Project Summary

Taking care of its people is a top priority for the Air Force. With all the stressors and hardships associated with a military life, enhancing the morale and quality of life for Airmen and their families is crucial. Fortunately, the Air Force has established the Airman and Family Readiness Centers (A&FRC), to meet the needs of service members and their families by providing services such as deployment readiness, financial preparedness, crisis assistance, Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) support, employment assistance, and transition assistance. To run properly and efficiently, A&FRCs use a reliable administrative case management system that collects, processes and reports all the data related to these readiness services— the Air Force Family Integrated Results and Statistical Tracking (AFFIRST) system. This system serves as the quiet backbone that enables the A&FRCs to fulfill their mission of taking care of the Air Force family. In 2014, the Air Force entrusted Three Wire Systems, LLC (Three Wire) with the task of migrating and enhancing the AFFIRST system along with continued maintenance and hosting. Beginning in 2015 and continuing the work today, Three Wire successfully progressed the system to a modern application that is responsive to the Air Force’s needs while it continues to effectively maintain and upgrade the system.

Background

Taking care of more than 300,000 active duty members and 1 million Air National Guard, Air Reserve and retired members is no easy task— and Three Wire is an integral part of it. Keeping track of all the services provided by the A&FRC involves managing a large amount of sensitive data that needs to be accessible around the world. The AFFIRST system is designed to allow the staff at A&FRC to track services provided to Airmen and their families across their career in the military with a single record that can be transferred from base to base without fail. Records are created for each service member and for each family member that received services, and the data can be entered manually or imported from Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). AFFIRST also enables counselors to share data on individuals that receive counseling and coaching services.

Originally developed in 2005, AFFIRST was built on the Xtendable® proprietary framework developed by DefenseWeb Technologies, then the contract was transferred to Three Wire by the Air Force. Specific requirements in the contract included:

  • Convert AFFIRST modules/interfaces from the Xtendable® framework to an open source solution
  • Provide overall system administration support and system security (to include monitoring and facilitating website availability and application responsiveness)
  • Provide system hosting and maintenance, to include cloud
  • Maintain Authority-to-Operate (ATO) certification and accreditation
  • Continue software enhancements using agile software development

Discussion of Solution

Modernization of AFFIRST application. Using their intimate knowledge of active military members, Three Wire provided the Air Force a jump start to the modernization of the AFFIRST application task that no other team could provide. Three Wire moved AFFIRST off the proprietary framework and on to an Open Source Software (OSS), cloud-hosted solution. Using the agile development methodology and appropriate DevOps practices, Three Wire delivered a modern application, with publishable source code and a sustainable, portable hosting solution. This solution broadened the capabilities of the application and removed the barrier that existed with the original archaic, esoteric, and proprietary framework. Throughout the development process, Three Wire underwent iterative security testing (OWASP) and RMF reviews to ensure the application remained RMF compliant and secure. In December of 2016, Three Wire also attained the Department of Defense Information Assurance Certification and Accreditation Process (DIACAP) ATO for the legacy application and lead a transition for the application to Risk Management Framework (RMF).

Continuing to work with the Air Force, Three Wire has recently completed AFFIRSTv2 and will soon be hosting the program on GovCloud, a sustainable, portable, hosting solution.

Sustainment and Technical Support.  Sustainment is currently the core function that Three Wire provides to the AFFIRST program. These services consist of monitoring, analysis, development and maintenance, while also staffing a Tier 1 help desk to handle user questions and conduct any troubleshooting.

Additionally, Three Wire provides technical support to the AFFIRST program to include developing system prototypes and proof of concepts prior to new releases to production.  This includes providing the best blend of technical, project, and administrative services to meet the customer needs.  Three Wire analyzes feedback and system metrics daily to identify areas for process improvement as well as any re-engineering needed regarding design, development, and deployment of the appropriate solution to correct problems. To minimize risk, Three Wire conducts beta testing prior to launch and system testing within 24 hours of enhancements to ensure the solution addresses the problem.

Impact

Three Wire’s goal is to manage and maintain the health and performance of the AFFIRST system, which directly supports the case management of A&FRCs. The Air Force relies on this system, currently used by all field centers, to help measure the long-term impact of A&FRC support services. Not only did Three Wire successfully migrate AFFIRST to an open source solution, it also continues to provide uninterrupted access to the application, systems enhancements, server maintenance and technical support for the system. The success of Three Wire’s efforts is largely due to their in-depth knowledge of the A&FRC mission, methods of delivery and the software coding platform on which AFFIRST was developed. Ultimately, Three Wire can confidently say that it has supported the Air Force in meeting its priority of taking care of its people.