U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
Senior officials at the Air Force Academy spoke to the headquarters’ staff about employee feedback and IT upgrades Jan. 23.
Gail Covin, director of staff, hosted the all-call for the 460-member headquarters. The headquarters staff is responsible for providing the guidance and policies that enable the other mission elements on base to accomplish the Academy’s mission of developing leaders of character.
During the all-call, Colvin admitted the headquarters’ staff’s workload was made more intense by the 2013 sequestration budget cuts and they continue to be effected by those decisions.
“The Academy has not gone back to pre-sequestration manpower levels. Most bases have but not us,” she said.
The sequestration resulted in spending and manpower cuts to keep government spending in line with the austere Budget Control Act of 2011, which went into effect March 1, 2013.
To bear the fiscal brunt of sequestration, Colvin said Academy staff looked for ways to find savings.
“We’re recapitalizing a lot of infrastructure in ways we’ve never done before,” she said. “The iconic Air Force Academy Chapel, the most visited man-made structure in Colorado, will begin a massive repair and restoration effort next year. In addition to the Chapel, the two cadet dormitories, Vandenberg hall and Sijan hall as well as the cadet athletic facilities are currently being renovated.”
One complaint seen on employee surveys taken by the headquarters’ staff is the speed and availability of the Department of Department IT network used by Academy staff and cadets.
Col. Harold Hoang, the Academy’s chief information officer, expects this to get fixed.
“We’re scheduling and implementing about 10-years’ worth of IT upgrades over the next year or so,” he said at the all-call.
One initiative has the Academy moving off the DOD network to a commercial internet service provider.
“The new commercial ISP offers a 10-gigabyte circuit, increasing capacity by ten-fold over the current ‘.edu’ network,” Hoang said. “The first circuit is installed and being integrated into the network.”
The chief information officer said the commercial ISP is expected to provide the features and flexibility the school needs to better serve faculty, staff and cadets.
The DOD network will continue to provide access to the ‘.mil’ domain for headquarters’ staff. Computer users will be able to access both networks when the move is complete.
“The benefits of operating both networks simultaneously include improving bandwidth throughout and minimizing network shutdowns,” Hoang said.
Academy officials want to expand the installation’s Wi-Fi coverage via the cloud services. The school is one of two Air Force installations slated to evaluate using Chromebooks, laptops with most applications and data stored on cloud services.
“The combination of moving toward a commercial ISP network, Wi-Fi expansion, Cloud-based computing, and a zero-trust architecture is expected to allow significant increase in speed, agility and adaptability in support of the Academy’s university mission while enhancing cybersecurity,” Hoang said.
Colvin thanked the headquarters’ staff for its ability to manage its heavy workload for the betterment of the Academy.
“We’re getting a lot of attention from the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force,” she said. ‘They both want to know that the Academy is doing the best it can.”
The director of staff said ‘all calls’ for the headquarters’ staff will be more frequent and an effort by Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, Academy superintendent, to visit with each Airmen, employee and squadron.
“The conversation should continue,” she said. “We owe all of you at least that much.”