AFPC providing service, virtually

Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Ontiveros (left), Tech. Sgt. Sherri Guzman and Maj. Erick Castro, from the Air Force Personnel Center here at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, discuss a question from a personnelist in the field during one of the center’s recent webcasts.  The intent of the monthly Internet conferences is to provide details on upcoming personnel programs and procedures for military and civilian personnelists across the Air Force.  (Courtesy photo)

Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Ontiveros (left), Tech. Sgt. Sherri Guzman and Maj. Erick Castro, from the Air Force Personnel Center here at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, discuss a question from a personnelist in the field during one of the center’s recent webcasts. The intent of the monthly Internet conferences is to provide details on upcoming personnel programs and procedures for military and civilian personnelists across the Air Force. (Courtesy photo)

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Air Force Personnel Center here opened the virtual communication lines when monthly Internet based information sessions launched late last year for military and civilian personnelists around the Air Force.

The intent of the monthly Internet conferences, known as webcasts, is to provide preliminary details on upcoming personnel programs and procedures. The monthly "virtual" gathering of personnelists ensures mission or force support squadron commanders and personnelists have questions and concerns addressed before program implementation or changes.

Web seminars, or webinars, are also arranged by AFPC's subject matter experts to provide more specific details to personnelists on a new process or personnel change. Since October, AFPC has produced more than 57 webcasts and webinars covering a variety of personnel topics.

"The personnelist taking care of 'Airman Smith' will have a clear understanding of programs affecting his or her unit or base," said Col. Bill Foote, director of Personnel Services at AFPC. "It is our objective to ensure personnel professionals are up to date on all programs and initiatives--ready when that Airman calls or stops by with questions."

One of the many benefits of webcasts is they can be conducted on a desktop computer. AFPC performs the monthly webcasts using the Defense Connect Online platform which can be accessed instantly and is accessible through the AFPC Web site, the Air Force portal, or via a link provided by the webcast host.

"We don't have to send people TDY to teach a new process or pay for a video teleconference, which restricts users to an allotted time period," said Colonel Foote. "This literally puts information right at the personnelists' fingertips, allows for discussion and interaction, and gives them immediate answers to their questions."

The orchestration of a webcast is relatively simple. A broadcaster, using live voice-over capability, highlights program specifics through a short series of slides. Personnelists logged in around the world can type in questions or comments anytime during the briefing. A team of subject matter experts, who are also logged in, see the questions and provide immediate answers. Everyone logged in can see those questions and the subject matter expert's responses.

"It's 'real-time' information presented by the actual experts of the programs for us 'front line' personnel warriors," said Florine Horario, Human Resource Flight supervisor at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. "We also have a forum to voice our questions, concerns, and opinions in front of these experts and get the replies from them."

The need for a new way of doing business, while maintaining a customer focus, stemmed from personnel career field reductions over the past few years. Despite the leaner size, the need still existed to provide and improve services to the Airmen.

The monthly webcast is just one of several AFPC initiatives that provide Airmen with product lines or practices that are simple and integrated, referred to as Personnel Service Delivery. PSD provides 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week customer service, enhancing Airmen's ability to conduct transactions through improved Web-based applications and the Air Force Contact Center.

"The personnel program changes we're implementing are complex, and webcasts allow us to reach out to every personnelist and give them the details," said Colonel Foote. "Our goal is to integrate our programs right down to the personnel professional we service in the field. However, our ultimate goal is to provide better personnel services for all Airmen."

Two webcasts are scheduled each month to accommodate the time differences of Air Force installations. This next webcast is scheduled for Monday, June 30. Times and topics can be found on the AFPC Web site.

Personnelists not able to connect at one of two monthly webcast sessions can download the slides and discussion from that session on the AFPC Field Operations Community of Practice.