FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- The Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management has recently implemented a new barracks program to improve quality of life of unaccompanied Soldiers, increase leadership accountability of daily operations, and optimize available resources.
The Army Barracks Management Program, or ABMP, reinforces the Army's commitment to Soldiers by ensuring a more visible role in the barracks by unit leaders. The change will also help monitor the morale, health, welfare, and discipline of all barracks' personnel, according to Earlene Lavender, a housing management specialist with the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
On Feb. 1, ABMP replaced the First Sergeant's Barracks Program 2020, or FSBP 2020.
Under the new program, leadership at the company or equivalent level will oversee barracks operations, with the brigades providing oversight and garrison support. Under the FSBP 2020, barracks operations were managed by brigade-level command with garrison support.
Although FSBP 2020 provided a strong foundation for the current Army barracks program, the Installation Management Command struggled to receive accurate reporting and accountability of housing resources, Lavender said. In turn, Headquarters IMCOM went back to the Department of the Army to request the change.
"The new Army Barracks Management Program provides 360 degrees of support," said Shenise Foster, the housing systems program manager with OACSIM. "Everybody has ownership in this program. From the Soldier … to the unit commanders and garrison housing offices, all the way up to HQ IMCOM and Department of the Army Headquarters.
"We are all invested in making sure that the quality of housing is up to par and on point," she added.
Implementing the ABMP is no easy task, according to Lavender; however, OACSIM has initiated a two-phase approach to ensure that the entire Army is on board. Full implementation is slated for July 2019.
During the initial phase, all personnel responsible for supporting unaccompanied Soldiers will be required to establish an account with the enterprise Military Housing, or eMH, the housing operations web-based application, as mandated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and managed at each garrison, Lavender said.
Implemented DOD-wide, the eMH application can manage sleeping space/room assignments/terminations, track furnishings, schedule inspections, and issue certificates of non-availabilities, Lavender added. The eMH application also makes it easy to divide the barracks into floors, rooms, and common areas. In turn, the database will ensure the accountability of all unit assigned sleeping spaces and property.
Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the installation's leadership to communicate and enforce Army regulations and Installation policies.
Once users, at company and brigade level, are granted an eMH account and the barracks have been assigned to company leadership, unit personnel will start the process of barcoding and scanning furnishings. This includes all government-owned furnishings provided in sleeping rooms, modules, and common room areas: pool tables, televisions, laundry machines, kitchen equipment, and dayroom furnishings, to name a few.
Getting all company commanders to sign for their barracks furnishing unit hand receipts is a requirement under ABMP. Yet, it will be one of the biggest challenges moving forward, Lavender said. Accountability of assets can sometimes be overlooked, especially when there is a change of command.
"Units will have approximately 18 months to get the ABMP up and running to full operating capability. Every command should have their company commander to sign for [the barracks] and furnishings. Once we have the program [and training] in place, we will be able to identify any issues and make adjustments as needed," she said.
"The company commanders are responsible for their assigned barracks, to include all the assigned furnishings, and the policy [that governs it,]" Lavender said. "People tend to think that the barracks is a non-commissioned officer's responsibility, but maintaining the barracks is a joint effort. The non-commission officer is there to enforce their commander's policies."
AN EASIER PROCESS
The goal of ABMP is to make the entire unaccompanied housing process as seamless as possible, Lavender added.
For example, when a Soldier is in-processing, a unit representative access eMH, build the Soldier a profile or import a preexisting one, and assign them a new space or room. The unit representative and assigned Soldier will then conduct a walkthrough.
During that time, the Soldier will inspect each piece of the furnishings assigned. If a piece of furnishings is missing or damaged, the unit representative will annotate the hand receipt and initiate any relief of responsibility action if required. The unit will then request a replacement from the Furnishing Management Office, and the Soldier will sign for the furnishings when received.
Once the inspection is completed, the unit representative will assign the furnishings to the Soldier's eMH profile by scanning the furnishing's barcodes into the system, Lavender added. When the Soldier terminates the room assignment or out-processes from the unit, the Soldier will receive turn-in credit for the assigned furnishings.
At any point, if a piece of furnishing is found missing or reported as damaged -- beyond the standards of normal wear and tear -- an investigation will be initiated IAW logistics regulations. If the furnishings were assigned to a specific Soldier, the Soldier could be held liable and may pay for its replacement.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF HOUSING PRODUCTS
On the one hand, the Army designed the barracks program to enable a more proactive approach of Army leadership, Lavender said. The system also helps OACSIM track and account for all housing operations across the Army.
With the implementation of ABMP there is better visibility of unaccompanied housing facilities and furnishings, enhancing the prudent use of the taxpayers' dollars.
"The OACSIM builds funding requirements for unaccompanied and family housing services and furnishings for all Army components, (i.e. Active, Reserve, and National Guard)," Lavender said. "The eMH housing operations application which includes a barcode tracking system of furnishings will assist in delivering excellent housing by providing up-to-date accountability of all facilities and furnishings."