Army heading toward paperless forms

Army heading toward paperless forms

By fall, the Army will automate its first forms applications to run over a single, integrated system built by IBM Corp., PureEdge Solutions Inc. and Silanis Technology Inc.

Currently, the Army converts many paper-based forms into digital files that are Web-accessible. The problem is users still have to print a copy of the form and manually sign it and deliver it to other officials to complete the process.

The first five forms to become automated as part of the Army's Forms Content Management Program are the Military Evaluation Forms, used by general officers in active-duty, Reserve and National Guard units for job performance evaluations. The forms are completely automated and allow officials to digitally sign them to save time and money. The forms will also improve safety in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan where soldiers must drive paper evaluation forms, sometimes miles in hazardous conditions, to get a signature from their boss.

"When we implement this, we don't want to make a bang. We don't want them to know they are doing anything different with their evaluations," said Jan Swicord, chief evaluation systems officer for the Army Human Resources Command. Swicord spoke this week in Washington at a panel discussion sponsored by PureEdge.

Ultimately the Army's 100,000 forms, ranging from personnel evaluations and text manuals to supply requisitions and medical records, will be automated using Extensible Markup Language tags as part of the Forms Content Management Program. This will not only give the service a single format to manage the e-forms, but Swicord said it will also allow users to digitally track the status of forms.

The forms will be accessible through the Army Knowledge Online portal.

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