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News | Jan. 24, 2024

New tool modernizes agency’s off-boarding process

By Misha King DCMA Public Affairs

The Defense Contract Management Agency released its new Out-Processing and Transfers application this week. This foundational step automates the current manual personnel out-processing and transfers checklist and is the first phase of three in an overall boarding modernization program.

According to the program’s charter, the need came about because agency lacked a single enterprise-level app to manage onboarding, crossboarding, and offboarding of civilian, military and contract personnel. The soon-to-be obsolete checklist had to be completed in linear steps to have each mandatory clearing official sign a single PDF document. If there was a delay with one of the clearing offices completing their task, the whole process was delayed until the checklist was returned to the employee’s supervisor.

“The supervisor then had to forward the PDF to the next clearing official and ‘rinse and repeat’ until they obtained all the required signatures,” said Cymele Saunders-King, a human resources specialist representing the Total Force Directorate on the Integrated Process Team that is spearheading the project. “This was a resource burden on departing personnel and their supervisors, and it historically required frequent follow-ups. The Out-Processing and Transfers app — we call it O&T for short — efficiently completes the process and saves time and resources by allowing concurrent clearing of mandatory requirements with automated notifications and reminders.”

Beyond the time and resource challenges, the manual process also presented potentially negative outcomes for the agency and its team members.

“If the process wasn’t completed on time, the agency risked being non-compliant with FIAR [Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness] and the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General,” said Saunders-King, the project’s process owner and a member of TF’s Policy and Programs Division.

The boarding modernization project started several years ago when Bonnie Bailey and Cassie Baum from DCMA’s Eastern Region submitted an automated outprocessing idea via the DCMA Director’s Challenge. According to a 2020 leadership-focused memorandum, the challenge was implemented to explore and find innovative ways to manage our growing workload.

“The submitted challenge was accepted and then put into the agency’s intake system to make it happen,” said Bonnie Bailey, a mission support operations team leader who co-developed her idea with fellow IPT teammate Justin Zaun. “The IPT was formed and we got down to work on detailed tasks like establishing the charter, developing requirements, coordinating the app’s development with Travis Sykes from IT, creating training resources, conducting user acceptance testing and implementing fixes.” 

The overall IPT comprises at least nine members from nine different directorates and contract management offices across the agency, with representatives from the Total Force and Information Technology Directorates taking the lead. The group was further broken down into two sub teams focusing on onboarding and offboarding.

“It’s been an honor working on this initiative with such a great group of individuals,” said Saunders-King, whose off-boarding team specifically addressed outprocessing and transfers. “I had the opportunity to truly connect with individuals across the commands and headquarters at all levels. Being relatively new to the agency, that’s something I might not have experienced for years had I not been a part of this project.” 

Saunders-King said like with any complex and cross-functional project, the team had a few bumps along the way.

“It’s been a challenge keeping the team and others focused on the ‘must-haves’, the ‘need-to-haves’ and tabling the ‘nice-to-haves,’” she said. “Despite the various challenges we faced over the months like keeping to the timeline and managing dozens of great ideas and solutions, we’ve completed phase one and the IPT is ready to focus on phase two: onboarding.”

During an introductory video to the workforce (login required), Karen Schultheis, DCMA IT’s executive director and chief information officer, said the team will continue to add functionality and make improvements in the upcoming releases.

According to Stephanie Rocha, DCMA’s Business Capability Framework program manager and one of the program’s IPT leads, said the next two phases should be completed within two years.

“The next phase focuses on digitizing the onboarding and the intra-CMO transfer checklist and will take at least nine months to finish,” she said. “The final phase will be an overhaul of both the O&T and the onboarding apps into one enterprise boarding solution, which we anticipate will take a least a year and a half to roll out. But the buck won’t stop there; we’ll keep updating and modernizing the enterprise boarding app to make it more practical and reduce redundant or excess manual boarding tasks.”

Rocha said the development of the O&T app is not only a big deal because it simplifies the off-boarding process for employees and their supervisors, it also supports objective 4.3 of DCMA’s strategic plan.

“This line of effort calls for the agency to ‘modernize our processes and related tools and training to empower our workforce to be equally effective and efficient in both the onsite and virtual environment,’” said Rocha. “I think we hit that square on the nose with the O&T app and the boarding modernization project as a whole.”   

The O&T app will be housed on the agency’s internal DoD365-J site. Visit the Out-Processing and Transfers Resource Page for more information (login required). To submit feedback on the tool, email the DCMA Ft Gregg-Adams HQ Mailbox Out-Processing and Transfers inbox.