Maintaining a large number of official forms can be a daunting task, especially if there is no data base available to track the forms used and the information they gather. This is just the situation that the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (ODCSLOG), Department of the Army (DA), has faced in managing the 365 active logistics forms for which the DCSLOG is the proponent. About 75 percent of them are DA forms, and 25 percent are Department of Defense forms; many are published electronically. Along with having no data base to manage the forms, ODCSLOG also has had no automated tools or processes within its DCSLOG Publications Management System (DPMS) for synchronizing updates of blank forms with policy changes.
To correct these problems, the Logistics Integration Agency (LIA) at New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, a field operating agency of ODCSLOG, has developed an automated forms update capability that is fully integrated with DPMS. The new forms capability provides a data base for managing approved forms, draft forms, and recommended changes to forms; support tools for authors and sponsors that permit the possible consolidation and elimination of some forms; a capability for synchronizing the update of forms with the update of prescribing policy through integration with DPMS; and the ability to submit recommended changes to blank forms, to include automating the process for managing recommended changes.
LIA has constructed a separate data base of electronic forms that will serve as a policy analysis tool and will allow users to query the displayable contents and data base fields of existing and newly revised electronic forms. The data base now contains about 200 forms. The rest of DCSLOG's forms should be digitized and in the data base by December.
As an example of how this data base will work, let's assume a policy maker wants to know how many DCSLOG forms would need changing to add a "submitter e-mail address" field to all forms. He first would have to determine how many of the forms already contain that field. Today, the policy maker would have to look at hundreds of forms to compile an answer. Using the forms data base, this analysis could be performed in seconds. The policy maker simply would run a data base search for forms that have "submitter," "e-mail," and "address" fields.
Since forms collect information needed within the logistics process, tools that quickly and easily identify what is being collected and where it is collected are important. Policy makers can use these tools to reduce duplication among forms and decide if a new form is needed.
DPMS now tracks the review-and-update status of all DCSLOG publications. A coordinator is assigned to monitor the status of each publication as it moves through the review, update, and publication stages. LIA will integrate forms update procedures into the DPMS Army Regulation (AR) and DA Pamphlet (Pam) management process. Although forms must be prescribed by AR's and DA Pam's, they are published in a variety of formats and often can be updated separately from the policy sources that prescribe them. DPMS will be modified to track scheduled review dates, update milestones, and track publishing status for forms in the same manner as that currently performed for logistics policy documents.
To tie the policy and forms update processes together fully, LIA will construct an automated DPMS cross- reference that can be used to identify and maintain prescribing relationships between DCSLOG forms and policy documents. For instance, the LIA coordinator responsible for a particular DA Pam will have access to a quick cross-reference that identifies all forms prescribed by that pamphlet. If the pamphlet is scheduled for review during the third quarter of 2001, all forms it prescribes also can be assigned a review date of the third quarter of 2001. A single LIA coordinator thus will be responsible for both the prescribing document and all prescribed forms. Since examples of all forms are not provided and sometimes are not referenced in their prescribing documents, this ensures all prescribed forms are reviewed during the policy update process. In turn, policy makers can use DPMS search tools to determine the effect of changes to forms referenced in more than one publication. A form change could trigger changes to several publications that reference that form.
LIA will provide an electronic DA Form 2028, Recommended Changes to Publications and Blank Forms, submission capability for logistics forms. This capability will be integrated with existing submission procedures for DPMS changes, allowing electronic DA Forms 2028 to be submitted for blank forms as well as AR's and DA Pam's. This feature is necessary since users sometimes access forms without opening their prescribing documents. It also will allow the ODCSLOG to collect change information on forms in the same manner it now does for regulations and pamphlets. ALOG
Gregory T. Tuttle is a logistics management specialist in the Logistics Management Division of the Logistics Integration Agency in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. He is the lead action officer for the development of the DCSLOG Publications Management System. He has a B.A. degree in criminal justice administration from Mansfield State College in Pennsylvania.