DOD says it pays to ‘Check It’

Even the most mundane task can affect the overall operation of DOD.

The Defense Department’s internal controls campaign is spreading a simple message: Even the most mundane task can affect the overall operation of DOD — and, ultimately, the success of U.S. combatants overseas. So check your work to make sure it’s done right before signing off on it.As simple as the Check It program’s message is, it has proved to be effective and is even catching the eye of the Office of Management and Budget’s controller.“It’s been a very successful effort because it’s focused everybody’s attention,” said Linda Combs, OMB’s controller. “Those simple things do work.”The program, launched in 2006, reaches all levels of the department, including top commanders, the most junior troops and the civilian workforce. Every employee’s job is important, said Peggy Johnson, manager of DOD’s internal control programs. “We want to do the work right, so we want them to check it because what gets checked gets done right.”The program is applied to every DOD job, from security guards checking to see that doors are locked to grounds crews making sure weapons are properly armed before fighter jets take off.“Checking it pertains to just about anything that depends on process,” Johnson said, from checking whether an account balance is accurate to making sure that nurses and doctors sterilize surgery equipment properly. “If you’re a warfighter, it’s making sure your parachute is rigged correctly or making sure to change the password on a computer,” she said.Marketing the Check It campaign was a big job. It’s voluntary and isn’t part of regular employee performance reviews, but Johnson and her staff members had to ensure that it reached as many of DOD’s 2.6 million civilian and military employees as possible. They distributed Check It campaign posters, pins and other marketing materials to Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard installations in the United States and overseas.Johnson and members of her staff used public service announcements on video screens in DOD buildings, mass e-mailings, a central Check It Web site, and public service announcements on armed forces TV and radio stations. They’ve spread the word via DefenseLink, DOD’s Web site, and the American Forces Information Service.But all that marketing hasn’t been easy, Johnson said. The internal controls group first ran a contest among DOD employees to name the program. Helen Goff, deputy chief of staff for installation management for the Army, won the naming contest.The Check It campaign, launched last July, is supposed to last for one year. But because some DOD agencies started later than others, authorities say they will extend the program beyond the original cutoff date.

-- Guerra is a freelance writer in North Beach, Md.