HomeNews

How to Write a Waiver During “The Summer of Waivers”

The summer of 2019 is officially “The Summer of Waivers” at Edwards AFB.  All members are encouraged to identify opportunities to seek waivers to improve mission effectiveness at the Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe. When done right with a focus on risk management, common sense waiving of provisions can enhance the 412 TW’s ability to support the Warfighter and makes the AF as a whole a more effective force. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Giancarlo Casem)

The summer of 2019 is officially “The Summer of Waivers” at Edwards AFB. All members are encouraged to identify opportunities to seek waivers to improve mission effectiveness at the Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe. When done right with a focus on risk management, common sense waiving of provisions can enhance the 412 TW’s ability to support the Warfighter and makes the AF as a whole a more effective force. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Giancarlo Casem)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE --

How to Write a Waiver During “The Summer of Waivers”

The Summer of Waivers

The summer of 2019 is officially “The Summer of Waivers” at Edwards AFB.  All members are encouraged to identify opportunities to seek waivers to improve mission effectiveness at the Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe. When done right with a focus on risk management, common sense waiving of provisions can enhance the 412 TW’s ability to support the Warfighter and makes the AF as a whole a more effective force. With that in mind, this article seeks to explain what a waiver is, who can approve a waiver, and the process for seeking one. The simple steps for submitting a waiver are listed at the end of this article. Please submit any questions you have on the waiver process to the 412 TW Commander’s Action Group at 412TW.Workflow@us.af.mil.

What is a Waiver?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a waiver as, “the act of intentionally relinquishing or abandoning a known right, claim, or privilege” or as “the legal instrument evidencing such an act.” For the Air Force, as defined in AFI 33-360, a waiver is a tool commander’s can use “to enhance mission effectiveness at all levels, while preserving resources and safeguarding health and welfare.”

Once approved by a commander, a waiver signifies that the approving commander has accepted the risks stemming from the approved waiver. AFI 33-360 mentions three specific circumstances in which waivers ought to be sought:

  1. “The cost of compliance…” (with the provision being waived) “…creates unacceptable risk to a higher priority task.”
  2. “The expected cost of compliance outweighs the benefit.”
  3. “Personnel cannot comply with the requirement due to a lack of resources.”

While these specific criteria are mentioned, it is important to remember that waivers can be sought any time you identify an opportunity to “to enhance mission effectiveness at all levels, while preserving resources and safeguarding health and welfare.”

Who Can Approve a Waiver?

Typically, waiver approval authority follows a tier system specified in the AF regulation containing the provision you are seeking to waive. When a tier is specified, it will be assigned a T-0, T-1, T-2, or T-3 level for approval. This specification will be made at the end of the subject paragraph in the governing regulation.

Each of these tiers has a corresponding waiver authority. The tiers and the corresponding waiver authorities are defined in Table 1.1 of AFI 33‑360:

  • T-0 Waivers:  Waiver authority is external to the Air Force (e.g. Congress, White House, etc.).  Requests for these waivers must be processed through the chain of command to the Headquarter Air Force (HAF) publication office of primary responsibility (OPR).
  • T-1 Waivers:  Waiver authority is the MAJCOM Commander who can delegate this authority no lower than the MAJCOM Director.
  • T-2 Waivers:  Waiver authority is the MAJCOM Commander who can delegate this authority no lower than the first General Officer in the chain of command.
  • T-3 Waivers:  Waiver authority is the Wing Commander who can delegate this authority no lower than the Squadron Commander or equivalent level.

For example, paragraph 4.2.1.4 of AFMAN 91-203 reads, “Conduct and document daily closing inspections. (T-3).” Therefore, this provision can be waived at the T-3 level by the Wing Commander.

Per AFI 33-360, when a tier is not specified and there is no explicit restriction in the publication, then commanders can waive the requirement. However, the commander must provide the OPR of the publication being waived with a copy of the waiver within 30 days of approval.

What is the Process for Seeking a Waiver?

