Duty Planning Fusion: How AFRC is developing a better way to plan, schedule and track participation

Led by Lt. Col. Jason Reiss, a 25-member team has come up with a plan called Duty Planning Fusion designed to solve a myriad of problems involved in the Air Force Reserve's pay and participation process.

Led by Lt. Col. Jason Reiss, a 25-member team has come up with a plan called Duty Planning Fusion designed to solve a myriad of problems involved in the Air Force Reserve's pay and participation process.

Citizen Airman/Dec. 2017 -- When then-Maj. Jason Reiss came off active duty in 2008 and joined the Air Force Reserve, he quickly learned how complicated the Reserve pay and participation process can be.

“My first job as a Reservist was director of operations for a new classic associate detachment standing up at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina (the 414th Fighter Group),” Reiss, now a lieutenant colonel who serves as special assistant to the commander of the 414th FG, said during a recent interview at Air Force Reserve Command headquarters, Robins AFB, Georgia.

“I was hired as an ART (air reserve technician) and was the first full-timer brought into that unit. The squadron commander told me to go learn how to be a Reservist and stand the unit up. He sent me on a whirlwind tour to benchmark how other Reserve units conducted their business.

“That’s when I had my first taste of how we do inactive and active-duty scheduling; how we do timecard management; how we de-conflict being in civilian status and military status. I was amazed at how complicated the whole process was and how much time and money we were spending on scheduling and managing participation — time we should have been spending getting the mission done.”

Over the next few years, Reiss became much more familiar with the various computer-based Reserve pay and participation tools, like the Air Force Reserve Order Writing System – Reserve, the Unit Training Assembly Participation System and the Air Reserve Component Network. But he couldn’t shake the idea that there had to be a better way of managing Reserve participation.

Not surprisingly, other people throughout AFRC were having similar thoughts. In 2011, the Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services assembled a team of about 25 experts from across the command for a process improvement event to discuss improving the military duty and participation process. Reiss was a part of that Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century event.

“We made a lot of progress at that event,” he said. “We identified numerous inefficiencies because we had all of these separate systems that don’t talk to each other. We also knew, anecdotally, that we were spending a lot of time doing participation management instead of our AFSC (Air Force specialty code) tasks. But we didn’t know exactly how much time.”

Reiss took it upon himself to research just how much time and money the Reserve was spending on participation management. While attending Air Command and Staff College in 2012, he wrote a master’s thesis titled “Parting the Administrative Red Sea: The Case for Revolutionizing the Air Force Reserve Command Pay and Participation Process.”

“Very conservatively, I found that AFRC could easily save 96,000 man-hours and between $2 million and $4 million each year just by bringing all of the data together into one easily digestible format,” he said.

Not long after AFRC finished its AFSO21 event in 2011, the Air Force announced it was creating the Air Force Integrated Personnel and Pay System, and this new system would simplify the Reserve’s pay and participation process.

“We were hopeful that AFIPPS was going to solve our problems,” Reiss said. “Unfortunately, the Air Force put a strategic pause on AFIPPS, so we in the Reserve went back to work to tackle this issue.”

In 2015, Reiss and a group of subject-matter experts briefed AFRC senior leaders on the problems with the pay and participation process and got their approval to work on attempting to fix those problems.

The command put together a 25-member team to analyze the problems and identify solutions. Reiss is serving as the requirements lead for that team. The solution the team has come up with is called Duty Planning Fusion.

“That’s how DPF was born,” he said. “Since then, the group has been following a six-step service development delivery process to identify the requirements and the best way to get to the desired end state.”

Reiss said the team has identified 19 total requirements to create the efficiency gains of 96,000 man-hours and monetary savings of between $2 million and $4 million per year.

“DPF centers around a single, intuitive calendar-based interface that you can go to and de-conflict active duty from inactive duty,” he said. “Supervisors and members can request duty or approve duty. You can put your civilian schedule in there. Reservists have to be able to marry manpower with money to accomplish the mission. DPF will allow you to do that in one location.”

“DPF will be a user-friendly and intuitive application containing all business rules dealing with every participation status our members encounter month to month all bolted onto AROWS-R and displayed on one singular calendar,” said Larry Lee, a Reserve participation manager in the Directorate of Manpower, Personnel and Services at AFRC headquarters, who serves as the DPF team leader.

“Because DPF will be attached to AROWS-R, members will easily be able to schedule and reschedule inactive-duty requirements along with their active-duty requirements,” Lee said. “Even better, all scheduled, approved and performed duty will be evident and auditable within the application, so many of the forms used today to secure authorization to perform duty will be embedded in DPF and sent directly to those officials who approve them.”

Lee said the DPF initiative is a collective effort between the personnel, financial management and communications directorates at AFRC headquarters with advisement and support from Command Enterprise Architects, and the government agency that provides development for the AROWS-R system.

“Our plan is to roll out DPF in four spirals with the first-phase deployment tentatively set for October 2018,” Lee said. “Be on the lookout for more information on DPF as we get closer to rolling out the first spiral next year.”