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Editorial: Army taking measures to improve property accountability

Feb 27

By Col. John Klotsko

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 27, 2009) -- Since 9/11, our Army has been in a continuous cycle of deployment, redeployment and RESET operations. We've had, and continue to have, a lot of property in motion.

The continued success of our ARFORGEN-based Army, that will always have some amount of its force deployed on some type of mission, hinges on accurate and precise property accountability. This is no small task, and it is one shared by the entire chain of command - from the individual Soldier, to every leader and commander at every level.

Precise property accountability enables Army-wide resourcing decisions, and helps ensure we have the right equipment in the right quantities at the right place for mission accomplishment.

We have learned some valuable lessons over the past few years, and recognize the challenges and extraordinary efforts by the entire Army in this very busy time to overcome these hurdles. To help capture the lessons learned, and turn what we have learned into helpful policy, plans and resourcing activity, the Army has organized the Property Accountability Task Force, in an effort to make it easier for Soldiers and leaders to manage Army property.

The Property Accountability Task Force includes members of the Army staff and experienced personnel from throughout the Army. The Task Force mission is two-fold: develop and execute a property accountability plan, ensuring accountability and stewardship of Army-owned equipment; and, adapt our property accountability processes to support an ARFORGEN-based expeditionary Army in an era of persistent conflict. To achieve these objectives, the Task Force has reached out to many Department of Defense and Army agencies to collect, analyze, and record the data and results from audits, surveys and interviews to determine what is working and what is not.

Based on the work done to date, the Task Force has identified 96 potential gaps that have been organized into 15 broad workable issues, divided into the three categories of training, manning and policy. The Task Force is working these issues with the responsible Army organizations to develop, execute and monitor solution implementation. Similar methods will be used to assess the progress and effectiveness of the solutions put into place.

Below are a few examples of the issues discovered and the corresponding solutions underway:

Junior leaders sometimes lack formal training in property accountability. For example, junior sergeants are often assigned as a unit supply sergeant before attending the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course, where formal training on unit supply operations is administered. In addition, in some cases, our Captain's Career Courses do not offer adequate property accountability training for our captains prior to taking company command.

As a result of work done to date, Soldiers can now use Army Knowledge Online, and the Quartermaster Center and School Web site to find available online supply training courses. Today there are three distance-learning courses available to educate junior supply specialists and non-supply specialists working in supply rooms or filling supply specialist positions. And soon, Captain's Career Courses will all have a dedicated block of instruction on property accountability.

The Army continues to conduct manpower requirements criteria, or MARC studies for the supply field. Emerging results reveal that a large portion of supply rooms across the Army are not manned for the amount of work that is required of units during deployment, redeployment and RESET operations. To further complicate the issue, primary hand-receipt holders and supply-room personnel are often released before post-deployment accountability processes are complete, which results in loss of continuity and expertise.

To alleviate the strain created during the deployment cycles, the fiscal year 2009 budget guidance authorizes commanders to augment unit supply and property book activities with contractor support during deployment, redeployment and RESET surges. In addition, since supply specialists play such a critical role in the redeployment inventory process, the emerging stabilization policy for units in RESET states that supply personnel will remain in place for 180 days after the unit's return. This policy should provide stability and continuity of unit supply personnel from pre-deployment through post-deployment operations.

The task force has discovered that there are a number of situations where accurate property accountability is hampered as a result of inconsistencies in asset visibility, and without being able to have an accurate common picture of what property is where, there is potential to procure too much, or too little, from a total Army standpoint.

To assist in ensuring total asset visibility from cradle to grave, the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology has made it policy that program managers will establish accountability of newly procured materiel in the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced automation system known as PBUSE, and then conduct the fielding as a property transfer activity. This action ensures items are accounted for and visible from the day that the Army takes possession from the procurement contract.

A parallel effort is on-going to ensure accuracy of PBUSE inventory data by sending monthly PBUSE reject listings to the appropriate Army commands, service-component commanders, and/or direct reporting units for corrective action.

These solutions, and many others, are the first steps in the task force's efforts to improve property accountability across the Army. Demonstrating good stewardship of our Army's property is a responsibility shared by all at every level. We, in the Property Accountability Task Force, invite your comments, suggestions and good ideas.

(Col. John Klotsko is the deputy director of Supply, Army G-4)

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