An Analysis of the Management Internal Control Toolset

The Management Internal Control Toolset or MICT is one of three Air Force self-assessment program of record to display a unit’s compliance of Self-Assessment Communicator (SAC), Headquarters Air Force Self-Assessment Communicator (HAF SAC), and Special Interest Item (SII). This Management Information system is utilized by United States Air Force Weather personnel as their sole tool to identify unit compliance and submit its findings to the Inspector General. MICT provides a snapshot to supervisors and the command chain, from squadron commanders to the Secretary of the Air Force. This information updates in near real time and is tiered by level of importance and the level at which the SAC is written for. The system also provides a risk-based sampling strategy to assist the Inspector Generals during the capstone Unit Effectiveness Inspection or UEI.

Characteristics of the Users of the System

MICT has four different levels of users that operate the web-based system. These are the Commander, Program Monitor, Admin, and work center user. The Commander has his or her own personal dashboard that shows unit compliance in a graphical display output, SACs with changed questions since the last assessment, overdue observation suspenses based on tiers, observations, and completed observation questions. These outputs are able to be exported to excel for line by line interrogation. Admin personnel can view all of the output statistics that the commander can see. They also have the ability to create or manage local SACs, track and assign these checklists, assign or replace checklist points of contacts, send a message to the point of contact, and remove assessment answers. Admins are also responsible for setting MICT permissions for unit personnel.

The Management Internal Control Toolset Case Study

The Program manager and the work center user have the most interaction with MICT since they are the ones handling the line by line checklist items. The Program Monitor has all of the user functions of the admin minus the ability to delete assessment answers. Other functions of the program manager are the ability to assign observations and suspenses to work center users, the ability to assign Inspector General observations to work center users, the ability to request waivers from higher headquarters on line items that are not utilized by work center personnel, and the ability to validate checklists once observations and checklists are signed off and completed. These validated checklists are sent to the Wing Commander’s Inspector General inspection team. The work center user has the fewest roles and responsibilities when handling the web-based platform. They are notified via email through MICT of assessments, observations, and suspenses assigned to them.

Features and Usage of the System

MICT utilizes Self-Assessment Checklists to present a graphical display of unit compliance to Air Force Instructions, Additional Duties checklists, and any documentation related to job or flight safety as identified by Head Quarters Air Force. The system utilizes a three-factor security setting that requires the use of Government Common Access Card, the users personal identification number, and be connected to a Department of Defense network. While Personal Identifiable Information, or PII, cannot be entered into MICT, Medical Quality Assurance data and For Official Use Only data can be uploaded into the system. The three-factor security allows for no accidental spillage of information or the threat of hackers acquiring data protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.

From the homepage of the system ever user has the same view from the basic work center user to the commander. The quick access bar at the top of the page has seven drop down tabs. A search tool allows users to look for checklists based on unit or job type in the Air Force, identify questions that other units are having issues validating and view the assessed questions that have been validated by other commands and IG inspection teams. The next item is the Assessment tab. This allows users to view assigned assessments, view the unit/work center dashboard, view observations assigned to the unit, user, and any applicable waivers that have been assigned to the unit. The users can also view suspenses that are overdue, assigned to the unit, or those assigned to the user. Users can also select to follow specific checklists and receive notifications when checklist items are updated or information changes. The next tab is the Administration tab, which allows Admins and the Program Monitor to track and assign checklists, assign or replace checklist points of contacts, send messages with notifications from MICT, create or manage local checklists, and allows Admins to remove assessment answers.

The final tab is where all of the information is consolidated inside the reports tab. This tab has sub groups for Checklist, Assessment, Observation, Admin, Program Monitor, Commander Dashboard, and Unit Trending Dashboard. Under the Checklist tab, users can select the Functional Area Manager primary point of contact, SAC information, checklist summary, changes: past, present, and future, checklist point of contact listing, HAF SAC associations, and SACs to be archived. The assessment tab allows users to view unanswered questions, compliance trending, multiple unit comparison reports, assessment history, aggregate compliance, and aggregate answers. The observation tab allows users to view observation details, view observations assigned to the user, observations by checklist, checklists with the most observations, observation cause codes by unit, and waivers. The admin tab allows Admins to set MICT permissions for individuals in the unit and to upload required documents or remove assessment answers. The Program Monitor tab allows the monitor to view checklist and overall unit compliance. The next two tabs open up another web browser for the Commander’s Dashboard and the Unit Tranding Dashboard. In these pages users and the commander can view compliance in graphical output form or export items to excel.

