SIG Sauer Academy

Army procedure goes digital for recovering lost, damaged property

WASHINGTON – The procedure to recover lost or damaged property went digital on an Army-wide basis Monday, thanks to a Minnesota National Guard innovation to improve its property stewardship.

“We are moving from a 1977 Pontiac to a 2020 Ford,” said Col. Joe Ricker, Army G-4’s Deputy Director for Enterprise Systems. “It is certainly a big change.”

The change means all Soldiers can now initiate Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss procedures electronically. The process, called eFLIPL, is similar to using online tax software programs through which users answer questions and forms are completed in the background.

The Army has billions of dollars of assets in inventories, and ensuring accountability and maintenance of it is not only important, but also a challenge. All Soldiers sign for individual equipment, but they don’t always realize just how expensive it is until it is lost or damaged.

The Army uses the investigations to determine if the proximate cause for the loss is based on negligence or willful misconduct, and if assessing financial liability is appropriate, explained Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Johnson, senior logistics Staff NCO in the G-4’s Property Accountability Division.

Johnson said the process includes several layers of review, can take months, and involves many people. “With the electronic system, it will reduce the burden on commanders,” he said. “They will be able to have better oversight. There will be uniformity among all commands. The process will be easier to audit. It will help anyone at any level initiate a FLIPL, and it will let us spot trends to see if policies need to be changed.”

Going digital also has several benefits in a COVID-19 environment, as everything will be paperless, and the system will be in a secure cloud. In fact, the pandemic helped speed the process of getting the digital version in place.

eFLIPL also is a great example of the Secretary of the Army’s initiative to employ technology to reform the way the Army works. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said last October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference, “The intent is to move the Army from industrial-age processes to the information age of leveraging data as a strategic asset and utilizing private sector technology.”

Ricker said “eFLIPL drives at the secretary’s intent. It is using Microsoft’s Azure Cloud for FLIPL data availability and making data accessible in a multitude of systems to include Army Vantage.”

Army Vantage, which has been a great help in the COVID-19 response, enables the Army to see itself by providing a common integrated data platform for visualizing current and future states of the Army. The FLIPL team will establish a Vantage Data Connector order to automatically populate the Vantage Commanders’ Dashboard. This will allow commanders the opportunity to review the units’ eFLIPL actions while reviewing readiness and other important items.

Like many great inventions eFLIPL started out as a simple idea by one Soldier – Maj. Chris Larson – who wanted to streamline a manual process. He had a team from the Minnesota Guard help him build the automated system and implement it. The team included Master Sgt. Keith Toenies, Jason Spillum and Master Sgt. Jeremy Fish.

Their results were immediate. They found it cut administrative errors and inconsistent packets, and reduced the time it took to process the FLIPL.

The system received such good reviews that the entire Army National Guard implemented it in October 2018. It has had a positive impact on how lost, damaged or destroyed property is assessed.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Eric Crow, the Army G-4’s Division Chief for Property Accountability and Policy, the benefits of eFLIPL also spread to the Army Reserve, where 75 percent of its commanders have been trained to use it.

“Everyone has been anticipating the release for some time,” he said, “and a lot of active component Soldiers have reached out to their guard and reserve counterparts to help them train on how to use the system.”

This past year, Army G-4 conducted pilot programs with Soldiers from III Corps units at Fort Hood, Fort Carson, Fort Riley and Fort Bliss; the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell; and the United States Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg. Based on their feedback, system managers improved the eFLIPL system so the process can be done seamlessly and without errors.

So far more than 20,000 people have registered to use eFLIPL. Over the course of the next few months, there will be video training for Soldiers, especially for commanders, judge advocates and financial liability officers. All Army organizations need to be on the system by October 1.

“In an era when more things are becoming digital, so too are eFLIPLs,” Johnson said. “Today is a great day for property accountability reform.”

– Army G-4

4 Responses to “Army procedure goes digital for recovering lost, damaged property”

  1. AbnMedOps says:

    Who came up with this preposterous and unwieldy “FLIPL” acronym to rename the ages-old “Report of Survey”? Guess someone got an OER bullet. Shaking my head…

    • some other joe says:

      It’s not like the correct term hasn’t been FLIPL for over 20 years and covers far more loss than an actual Report of Survey ever could. Or that I wasn’t using “eFLIPL” almost 10 years ago as a BDE S4. This article just makes me wonder why MNARNG wasn’t already using the Army’s system of record.

      • jon says:

        This is exactly what I was thinking. When I was getting out in 2015 the army was still implementing the whole scanning system…which was fun for items that we couldn’t put a barcode on from the Vietnam era that post wouldn’t let us DX. The biggest issue IMO will always be leadership at the lowest levels figuring out if equipment was lost in actual use or because of negligence. FLIPLs as I was getting out took on a whole new perspective as a flagging event preventing people from promoting or moving. Systems are great but at the end of the day it’s the individual Soldier and Unit leadership that has to take charge of equipment.

  2. Not Your Mama’s Supply Guy says:

    Not really in support of some Army guy’s initiative when congress told the entire DoD to do this almost 30 years ago. Took the Army a dozen to replace the Report of Survey to the DD 200 form 16 odd years ago.