Monday, July 30, 2012

A Gathering of the Minds: ECBC Facilitates First JACKS-RW Summit

Edgewood Chemical Biological Center Engineering’s Information & Technology Solutions Team (I&TST) facilitated a DoD-wide Joint Acquisition CBRN Knowledge System- Reporting Warehouse (JACKS-RW) Summit, held concurrently at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) and Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) on 4-5 April 2012.

JACKS-RW is a Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological (JPEO-CBD) information management system that is used by all Department of Defense (DoD) Service Branches and Agencies to collect, consolidate, and report Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) stock quantities and serviceability status in support of the Annual Report to Congress (ARC). The system is also an important tool in managing the shelf-life of CBRN assets across DoD.

For the first time, program and project management teams, users, and data managers of the JACKS-RW program gathered to share ideas on improving processes and efficiencies. Forty professionals participated, representing DoD, JPEO, ECBC, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and the Joint Equipment Assessment Program (JEAP).

“This is the first time the JACKS-RW program and project management teams, along with users and data managers of the system have gathered together to evaluate processes, identify improvements, and brainstorm methods to standardize and display the data to ensure that effective and efficient methods are used to respond to the needs of the CBRN community,” said Pat Estep, JPEOCBD Knowledge Management and JACKS Program Manager. “The summit was very productive,” said Estep. “The level of participation attests to the value of the information and the remarkable momentum that has developed over the past few years.”

The summit was facilitated by Donnie Green, ECBC I&TST Project Manager.  Green started
the Summit with a brief history of JACKS-RW and its functionality. “The NSNs included in the Annual Report to Congress (ARC) list provide the foundation for the Reporting Warehouse engine.  The list of equipment and volume of reports has grown since the system’s inception,” Green said. “The primary goal of the summit is to improve the quality of the data in the Reporting Warehouse.”

The origins of JACKS-RW began in 2006, when the Government Accounting Office (GAO) originally established the mandate for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to provide a reporting tool to track CBRN Stock Quantities and Serviceability for the ARC.  Access and system administration responsibility for the Reporting Warehouse were transitioned to the JACKS portal in 2007, where it has been maintained by the ECBC Information and Technology Solutions Team. The current ARC Equipment List is outdated, and the majority of the JACKS-RW Summit attendees agreed that a more comprehensive and accurate list needs to be compiled in the future.

While the system has been effective over the years, many of the original inventory systems that fed JACKS-RW have been replaced. Since then, adjustments and workarounds have been implemented in order to support the Services’ evolving interfaces. 

“Our preferred method for submitting data to JACKS-RW is via a web service, which is currently being utilized effectively by Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and DLA,” Green said. Green noted that submitters interested in learning how Web Services work can contact the JACKS-RW team for assistance in establishing that connection.

The summit provided an opportunity for users and managers to discover system issues and propose improvements to them as a group. 
“The Summit unveiled several surprises,” said Rachel Harris, JACKS-RW Business Analyst, who assisted with facilitation during the summit. “Our team realized that inventory marked as ‘issued’ did not have the same meaning across all agencies which resulted in reporting shortfalls for some services.”
In addition to providing the Annual Report to Congress data, the JACKS-RW system is used extensively by the CBRN Surveillance community for shelf life extension test planning.  The Industrial Base community also generates reports through the system for use during Industrial Base Equipment Assessments.
Harris demonstrated the wide variety of reports available within the system, which many attendees were not aware of.  The RW reports that are used most frequently include the Contract/Lot Report, the Equipment Summary report and the Quantity by Condition Code report.
Having the chance to discuss the true breadth of a commonly used system as well as share ideas for improvements, proved to be an invaluable experience for all who attended.
“The summit was very productive,” said Estep. “The level of participation attests to the value of the information and the remarkable momentum that has developed over the past few years.  The summit allowed the program and project management teams to receive valuable input from a wide variety of users, and identify numerous actions that will result in a more powerful and robust system.”

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