Airmen -- embrace 'five rights' of information in organization

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Snoddy
  • 71st Communications Squadron
The pace of change in the communications and information arena over the course of my relatively short Air Force career has been nothing short of staggering.
Most of us can easily remember a day when the concept of individual e-mail accounts was virtually unknown.
Now, not only do we have individual accounts, many of us have multiple accounts. The dramatic changes brought about by the information technology revolution do not end with e-mail, they are pervasive in each and every functional community throughout our Air Force.
I'm certainly not revealing any secrets by saying the pace of change oftentimes outpaced our ability to seamlessly incorporate the new technology into our daily processes. The one constant throughout this revolution, regardless of the technology involved, has been the driving need to manage our information.
Lt. Gen. Tom Hobbins, the Air Force's chief of warfighting integration and chief information officer recently said "Information is every bit as valuable as our warfighting platforms, and it must be treated as an asset to achieve 'five rights'-- the right information, to the right person, in the right place, at the right time, to make the right decision."
This "five rights" catch phrase, while seemingly simplistic at first glance, is really a rather bold vision. To understand why, take just a few moments to think about your own organization here at Vance. If you happened to be out of the office and your commander came looking for the latest electronic draft of an important staff package, would someone be able to find it? Would the package be filed in your unit's electronic file plan, on your unit's shared drive, on your computer's hard drive or in your personal e-mail folders?
If the answer to this simple scenario is the commander would not be able to lay his or her hands on the necessary information, then your unit will have failed in achieving the "five rights." So, where do we go from here? How do we achieve the vision elaborated by Lt Gen Hobbins?
The fundamental starting point for making "five rights" a reality is for everyone to recognize information is in fact a valuable resource and to accept personal responsibility for managing it appropriately. In practical terms, this requires all of us to devote the time and effort required to enter accurate and timely information into our various functional systems.
Additionally, we must each understand and implement such processes as electronic staffing and electronic records management. You are not alone in your endeavors, there is a dedicated cadre of professionals on this installation working to improve these processes and available to assist you and your organization. That staff includes members of the 71st Communications Squadron as well as all of the wing's information managers, secretaries and executive officers.
I imagine some of you are scratching your head and saying, "That can't be it, it will take more than that to make this 'five rights' thing happen," and you are right. Taking personal responsibility for the information you create and use is just the foundation, there is much more work to be done.
One piece of the solution is embodied in an overarching program called electronic information management. Once fielded, EIM will bring the Air Force an integrated, standardized suite of applications and associated business processes for such things as records, documents and workflow management. Additionally, all of the functional communities across the Air Force continue to make strides forward in integrating their various functional systems to minimize redundancy and increase ease of use.
I would be lying if I said there will not be turbulence as we move forward, but I do believe the future is bright and it is within our collective capabilities to make the right information available to the right people, in the right places, at the right time, so they can make the right decisions.