NEWS | Oct. 14, 2021

APIMS celebrates 25th anniversary of improving air quality

By Jennifer Schneider Air Force Civil Engineer Center Environmental Directorate

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center recently celebrated more than two decades of improving air quality across the Department of Defense, as its Air Program Information Management System, APIMS, reached a milestone 25th anniversary.

“Air quality professionals are responsible for meeting complex and dynamic federal, state and local regulatory requirements,” said Frank Castaneda, Air Force air quality subject matter expert and APIMS program manager. “APIMS provides a user-friendly, standardized solution for ensuring these requirements are met.”

The web-based tool currently has over 6,000 active users at more than 200 active duty Air Force, Army, Marine and National Aeronautics and Space Administration installations worldwide. In addition, approximately 150,000 Air Force employees use the system’s Employee-vehicle Certification and Reporting System, ECARS, module to self-certify compliance with local personal vehicle emissions testing requirements.

Prior to the launch of APIMS, the Air Force relied on a wide variety of contractor databases, spreadsheets and other software packages to manage air quality compliance and reporting.

Frustrated with the lack of readily available and reliable data, Steve Rasmussen, former air program manager at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and the “father” of APIMS, knew the Air Force needed a modern, standardized solution.

“I received a short suspense to assess the usage of methyl ethyl ketone and I had to scramble because we didn’t have that data readily at our fingertips,” Rasmussen said. “We needed consistent, reliable data access for different bases with different missions.”

To accelerate the software’s launch and reduce costs, the original APIMS was built on an existing platform managed by the Air Force Surgeon General. Rasmussen piloted the tool at Hill AFB in the late 1990s, then began implementation at other Air Force Materiel Command bases soon after.

As the tool’s popularity spread and sustainment requirements grew, program management was transitioned to Castaneda in August 2010.

The tool has since expanded to support additional environmental programs, including water quality. Other modules now include Storage Tank Accounting and Reporting, or STAR, and Water Enterprise Tracking, or WET.

“Early in its development, the PMO recognized that other environmental media were also in need of a single, standardized enterprise authoritative data repository,” Castaneda said. “Today, more than half of the APIMS community are users of the STAR and/or WET modules of the system.”

To keep up with ever-changing regulatory requirements, the APIMS team implemented an agile version release process, resulting in 17 consecutive version releases this year. The team also staffs a helpdesk that has consistently earned exceptionally high user satisfaction ratings.

“The APIMS program management office is the first to successfully implement an agile security review and release approach, and it is upheld by the A4PA information security review team as a model for other PMOs to follow,” said Brent Allred, a contract program manager supporting APIMS.

“APIMS and environmental regulations are frequently reviewed to identify and quickly resolve gaps caused by changing and expanding requirements,” Allred added. “APIMS users are notified of relevant changes and provided with guidance for maintaining compliance efforts.

The tool’s agile response to regulatory changes has generated substantial cost and time savings, Castaneda said.

“The development of APIMS has saved the Air Force millions of dollars and man-hours in being able to support any kind of new regulations and produce air emissions inventories all across the Air Force,” Castaneda said.

In the years ahead, AFCEC plans to continue maintaining and expanding the system.

“The future of APIMS is bright,” Castaneda said. “A robust data management strategy for environmental compliance is more important than ever due to the continuously evolving regulatory requirements. The value that APIMS brings to enterprise compliance information management is evidenced by its longevity and the nearly 1,000 new users onboarded annually in recent years. AFCEC plans to sustain the system for many years to come.”