The Connecticut Wing Information Management Directorate was established in February, 2001 with the primary goals of coordinating the implementation of computer based resources within the wing. This task involves the creation of a Wing computer network and evaluation of software and hardware technologies and implementing them where appropriate.
Under the direction of the Webmaster, the department is also responsible for development of the Connecticut Wing Web Site.
The National Board has approved several long term objectoves (LTOs) as part of our strategic plan to position CIVIL AIR PATROL to better meet the needs to both our members and our customers as we move throught the 21st century. Two of those LTOs are directly applicable to our process automation challenge.
Make CAP transactions web-based
Reduce member administrative workload
One additional recent development that will meld with the process automation effort is BG Bowling's declaration at the National Board to have a concerted effort to reduce CAP paperwork. With the new OMB and Statement of Work business rules we have to contend with, the challenge of meeting the LTOs, following the new rules, and at the same time reducing paperwork can seem quite daunting. Fortunately, however, many of our current processes are so inefficient that there are several things we can do to get us where we need to be to meet our member, customer and auditor requirements.
From this, three goals emerge:
For the members - reduce their administrative burden and speed up processes
For the customer - enhance responsiveness and flexibility to meet current and new missions
For the auditors - improved accountability, program analysis, and reporting procedures
The objectives that will help us meet these goals include:
Establish a "gold standard" national database
Reengineer CAP key processes
Integrate, integrate, integrate - input data once and use it in all related processes
Use the power of the internet
Standardize automation tools and deploy to all units levels (computer, internet connectivity, software)
Develop a comprehensive dialog among members, NHQ and CAP-USAF staffs, and customers/auditors to ensure goals and objectives are met
Provide mission and program decision support and analysis tools
CAP NHQ is well on its way to meeting the first objective. An affordable and maintainable database system has been implemented, hardware has been purchased, and backup capability is in use. THe one shortfall that remains is establishment of a mirror database system which can 1) kick-in should the NHQ site go down for any reason or 2) share the load should the NHQ site be over-tasked. On that front, the hardware is in place and development of the interface between NHQ and the mirror site has been contracted to start this December.
Merely automating our current processes and forms will not meet our goal. In many cases it will just make bad things happen faster. We must first and foremost try to streamline current processes to take advantage of automation capabilities. At the same time we must eliminate redundant or unneeded procedures. By integrating processes through use of a national database and online transaction system, much redundancy and many "black-holes" can be eliminated, mistakes can be reduced, accountability can be enhanced, and responsiveness can be improved. Processes reengineering requires comprehensive analysis and will likely drive regulation and form changes. Many will require a mind set change and certainly training for the new administrative and business practices must take place. The establishment of the "Paper-Work Reduction Committee" will also have a major impact on process streamlining.
On the tools front, you already know that we have taken a giant step forward when the Air Force validated our requirement for both computers and internet connectivity right down to the squadron/flight level. A three year system maintenance package will be included. The remaining hurdle is training to use the tools. Each unit must pursue methods to train their members on use of the equipment, the internet, and the process applications. NHQ will continue to expand the distance learning modules available to members to help in this area.
Only by members, NHQ and CAP-USAF staffs, and customers/auditors participation in the development process can we end up with a system that will meet all requirements. The first step is to identify what we want out of the system. From that we can determine what data must go into the database. Once the data is in the database, information from that data can be made available anytime and anywhere. In addition to just storing important data such as qualifications and dates, the systems being developed will provide timely reports and analysis. Additional automated benefits include email reminders to members and program managers for such things as pending renewal dates, overdue inspections and maintenance requirements, etc.
Significant behind the scenes coordination, purchases, and development have occurred over the past several years. Most of these efforts went unnoticed by the field. As we move from infrastructure to process transaction projects, the field will start seeing an increasing number of beneficial changes to the mission and administrative tasks that impact their volunteer efforts
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