CIF closes for inventory
January 25, 2013
The Central Issue Facility on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall closed Jan. 22 for 100 percent annual inventory. CIF, located in Bldg. 313 on the Fort Myer portion of JBM-HH, will remain closed until opening for regular business hours Feb. 3.
"It will take 14 days to complete inventory -- this includes weekends," said Esther Hernandez, CIF property book officer. "It's a huge process."
The process is tedious, but necessary -- and required, according to Hernandez. "Inventory is mandated per Army regulation. It states that CIF will do an annual inventory -- you either do a 100 percent inventory once a year, or you do a 10 percent inventory every month -- so by the end of the fiscal year, it all adds up," she said.
The number of items to be inventoried and accounted for, as well as the value, is staggering. "I have 4,078 items to be inventoried -- $4.5 million of inventory which has not been issued," Hernandez explained. "This does not count what the Soldiers have in their possession. It's all accounted for in the Army's Installation Supply Module, the inventory database used Armywide. My property book is unlike others because we're the only CIF in the Army that maintains ceremonial blues and all the other ceremonial items."
The ceremonial issue at JBM-HH's CIF is indeed unique. It includes Army blues -- blouses, trousers, rain coats, overcoats, white scarves, belts and shoes. "It also includes the uniforms worn by The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps," said Hernandez.
In addition to the main areas of the CIF, inventory will be taken from a second-floor warehouse which stores additional equipment. "We also have equipment in the Directorate of Logistics warehouse [Bldg. 205] -- items like cold weather gear, sleeping bags and anything coming in that we have no space for at CIF is kept there," Hernandez said.
"We also issue all the other organizational clothing and individual equipment like you'd get at Fort Bragg -- your raingear, cold weather parka, body armor, and all Army equipment issued at other installations, we also carry because we have to issue it to The Old Guard," she explained. CIF also supplies overcoats to all four star generals and their staff Armywide.
"Every time the CIF shuts down for inventory, it impacts our ability to get our Old Guard Soldiers here to do new man issue or exchange of uniforms, but we have a good relationship with CIF and we work out alternatives," said Maj. Roy Saravia, regimental S4 for The Old Guard.
"CIF has always been very gracious and either adjusted their time, hours, or new man issue days to accommodate us and alleviate the pain closing would create. After inventory is completed, CIF will do two new issue days the week they reopen and we'll be able to catch everyone up," Saravia said.
As the CIF's prime customer, Saravia said there are about 1,600 The Old Guard Soldiers serviced by the CIF on JBM-HH.
"If an emergency arises, we'll certainly work around it," said Hernandez. "If Soldiers have to turn in items because they're leaving the command, Fort Belvoir will support us. However, those are isolated incidents."
During inventory, extra help is usually provided by The Old Guard Soldiers. "Since this inventory is scheduled so close to the presidential inauguration, I had to seek alternative inventory helpers from my pool of fabric workers," said Johnny Bailey, CIF chief.
"We have numerous challenges because so few of us know the equipment we have to inventory. The fabric workers know the blues inventory, but not the field tactical equipment. I'll have my supply technicians split up and tag along with the fabric workers," he said.
With a master sheet of inventory listed, Hernandez said the CIF's property book office runs the show during inventory. "We'll take the counted items, posting them in the computer system inventory, and then we'll be shown any discrepancies. We do get a 2.5 percent variance in our inventory, per regulation. Our losses and gains must be within that 2.5 percent to account for what we have that we cannot account for, or did not know we had," she explained.
"One of the inventory challenges is every item with a different size has a different stock number and has to be counted as a different item," Hernandez said. "We have different sizes of swords and the size could be off, so we have to make adjustments to account for each size we have on hand. I probably have more administrative adjustments than any other CIF because I have more sizes of items."
Hernandez said there are more exchanges of items at the JBM-HH CIF than other installations. "The Old Guard Soldiers exchange gloves, shoes and other items which quickly get worn out," she said.
Approaching retirement from government service, this will be the last inventory for Hernandez. She retires Feb. 1, after 31 years. Taking care of the equipment issued to Soldiers is a job Hernandez said she has thoroughly enjoyed.
"I love logistics and I really like the research I've done, searching for discrepancies between the inventory on hand and what is issued," said Hernandez. "I'm really going to miss the Army a lot."
Hernandez said with the inventory process going web-based Armywide in 2005, "we knew what [items] a Soldier was issued before they came here. If they were issued a canteen prior to arriving here, we wouldn't issue one. It has saved a lot of money for the Army and made things much more efficient." The CIF property book manager said inventory is not difficult, but it is very time intensive. "There's no easy way to do this. You must go line-by-line, accounting for each item and all the sizes. Our inventory is like our grand finale for the year and we put a lot of work into the entire inventory process," Hernandez said.