By 1st Lt. Aaron Ritter,
Illinois National Guard Public Affairs
WASHINGTON – Maj.
Gen. Richard Hayes, Jr., The Adjutant General, Illinois National Guard, and a
delegation of other Illinois National Guardsmen, travelled to Washington, D.C.
May 23-24 to accept awards for being one of the “most improved” Army
communities as part of the 2016 Army Communities of Excellence (ACOE) Program.
ACOE program is designed to honor the top Army, National Guard and Reserve
organizations that achieve high levels of excellence providing services and
support to its Soldiers, families, the state and nation.
Illinois delegation was first honored May 23 at the National Guard Bureau where
they received special recognition for being the most-improved National Guard organization
to compete in the 2016 competition. Forty other states and territories were considered in 2016 with
Wisconsin taking the honor of being the overall National Guard winner.
24, the Illinois National Guardsmen attended a second awards ceremony at the
Pentagon where winners from the Active, Reserve and National Guard components
were presented awards by Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley. Illinois was again recognized as being one of
the “most improved” Army communities, alongside Joint Base Lewis McChord,
Washington, and Fort Drum, New York.
said he is proud of the work and dedication put into this year’s assessment and
he said it’s the completed analysis that guides the Illinois Army National
Guard to improve itself.
program serves as a mechanism and framework in which we improve how we operate
in a systematic, deliberate way,” Hayes said. “We are then able to take our findings and invest in successful
strategies that we can implement to make our operations more efficient.”
said the ACOE directly pertains to readiness and Illinois’ ability to serve its
domestic and federal mission.
Program assists Army organizations assess its work systems, processes and
performance against a standardized framework of criteria using the Malcolm
Baldrige Framework for Excellence.
year, the program kicks off with the Illinois Army National Guard formulating a
working group that includes representatives of varying specialties including recruiting,
operations, human resources, information technology and logistics. These specialists complete a 40-hour course
to learn about the Baldrige Criteria.
period of several months, the working group analyzes the ILARNG’s processes and
programs to discover more efficient ways it could operate. They then create a
report detailing their findings, which are later evaluated against Army
priorities and the Baldrige Criteria.
Strategic Plans and Policy Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Legler, of Pekin, Illinois,
who supervised the 2016 ACOE team, said the ACOE process is lengthy, but
“ACOE gives us an opportunity to look at the
ILARNG and ask ‘where are we now in our processes and practices,’” Leger
said. “The next step is to identify
opportunities for improvement and to continually build upon the previous year’s
assessment, and so on, year after year.”
central concept is that organizational improvement is best achieved in an
environment where organizations employ well developed processes that are
aligned with the organization’s goals and competencies.
recognition as the most improved means the ILARNG demonstrated greater
year-over-year improvement in its organizational processes than any other
its efforts, the Illinois National Guard received $5,000, which will assist
Illinois’ ACOE self-assessment underway for the 2017 competition.
said the competitive nature of the program and the associated awards are nice,
but it’s the process and self-analysis that lead up to the ceremonies are the
real purpose behind this program. He
said the packet also serves as means to give Illinois’ senior leaders a
“snapshot” of where the organization stands and what could be done to make it run
“Throughout the ACOE process, it’s important
we have real honest self-assessment of our organization to learn about
ourselves and to look for areas where we can become even stronger,” Legler
said. “We will excel even more with
those candid and honest discussions.”
and his team, many of which were in the 2016 working group, are hard at work,
making the finishing touches to the 2017 ACOE submission packet. Legler said, if the work put into 2016 is any
indication of the dedication his team is putting forth, then he anticipates
there will be another spot on the stage for Illinois next year.