by Jonathan M. Crosby
ST. LOUIS, Mo., (Army News Service, May 12, 1998) -- The military, like many businesses today, is under tremendous pressure to do more with fewer people. Advances in technology will enable defense agencies to meet these challenges.
As it moves into the new millennium, AR-PERSCOM will introduce technology that will not only enable the command to maintain its current levels of support to soldiers, but will actually improve them.
Improved security clearance measures are one way AR-PERSCOM is using technology to improve service to reservists.
A soldier requiring a security clearance cannot be deployed without a current clearance. For example, an initial Secret clearance is good for 15 years. A subsequent Secret clearance is good for an additional 15 years, but may soon change to a ten-year time period. The Top Secret clearance must be updated every five years from the date the security investigation was completed.
The Security and Counterintelligence Management Office at AR-PERSCOM currently maintains over 350,000 records on Individual Ready Reserve and Individual Mobilization Augmentee soldiers. In June 1997, over 49,500 reservists required a security clearance but either did not have one, or the clearances were no longer valid.
The Security Office has managed to reduce that number by nearly 10 percent.
In February 1998, the office sent approximately 1,700 security packets to reservists. This old-fashioned method was labor intensive, costly and time consuming.
Through the AR-PERSCOM site on the World Wide Web, the Security Office has a link offering reservists the opportunity to download, complete, and transmit the Electronic Personnel Security Questionnaire/ Standard Form 86 directly to the Security Office.
To access the form, go to the AR-PERSCOM Home page at www.army.mil/usar/ar-perscom/arpercom.htm. Scroll down and click on the EPSQ link.
This automated EPSQ will enable soldiers to initiate the security background investigation process much faster. Normally, this questionnaire would be manually completed and mailed to the Security Office. It would be logged in and then reviewed -- a process which can take several weeks or months.
By using the automated system, the in-house processing time is reduced by several weeks. The Security Office will receive the soldiers' completed and validated EPSQ, review it and forward it to the Defense Investigative Service/Defense Security Service electronically within days.
This automated form provides better service to IRR and IMA soldiers. Also, as DIS/DSS transitions to a fee-for-service environment, using this automated service will result in substantial cost savings for the Army.
Currently, only Reserve soldiers in the United States are authorized to use the automated system (EPSQ). However, there is no question that the military is moving more and more to a paperless organization. Reservists are encouraged to use this electronic highway.
(Editor's note: Crosby is the Chief, Security & Counterintelligence Management Office Army Reserve Personnel Command.)