As Fort Monmouth closure nears, property accountability gains emphasis
April 23, 2010
FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. -- At some point, when a family goes through the process of moving to a new location, there comes a time to decide what items to take along and what items to purge.
As major operations at Fort Monmouth prepare for a massive relocation to Aberdeen Proving Ground, (APG) Md., that decision process will be multiplied hundreds of times throughout the installation.
Moreover, the relocation process underscores the need to adhere closely to Army regulations regarding accurate inventory records and property accountability responsibilities of Fort Monmouth personnel to whom government property has been entrusted.
"Over the years, we've earned a reputation at Fort Monmouth for having achieved the standard in property accountability," said Theodore Hammer, director of logistics for the Fort Monmouth garrison.
Ensuring that government property is accounted for comes amid a complex web of ongoing activities in which some personnel will retire, some will relocate to Aberdeen and split-base operations will continue to evolve as Fort Monmouth moves toward final closure under Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law.
"We have to continue to emphasize the responsibilities of supervisors and hand-receipt holders because accounting for property is a command responsibility," said Hammer.
The hand receipt is the formal document used by the Property Book Officer for assigning responsibility for government property that is accounted for on the Commanders mission property book.
"I manage 543 hand receipts and seven mission property books," said Glenn Gordon, Property Book Officer at Fort Monmouth.
In addition to the garrison property book, Gordon manages the property books for resident organizations including CECOM LCMC; the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical; the PEO for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors; the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; Software Engineering Center and Program Executive Office (PEO) Enterprise Information Systems.
"It's up to the hand-receipt holder to notify us if something is missing from the hand receipt," Gordon said. "Lost, damaged or destroyed property requires a formal investigation to determined how the item was lost and if any negligence was involved in the loss."
As the BRAC process gains momentum, there is close, ongoing coordination among the CECOM G4 office, the Property Book Office and the Garrison Directorate of Logistics to ensure that all bases are covered regarding property accountability.
"As is the case throughout the Army, commanders, managers, hand-receipt holders and all employees have an obligation to exercise reasonable and prudent care to properly use and safeguard all government property in their possession," said Marc Boucher, a C4ISR logistics movement officer with CECOM G4.
Typically, items with a value of $5,000 or more are listed in the "formal property book" of an organization and are inventoried once a year. However, items such as weapons, ammunition, or sensitive equipment are inventoried more often depending upon the codes they're assigned.
Items with a value less than $5,000 are listed in a "durable property inventory" maintained by the hand-receipt holder. However, both property book items and durable property items require an investigation to determine liability for loss or damage.
"We have an equipment management program and part of that program encompasses property accountability within the command," said Nancy Lyman, a CECOM G4 logistics management specialist.
"We visit all of our CECOM sites every two years. Part of that review includes conducting walk through reviews of organizations ensuring that property is being accounted for, maintained and utilized."
"The program also includes people within their own organizations doing walk-through reviews, which include equipment managers and equipment coordinators. It sounds redundant, but they all do it at different levels and we come out to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to do, so we're like a validation that they're doing their program correctly."
As some Fort Monmouth personnel either transfer to APG or decide to retire or leave Army employment or service, the need for accurate property accountability becomes critical with the increasing flow of personnel.
"The supervisor must identify a replacement hand-receipt holder," Hammer said. "Then, there is an inventory between the new and the old hand-receipt holder with the new hand receipt holder assuming responsibility for the property. The supervisor has the responsibility for making sure that all hand receipt holders are deploying, and if not, that a hand receipt holder who is deploying is appointed."
If someone assigned to Fort Monmouth leaves for APG and takes some mission equipment to the new work location, that person or a person designated by the supervisor is issued a sub-hand receipt for the inventory.
Therefore, when the primary hand-receipt holder conducts an inventory, he or she has documentation that shows a portion of the inventory is located at APG under the control of the sub hand receipt holder.
Walk-through reviews or spot checks aren't just for the purpose of making sure the property can be accounted for, but also to ensure that it's being properly used and not piled up in a corner collecting dust. Excess inventory should be identified early and reported for turn-in to the appropriate property book manager.
The C4ISR Logistics Team is encouraging organizations to be proactive in deciding what inventory will go down to APG and what can be turned in as excess.
"We just did a review of the [CECOM] Software Engineering Center last month and they've been turning in a lot of excess," Lyman said. "All the directors and other managers are going through their organizations and determining which items are not going down to APG and getting them turned in."
Gene Coddington, a BRAC Logistics Team member, said personnel transferring to APG should not assume that there will be a wealth of storage space simply because APG will have new buildings for the C4ISR community.
"In most cases, organizations will have the same square footage, but the way the square footage is allocated will be based on regulatory requirements."
Boucher is also encouraging Fort Monmouth personnel to go through their personal files and recycle or shred materials that are no longer needed. "Some of it is horse sense," he said. "When I was going through my files I had stuff from 1993. By looking at it you'll know what can be disposed of."
Personnel relocating to APG are reminded to take only that government property identified for relocation by the supervisor for deployment.
"As activities transit, they will be taking certain equipment with them and if they don't have documentation, it becomes an issue when spot checks are conducted," Coddington said.