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LEAP award winners lauded at Pentagon ceremony

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 29, 2011) -- Practitioners of Lean Six Sigma were recognized Nov. 29 for streamlining Army business processes that help save the Army money.

During a ceremony at the Pentagon to recognize winners in the 2011 Army Lean/Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program, or LEAP, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal explained just how valuable practitioners of the manufacturing and business process improvement programs are to the Army.

More than a dozen people stand together at the front of a room.  Behind them are multiple flags and wall-hanging s which represent the Medal of Honor.
Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal and Lt. Gen. William T. Grisoli, director of the office of business transformation, presented the 2011 Army Lean/Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program awards during a Nov. 29, 2011, ceremony at the Pentagon.

Westphal said he had spent the morning with other Army senior leaders discussing the fiscal year 2014 program objective memorandum and how shrinking budgets would affect that process.

"The challenges we talked about, the challenges to the Army that the DOD and the country will face over the course of the next few years, and certainly through the POM (Program Objective Memorandum) that we are going to build are pretty significant," he said. "We did talk a good deal about the need to really get our business transformation processes better aligned to garner more savings.

Westphal said the more the Army can employ best practices and business process improvement to gain efficiencies, the easier it will be for the Army to meet the challenges that come with declining budgets.

Lean and Six Sigma are two methods for improving business processes that can help the Army meet budget challenges.

"These awards of course recognize the work that organizations and team leaders have been doing in finding real savings, and really getting these business processes to perform much better," Westphal said. "I am a big supporter of Lean/Six Sigma because I think it does give us a way ahead. It is always a learning process, it builds sustainability within our business processes so that future leaders, future managers can benefit from the success of all of you today and we can continue to learn and move those processes forward."

Lean and Six Sigma are tools to improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of processes. Lean is used to get rid of waste in a process, while Six Sigma is used to reduce variation. Practitioners of the two processes are certified as "green belts," "black belts," and "master black belts."

Representatives from Program Executive Office Ammunition, out of Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. were at the ceremony to receive the AR 10-87 Level Organizational Deployment Award.

"We got an organizational deployment award, which encompasses how many projects we've done: all the benefits, all the cost avoidance benefits that we bring to the Army, as well as the percentage of certifications across the entire organization that are trained in green and black belt," said Barbara Gabbard, a Lean Six Sigma practitioner with PEO Ammo.

In fiscal year 2011, PEO Ammo implemented about 20 LSS projects that resulted in a cost avoidance for the Army of about $160 million in fiscal year 2011.

Those projects included a small caliber safety critical characteristic classification -- a set of four projects -- which improved the safety of 5.56m, 7.62mm and .50 cal rounds and generated a financial benefit of $40 million. PEO Ammo also ran an Improvised Explosive Device Defeat project which improved the process to urgently release products to the field, getting systems to Soldiers quicker, and generated a financial benefit of $616,000.

"We have a culture of LSS on Picatinny Arsenal as a result of our training and certification programs that helps people think about all the good things that come from leaning these processes," said Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, with PEO Ammo.

Paul Chiodo, also a LSS practitioner with PEO Ammo agreed. He said knowledge of LSS runs from the top down.

"I think one key ingredient that really distinguished this organization from any other in the Army is that the senior leadership from the commanding general on down are trained and being certified as black belts, so they are leading by example, by demonstration, by doing enterprise level projects themselves, and leading the community," Chiodo said.

The winners of the 2011 LEAP Awards include:

-- Enterprise Level Project Sponsor Award: Assistant Secretary of the Army Financial Management and Comptroller

-- HQDA Level Organizational Deployment Award: Assistant Secretary of the Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology

-- AR 10-87 Level Organizational Deployment Award: Program Executive Office Ammunition

-- Subordinate Level Organizational Deployment Award: 21st Theater Sustainment Command

-- Enterprise Level Project Team Awards: Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs

-- Enterprise Level Project Team Awards: Program Executive Office Army Combat Support and Combat Support Services

-- Non-Enterprise Level (Black Belt) Project Team Award: Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command

-- Non-Enterprise Level (Black Belt) Project Team Award: Red River Army Depot

-- Non-Enterprise Level (Green Belt) Project Team Award: Army Sustainment Command

-- Non-Enterprise Level (Green Belt) Project Team Award: 21st Theater Sustainment Command

-- Non-Gated Project Team Award: Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management

-- Non-Gated Project Team Award: Army Test and Evaluation Command, Electronic Proving Ground

-- Multiple Theater Projects Recognition Award: Third United Stated Army/Army Central Command

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