Automated system combats Guard and Reserve evaluation backlog

  • Published
  • By Maj. Joe Simms

Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center, Buckley Air Force Base, CO, has implemented an innovative new system to reduce the processing time for officer and enlisted performance reports.

Since coming on-line in the fall of 2018, this automated system, created by developers from the Future Operations and Integration Directorate (DPX) at HQ ARPC, has processed nearly 20,000 officer and enlisted performance reports.

“This new application is being used to combat the evaluations backlog and allows technicians to focus on evaluations that require more oversight instead of reviewing each OPR or EPR submitted to ARPC,” said David Kent, the IT specialist and programmer who spearheaded this initiative.

Until recently, the tens of thousands of performance reports received by HQ ARPC each year required individual evaluations technicians to cross-reference multiple data points using several different programs.

This labor intensive process, as well as a new enlisted evaluation system directing an additional 90,000 evaluations to be processed by HQ ARPC annually with no additional manpower or automation to handle the workload, resulted in delayed processing time and an inventory reaching more than 50,000.

As the number of incoming evaluations continued to increase, outpacing the daily output of 50 evaluations a day per technician, leadership from the Personnel and Total Force Services Directorate (DPT) approached DPX for a solution.

Kent and the DPX team provided an automated evaluation system that receives an update six days a week with recently submitted evaluations. This system is able to scan dozens of data points across multiple systems, which previously had been accomplished by an individual.

Initial scans, for example, compare the social security number of the evaluation with the information in the Military Personnel Database System (MILPDS) and confirm the evaluation close out date is in line with the proper cycle and consistent with the ratee’s rank.

Once this data is verified and deemed accurate, the evaluation is submitted to the Automated Records Management System (ARMS) to complete the process. 

When the initial version of the system was introduced the evaluations section saw a 30 percent reduction in evaluations over the first weekend, equating to a workload previously requiring a year’s worth of man-days.   

Since the initial beta test, evaluation technicians including, Tech. Sgt. Scott Spidel, regularly collaborate with the programmers to improve the system functions and reduce the time individuals spend processing each evaluation.

“We continuously analyze the challenges our evaluation techs are facing, present these to DPX and adjust the program as needed,” said Spidel. “Sometimes improving one area will lead to changes somewhere else so we are in continuous cycle of process improvement. The most recent improvement is the ability to organize evaluations by service component or status to focus on all Guard or Reserve members, which is especially beneficial following static close out dates.”

While the new automated evaluation system is able to double or triple an evaluation technician’s level of productivity, there are some limitations of this system which require oversight by an individual.

Raters and commanders support staff must ensure all evaluations are submitted in the proper pdf format. The system is unable to read an evaluation submitted as a photo file or a Microsoft Word document, therefore, referral evaluations that do not allow digital signatures will always require a review by HQ ARPC.

The program is also unable to scan bullet statements for effectiveness or prohibited items.

“It is imperative for all raters and CSS personnel to ensure all bullet statements are applicable and in accordance with the most recent guidelines before submitting the evaluation,” Spidel said. “If the evaluation is uploaded in the correct pdf format and there are no errors, it will update in ARMS without a review at ARPC so everything included in the evaluation will be in the ratee’s personnel record.”

Currently, approximately 20 percent of all evaluations are being processed and submitted to ARMS automatically and it is the hope of Kent, that this number will increase to 80 percent in the future as more improvements are implemented.

“There will always be an inventory of evaluations, but today we are better able to handle surges in workload due to static closeout dates than we were six months ago,” said Col. Ashley Heyen, DPT Director. “We are focused on reducing the time it takes to process each evaluation and will continue to ensure priority processing will be applied to evaluations for members meeting promotion boards.”