KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Large stacks of paper filled the desk. Countless packages, enlisted performance reports and evaluation reviews stared menacingly back at him. Board evaluation season was always tedious and time consuming.
Prather looked at his watch and around at his Airmen, hard at work to meet their deadline. Collectively, he and his team had put in more than 250 man-hours. He sighed. They were still not done.
Right then, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Phillip E. Prather Jr., 377th Force Support Squadron force management section chief, and a former defender, knew it was time to make a change. Prather set out to develop an application to streamline the Enlisted Force Distribution Process (EFDP), starting at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
“I came up with the vision of a program I called the Air Force Leadership Enlisted Evaluation System (AF-LEES),” said Prather. “This system standardizes the evaluation distribution process across the whole Air Force, making it easier, faster and less work-saturated.”
Prather went on to add that with the capabilities of AF-LEES, the program will eventually replace the Virtual Personnel Center once it is on line and has the capability to link all DoD networks together.
With AF-LEES, commanders and leadership have the flexibility to review evaluations from anywhere using any personal device, including a phone or tablet, as long as they have verified access. In order to protect service member’s personal information, the program is restricted to official use only.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel C. Rigsbee, 377th FSS commander, spoke about his experience using AF-LEES for the first time.
“I loved it,” said Rigsbee. “The last EFDP we had at the wing lasted over an hour and a half with all of the commanders discussing the process. With AF-LEES, the EFDP lasted about 15 minutes in person.”
Rigsbee said that this application is easier and adds transparency to the process because it allows the command support staff to reduce their workload by not having to print hard copies of all the documents for their commander.
“Most of the workload is now virtual,” said Rigsbee. “All you have to do is go on the app and all the documents are right there.”
AF-LEES has allowed the Military Personnel Flight to change their processes and, in turn, deliver faster service to the Total Force.
Since the launch, AF-LEES has now expanded from its initial purpose of being used for the EFDP to being implemented for any award board, including the Below the Zone board.
Prather received recognition from the 20th Air Force commander, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael J. Lutton, for his innovative contribution to the Air Force.
“Tech Sgt. Prather is an outstanding leader, innovator and Airman,” said Lutton. “His efforts will increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of critical personnel and promotion actions. He is an outstanding Tiger and Striker. We are proud to have him on the team.”
Prather did not do this alone, though.
After making the decision to move forward with this innovative application, Prather reached out to 1st Lt. David D. King, Air Force Research Laboratory mechatronics systems engineer, to join his team as the coder.
“As the sole developer, I built the website using modern reactive web frameworks and techniques with very little prior web development experience,” said King. “Over the course of a few months, I was able to build the product in my free time and get it to a point where we were comfortable using it for a panel at the end of 2020.”
King said that the first panel went smoothly and they were able to learn a lot about the application and make modifications. They were then able to share the program with the rest of the Air Force in 2021.
“It’s a very cool experience to watch something I built in my spare time be deployed around the country to hundreds of users across dozens of bases,” said King. “To know that my time investment is paying off by making it easier for all of these organizations to host their panels is very satisfying.”
With the program’s success on Kirtland, it has since then expanded to other installations and is being implemented at five out of nine major commands and more than 24 bases. It is also being used by the U.S. Space Force, U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve Command.
AF-LEES is now under review by the Air Force to integrate it into the Air Force Network and continue its progression of increasing productivity and consistency for the MPF across the Total Force.