WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A Bolling Air Force Base, D.C.-based intelligence unit received Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award during a Pentagon ceremony Aug. 23.
The 497th Intelligence Group's directorate of security and communications management received the award, given to teams that make significant contributions to the President's National Performance Review, for implementing an advanced security clearance processing plan.
"For many years the conventional wisdom said, 'If you're filling a job that needs a security clearance fill out the paperwork, send it in and then find something else for that person to do'" until the clearance was granted, said Robert Stone, National Performance Review director, who presented the award.
"That changed last year due to a dedicated group of people (in the unit) who revolutionized the way that the Air Force processes security clearances," Stone said.
"They made a difference because they were empowered to make decisions and they made them. They realized that their customer had a problem and they wanted to fix it and they did," Stone said.
Before the plan was implemented in April 1994, the security clearance caseload averaged more than 110,000 cases annually. That created a backlog of more than 44,000 cases for the unit, which is the sole clearance granting office in the Air Force.
The plan has decreased the backlog to less than 1,000. The time a case waits for adjudication has also decreased -- from nearly 200 days to seven. Total savings to the Air Force without the backlog is nearly $95 million.
The office's improvements and initiatives for on-line, real-time updates to Air Force units have been briefed to Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, Air Force chief of staff, who praised the work and endorsed automation initiatives.
Gen. Thomas S. Moorman Jr., Air Force vice chief of staff, highlighted this "success story" at a recent Air Force Quality Symposium. Moorman said the effort was an excellent example of how Quality Air Force principles can be used to improve the way Air Force does business.