Sticker shock: eliminating decals saves Hill a million
By by Beth Young , Hilltop Times staff
/ Published February 08, 2007
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
It's hard to believe that a four inch sticker could cost more than a million dollars a year, but that is the estimated savings of the pioneering Air Force Smart Operations initiative that eliminated vehicle decals at Hill last June.
"The material costs were $37,000 a year," said Dr. Chalon Keller, Hill chief of transformation. "Not only were you wasting the 75th employee's time to issue it, dozens of people a day were losing at least two hours of production time."
In addition to the material costs and employee time, which equaled $115,000 in direct savings to the Air Base Wing, there was an indirect savings of $824,000 due to lost productivity.
"It was actually alarming how much the Air Force was spending for that simple decal that wouldn't get you onto a base,"
Although the vehicle decal has long been a staple of Department of Defense installations, since 9/11 anyone entering these installations was required to show proper identification.
"These decals were meant to keep the wrong people off base, but you still have to show IDs, so it's a repetitive process," Dr. Keller said.
The fact that decals are now no longer needed for their intended purposes is what prompted Col. Scott Chambers, 75th Air Base Wing commander to get rid of them.
"Other than, "that's they way we've always done it", we could find no additional security this process provided," he said. "We took the step to eliminate the process entirely in our drive to reduce workload."
The resources once used to issue decals can know be focused on more mission essential tasks.
"This actually increases our force protection because we have more time to dedicate to making sure the people who are coming on the base should be here," said Col. Trapp.
At one time, cars needed to be registered on base and have decals to identify owners. Now with advancement in technology security forces can now use license plates, as off-base police do, to find owners almost instantaneously, Col. Trapp said.
Eliminating decals also have some intangible security benefits. First, DOD decals on cars easily identify government workers to anyone who would like to make them a target.
"So the safety of our airmen and civilian employees as they left the base was also a concern," Dr. Keller said.
"As a security forces commander, when ever we would have an antiterrorism survey or evaluation every single time our greatest vulnerability was access to those decals from used car lots counterfeiting," Col. Trapp said.
The only downside to eliminating the decals are for those who travel to other bases, either for work or vacationing retirees, who will have to get temporary permits and motorcycle riders, for whom the decals prove they have taken the motorcycle safety course.
"Those two things have been the only drawbacks and complaints that we have found so far," Col Trapp said.
Hill was the first base to eliminate decals, but if Robins AFB, Georgia, is any indication it won't be the last. They, too, recently decided to do away with the decals. Dr. Keller said that she has also had many calls from other bases on Hill's process.
"We think it's a great AFSO21 initiative, because it just makes common sense and the rest of DOD should follow suit" said Col. Linda Medler, 75th Air Base Wing vice commander.