary "use it or lose it" expenditures during end-of-year closeout, we all benefit from discovering ways to bolster economy.

Putting this into perspective, the DoD Inspector General identified 193 million dollars in waste in the first half of fiscal year 2011. Working together, we can streamline efforts to help make our operations more efficient, freeing up significant funds to meet high-priority organizational needs.

Lastly, abuse involves wrongful or improper use of government resources. This may include the misuse of rank, position or authority that causes the loss or misuse of resources such as tools, vehicles, computers or copy machines. For instance, taking home a government laptop to conduct personal business or using a government vehicle to run personal errands.

Note the term "personal" in both examples; Air Force Instructions and DoD Joint Ethics Regulations limit the use of federal resources to official purposes only. When in doubt, check the directives or ask a supervisor.

Like the FOD program, successful FWA prevention and elimination lies with every person within the Air Force: military, civilian and contractor. Anyone aware of a suspected FWA violation must report it immediately to their supervisor, commander or the IG office.

Please reference IG posters within your duty sections or web search "McChord IG" for more information. Additionally, a 24-hour McChord Field FWA Hotline is available at (253) 982-5841, or you can come by the 62nd AW IG Office in Building 100, Suite 3021. We also accept anonymous reports, but we will need enough detail to ensure an adequate inquiry can be conducted.

Remember, your part in FWA prevention is not only essential for efficient and effective operations, it is also a professional responsibility and core value imperative. Let's all be vigilant stewards of our Air Force's valuable resources wherever we serve!