Waivers should be sought using an AF Form 679 and an accompanying electronic Staff Summary Sheet (eSSS). The AF Form 679 and the eSSS should be routed through normal chain of command channels that would be used for other correspondence being routed to the wing, MAJCOM, HAF, etc.

The AF From 679 is well-written, easy to understand, and includes fields to specify the following: commander seeking the waiver, the waiver authority, the governing publication, the requirement being requested to be waived, the rationale for the waiver, the time period in which the waiver is required, any applicable risk mitigation measures being taken, and the impact of disapproval.

Section II of this form allows the writer to add additional fields to document waiver coordination as it has been routed up the chain of command. For instance, if a Squadron Commander was seeking a T-3 waiver, then this section would include signature blocks for the Squadron Commander, Group Commander, and Wing Commander.

Approval, Modification, or Rejection

Once the AF Form 679 specifying the waiver request makes it to the approval authority, he or she can choose to:

  1. Approve the waiver as written.
  2. Modify the waiver and approve the waiver with the specified modifications.
  3. Reject the waiver.

Once the approval authority has made a decision, the requesting unit will be notified. The timeline sought for the entire process from submission to approval authority decision is 30 days, but in reality the process can take longer, especially when seeking a T-0, T-1, or T-2 waiver.

At most, a commander can approve a waiver for the length of the approving commander’s tour. The waiver will expire 30 calendar days after the approving commander’s tour ends unless the new commander chooses to renew it. If the new commander does not renew a waiver, then the waiver is rescinded.

Actions Post Approval

If a waiver is approved, then the approved waiver becomes part of the requestor’s official records and must be filed as specified in AFMAN 33-363. Additionally, a copy of all approved waivers must be sent to the OPR of the HHQ publication being waived to provide situational awareness and process improvement considerations. During the waiver period, the requesting commander/director is required to:

  1. Implement adequate risk controls to address any risk created by the waiver.
  2. If applicable, work toward compliance with the governing regulation.
  3. Continuously re-evaluate risk during the waiver period and make any necessary adjustments.
  4. As a minimum, keep a copy of the previous commander’s or director’s waivers on file.

Conclusion

You can have a direct impact on the Warfighter and the AF during “The Summer of Waivers” and beyond. Now and throughout your career, please seek out opportunities to find common sense waiver opportunities that will enhance you and your unit’s ability to accomplish your mission and to cement Edwards AFB as the Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe. Please see below for the simple steps to submit a waiver and remember that AFI 33-360 is the truth source for information on the waiver process.

Simple Steps for Submitting a Waiver

  1. Identify an opportunity to improve operations.
  2. Identify the governing regulation and the applicable paragraphs.
  3. Determine the waiver authority: is it a T-0, T-1, T-2, T-3, or a non-tiered waiver?
    1. T-0 Waivers:  Waiver authority is external to the Air Force (e.g. Congress, White House, etc.).  Requests for these waivers must be processed through the chain of command to the Headquarter Air Force (HAF) publication office of primary responsibility (OPR).
    2. T-1 Waivers:  Waiver authority is the MAJCOM Commander who can delegate this authority no lower than the MAJCOM Director.
    3. T-2 Waivers:  Waiver authority is the MAJCOM Commander who can delegate this authority no lower than the first General Officer in the chain of command.
    4. T-3 Waivers:  Waiver authority is the Wing Commander who can delegate this authority no lower than the Squadron Commander or equivalent level.
  4. If it’s a non-tiered waiver, does the governing regulation explicitly define the waiver authority or impose any restrictions on waivers?
    1. If the publication does not explicitly define the waiver authority or impose restrictions, then commanders may waive the requirement.
    2. In this case, an AF Form 679 must still be routed to the OPR of the Higher Headquarter publication being waived.
  5. Discuss and refine your ideas with your leadership.
  6. Complete an AF Form 679.
  7. Route the AF Form 679 and an eSSS through your chain of command.  You unit’s commander’s support staff should be able to assist you with the eSSS process.
  8. When your unit receives the approved, modified, or rejected waiver request back, keep it on file for reference.

News Search