AF matches posts, personnel

The Air Force last month approved a system that could help it better assign the right
officers to the right jobs.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan and the service’s other top brass gave
the new assignment system a final review early last month at Corona, the quarterly meeting
of senior service leaders in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The service gave its collective thumbs-up to the Air Force Assignment System, which
matches billets with officers from the rank of lieutenant through lieutenant colonel. AFAS
will be implemented early next year, service officials said.

AFAS, managed by the Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas,
includes several new concepts of the Officer Assignment System recommended by a 17-member
review group. Ryan ordered the OAS Review Group in December 1997 to see how the assigning
system, in use since 1995, could be improved.

The group, headed by retired Gen. John Shaud, posted a 14-question survey on the Air
Force Personnel Center Web page. Nearly 10,000 officers responded to the questions about
the OAS’ usefulness.

After a 60-day review of the system and the survey results, the group submitted its
advice to Ryan, who, along with other senior Air Force leaders, approved the
recommendations last March.

“We felt the current system tilted more toward an officer’s individual
desires and not enough consideration was given to the needs of the nation, service and
officer professional development,” Shaud said. “While the personal desires of
the officer are a factor, it should only be one of many considerations used for making
assignments and not the driving factor.”

One big change: OAS was based on volunteer assignments, or preferences expressed by
officers. AFAS will make assignments based on the officer’s qualifications and the
needs of the Air Force, said Lt. Col. Stan Perrin, chief of assignment, procedures and
budget at the Air Force Personnel Center.

Under AFAS, officers no longer volunteer. Instead, they submit their requests for
assignment electronically using a new digital preference worksheet routed through their
commander to assignment officers at AFPC. Assignment teams at AFPC then match officers to
assignments based on what the Air Force needs.

“Under the old system, at times, if an officer volunteered for a job he or she was
often the only volunteer and we were almost forced to put him or her in that position even
though it wasn’t in the best interests of the Air Force,” Perrin said.

AFAS’ new Personnel Requirements Display lists assignment requirements throughout
the service, instead of the more specific, OAS 30-day Job Advertisement System bulletin

Using OAS, officers can search the AFPC Web site for specific jobs, Perrin said. But
AFAS users can access the AFPC Web page and see upcoming assignments over six to nine
months, he said.

Officers then talk to their commanders who, in turn, tell AFPC assignment teams the
kind of assignment they believe would be best for the officers, which gives commanders
more control in picking assignments, he said.

“Under the new system, officers will still have a chance to indicate their
preferences for assignment, but they must go through their commanders,” Perrin said.
“Working through their commanders, officers will communicate their assignment
preferences to their assignment team at the Air Force Personnel Center. So we’ve done
away with click-and-drag volunteering.”

AFPC keeps an electronic copy of assignment requests and considers them for similar
assignments in the future, he said.

AFPC bought eight Dell Computer Corp. servers to support the 70,000 AFAS users. The
three data servers and five Web servers will replace two Compaq ProLiant 5000 and 6000


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