On the top right of the MICT homepage there is an Assistance drop down menu. This allows users to view help guides which contain instructional videos on how to perform tasks in the system and known errors that have been validated and pushed up to higher headquarters. The menu allows users to view program status, Functional Area Manager contacts, Major Command Contact lists, report a bug, send a suggestion, request permissions, and request removal from a unit after a permanent change of station.

Once the user is tasked with completing a checklist, they will navigate to the assessments assigned to them under the Assessment tab. This will display all checklists assigned to them in the display window. The user will select the edit pencil on the right side of the panel for the checklist they wish to certify. This will open the list inside the main page with all line items assigned to that list. The list will be written to either functional staffs, unit commander, or shop-level Airmen. The user will then go line by line and validate that each item is covered in local Standard Operating Procedures and each item is being accomplished per the instructions in the SAC. The user has three options to select when validating a checklist; comply, does not comply, and not applicable. If the user selects comply, no further action is needed; however, if the user selects does not comply or not applicable, the user must upload documentation or justification to why an Air Force Instruction is not being followed. If it is something that can be fixed at the local level a suspense date is set and the Airmen moves on. If it is something that cannot be fixed at the local level a waiver must be filled and submitted by the unit commander to the Wing Commander and a suspense date is set for estimated time of completion. Upon completion of a checklist, the user will select submit for validation. This process sends an email notification to the Program Monitor and the Admins to log in and review or validate the unit’s findings. Once this is complete the unit’s information is sent to the IG inspection team.

Impact of the System

The use of MICT across the Air Force has brought some mixed reviews and different jobs have different experiences with the program but what most Airmen fail to realize is just how much the system actually fixes from the old system. The old inspection system required the manpower and financial resources to fill 60 different inspection teams that would travel the world inspecting units on a two to four-year inspectional rotation. The other inspections that are required yearly consume a $27M budget and over 16,000 full time employment civilian teams. The inspection team only inspected the units on about 50% of their duties and the vast majority of them did not measure their ability to execute their mission. The old inspection system also rewarded and incentivized inspection prep at the expense of mission readiness.

The use of MICT reduces the need and incentive for inspection prep. The system also gives the command chain the answers to the most important questions and strengthens the commander’s ability to focus on what matters most. Many users feel that MICT is only a system that shows Airmen how little they follow regulations or a site that allows commanders to constantly stay involved in daily operations. This leads Airmen to push back on utilizing the system or pencil-whipping an answer to complete the task at hand. The system is far from that even though this is not the Air Force’s first take at a self-assessment tool. MICT is the first self-assessment tool that allows transparency at all levels, the ability for Airmen at the lowest level to write up and challenge outdated and unused AFI’s.

The use of MICT allows users to create local SACs when they support specific missions that are not controlled by higher headquarters agencies. The system while time consuming at first forces Airmen to know all AFIs that pertain to their job, local SOPs that relate to those AFIs, and constantly update information as amendments or new AFIs are pushed to the field. The cost-benefit analysis for MICT is based on the amount of Airmen’s time it takes to complete the checklists rather than incentivizing them to prep for an inspection and paying for an inspection team to travel and test unit compliance.

Conclusion

MICT has changed the way the Air Force does business when it comes to its Commander’s Inspection Program. MICT creates a living checklist that is visible from the user level to the Wing Commander’s level and it allows the Wing Commander to view and assume risks of non-compliance when an item is identified. This system works far better than the old system that did not focus on mission accomplishment but rather that of making sure local SOPs were squared away for an inspection team to come in and review them. The use of MICT also allows for continuous improvement by allowing Airmen at the lowest levels to challenge issues that are not used in day-to-day operations and these challenges are routed up through the Functional Area Managers to be removed from the line item completely or allow a waiver to be generated in place of the line item. MICT also continues to improve as users are able to report bugs and provide sugestions to improve the system.

References

Biscone, G. (2015). the Air Force Inspection System. Retrieved from http://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/saf_ig/publication/afi90-201/afi90-201.pdfMiller, S. (2018). MICT explained … again ; Kadena Air Base ; Display. Retrieved from https://www.kadena.af.mil/News/Commentaries/Display/Article/770933/mict-explained-again/Thum, A. (2013). MICT integral to new AF Inspection System ; Ellsworth Air Force Base ; Display. Retrieved from https://www.ellsworth.af.mil/News/Features/Display/Article/217506/mict-integral-to-new-af-inspection-system/