By Mr. William P Bradner (IMCOM)May 19, 2016
Fort Sam Houston, Texas (May 2, 2016) -- The U.S. Army Installation Management command recently became the first DoD component to complete the 100% Quality Assurance Quality Control review of the command's world-wide cemetery operations.
Records that were part of the initial accountability operation spanned more than 240 years and 29 cemeteries on 19 garrisons. The IMCOM Cemetery Operations team will now move from accountability to sustainment operations.
"This work honors all those who rest in an IMCOM cemetery, as well as the spouses and families left behind," said Gregory Kuhr, the Director of G4, Facilities and Logistics for IMCOM.
"Visitors now know their loved ones are treated with dignity and respect and are in an environment befitting of their sacrifice," Kuhr continued.
Based on the success of the Arlington National Cemetery gravesite accountability initiative in 2012, then Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh directed all Army land-holding commands to perform the same 100% accountability mission, and directed them to bring and sustain cemetery operations to new standard levels.
IMCOM responded by creating a cemetery operations team that included Geospatial Information System specialists who travelled to each cemetery and created digital maps with grave marker photos and meta-data in a centralized database.
The paper records of interment for each of the more than 43,000 deceased were then scanned and uploaded to the database, and matched to their corresponding grave sites.
"The key to the accountability mission is the quality assurance, quality control process that ensures every plot is reviewed for accuracy," said Mr. Peter Kendrick, IMCOM's Cemetery Operations Project Manager.
"IMCOM analysts reviewed 100% of the cases--one case per grave plot--to confirm the accuracy of the digital records," Kendrick said.
The team leveraged technology by developing a knowledge management tool called the IMCOM Wiki Cemetery Library that allowed cemetery personnel to quickly navigate through large amounts of information and compile cemetery information into one comprehensive database.
"The database is easy to access and easy to use," Kendrick said, "Easier access to files and documents meant less time spent searching for information."
"This system is expected to be used by the Army National Military Cemeteries office as a best practice for the Army, DoD and Federal agencies to use enterprise-wide," Kendrick said.
Now that the accountability is complete, the IMCOM Cemetery Operations office will focus on sustaining the process with updates for each new interment, and enhancing the system to allow public access.
The goal is to create a robust, online database that will allow public viewing of not only interment information, but of the cemeteries and grave markers themselves, through the internet or smart phone utilities.
"Ultimately, we hope all Americans will take pride that the resting place of our nation's heroes is one of honor and respect," Kuhr said.
29 cemeteries on 19 installations were part of the project, with more than 43,000 gravesites reviewed for accuracy. New standards and business rules were applied at all cemeteries, each photo was photographed and recorded in a central database, and interment records for each plot were reviewed and uploaded to accompany the photo. All errors were corrected, and in the next phase, the photos will be available for survivors of the fallen to view via the internet or a smart phone application. The entire project took nearly three years to complete.