Center Seeks Paperless Air Guard, Reserve Records
By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2010 Employees at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver are working to securely convert thousands of paper and microfiche personnel records to an electronic format for Air National Guardsmen and Air Force Reserve airmen.
“These records represent reservists' careers from the moment they are gained to the reserve until death, and even beyond, because then we use the record to provide service to the family,” Jackie Bing, the center’s director of records quality management, said during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable Aug. 18.
Phased computer scanning of military personnel records and images is helping the Air Force Reserve move away from a paper-dependent environment, Bing added.
The group has converted more than 120,000 paper records to an automated records management system on an accelerated schedule since the effort started two years ago. This system stores millions of retrievable documents on more than a million records using secure network storage technology, Bing explained.
ARPC officials are continuing the process by converting 130,000 paper records of nonparticipating reservists, retirees and discharged members and 6 million microfiche images by a March 31 target date.
Bing said more than 100 civilian contractor personnel are scanning the files using high-speed scanners, eliminating the previous process of printing out a record, making a copy and then scanning it. The newer process allows more work to be done more quickly, she said.
Andy Hamilton, a quality assurance evaluator for ARPC, said the team has a 100 percent quality review prior to downloading the records to the automated system and after the scanning. He added that the Air Force is trying to create an environment in which documents are created within the system and go into the archives.
“With the use of smart forms, we're trying to make this a 100 percent paperless environment,” he said.
There is no cutoff date for records that will be scanned, Hamilton noted. "If we have a record that needs to be scanned, regardless of how old the record is, we're going to scan it," he said.
Some servicemembers are able to access their records through the Personnel Records Display Application, commonly referred to as PRDA, which allows members using a military or government computer to access their records at any time.
“We feel that there are some exciting things that are happening as our whole work force is being transformed, and we're right in the middle of it with our effort,” Bing said. "We have one record that goes all the way back to 1942. The reservist came in the Enlisted Reserve Corps, went to aviation cadet school, became a pilot, retired and started drawing pay. We were able to scan it, put it in an electronic format and give that member better access to [his] record."