Saturday, June 8, 2013

Reducing administrative burdens

The CNO apparently directed Navy Nuclear Power to fix administrative overhead.

If he would have asked me (yeah, I know he didn't, but let's pretend), I would have given him the following ideas:

1. Shift EVALs and FITREPs from NavFit98a (somehow still rockin' it in 2013) to an online system linked with NSIPS. Have each UIC have administrators that can route EVALs/FITREPs, and ones that can approve. After the reporting senior hits approve, it sends the EVALs back to the individuals NSIPS queues to be debriefed, and eventually electronically submitted to BUPERS. Advantages is that we shouldn't have late EVALs, we can electronically account for all command members, we won't have to constantly reprint the darn things on a double sided setting, and simple things like reporting seniors averages are viewable.

2. Fix the ITEMPO export. The ITEMPO system uses DMRS messages to update ITEMPO for individuals. It's fairly easy to use, but the online explanation sucks, and is obviously written by an engineer for other engineers. Write an SOP for the common cases you submit members for ITEMPO and post it. Also, when you export ITEMPO to Excel, it puts everything in the A1 block. This makes it completely useless. To report numbers to my CO, I end up printing the report from .pdf (which is well formatted) and manually punching the numbers into an excel spreadsheet. I'm sure plenty of other folks do the same or manage their own duplicate databases. Making the export feature useful would eliminate that.

3. Bring back eForms. We used to route special request chits electronically through a system called eForms. It was awesome: sailors would type up their chit, choose their routing, and it would pop up in our box, where you could approve/disapprove, sign electronically, and on it went. At the end, it would return to the member. No blue folders, no printed routing sheets, no lost admin. Why can't we have that functionality back?

4. Make instructions easy to find. The SECNAV and OPNAV staffs are good at posting their instruction at DONI ( Ever try to find a NAVSEA instruction? What about NAVAIR? It is a massive pain for our sailors to find important instructions because everyone has a different way of storing them. If all major shore commands (say, O-6 and above) had to link a searchable database of their instructions to the DONI website, it would make searching for instructions less time consuming.

5. Provide a better linkage for TOPS. TOPS is how we electronically send documents to be put into sailors official records. I've had too many cases where I am missing qualifications on my record, but I have some stupid page 13 I signed in ROTC that says I won't drink and drive (which is already illegal, why do I have another page 13?). We should have a process in NSIPS where we can electronically submit paperwork for review, and once reviewed, it would be sent to TOPS automatically, helping to streamline the process of keeping records up to date.

6. Electronically route awards that require flag level approval. Sending awards that need outside approval (i.e. not signed by your CO) are a massive pain. They get lost, and always the submitting command is blamed, and if they roll over three years, they require a Congressional inquiry to get approved. There is NO oversight on this, and it pisses sailors off when things like Bronze Stars and Air Medals get lost (heck, the Army LOST a Medal of Honor submission: I shudder to think how many Air Medals are still sitting at CTF-72's desk). Plus, smaller commands, where you may have more specialized personnel doing non-standard functions, are the ones that get screwed the most. There needs to be an electronic routing for these awards, perhaps linked off of NDAWS, so that they can be tracked and monitored. This would stem the Congressional inquiries about why sailor so-and-so's award wasn't processed correctly, would give much needed oversight into the award approval process, and keep our sailors morale high because they know they will get recognized for the good work they've done. Also, it needs to make it easy for our Admirals to review and approve. They should be able to access it on a Blackberry or mobile device, and electronically sign it. If we make it simple for them, they can spend more time focusing on the operational and strategic problems we pay them for in the first place.

7. Actually train officers and chiefs on using administrative tools. We willingly waste our officers time in leadership classes that become sea story swapping sessions. Why not train our officers how to do EVALs correctly? Or how to use NSIPS? Or what TOPS is? And, why not train our chiefs as well? We promote pieces of paper, and yet we spend no time training our leadership on how to write it correctly. Why are we surprised when they bang their heads against a wall and spend too much time writing EVALs, and still get it wrong in the end? Replace our junior leadership classes with functional training on admin...we'll get better results in the end.