From 2005 to 2006, the Army experienced a 17-percent increase in lost, damaged, or destroyed (LDD) equipment. In 2007, this trend continued with an alarming 36-percent increase in LDD equipment. In fact, since the introduction of the Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss (FLIPL) process, the Army has almost doubled the rate at which accountability is being lost.
And why should it not double? The word is out: Soldiers and leaders have finally learned that the FLIPL process is virtually useless as a deterrent to property loss. With chapter 13 of Army Regulation (AR) 735–5, Policies and Procedures for Property Accountability, packed with 63 pages of dense legal-ese, just learning how to process a FLIPL is a daunting task—never mind trying to master the process in a combat zone.
Soldiers have learned that they have two choices when a piece of equipment comes up missing. They can sign a statement of charges (SOC) and pay a de-preciated value of the missing equipment, or they can deny responsibility and stick some staff officer with the task of trying to prove their liability by processing a FLIPL. What does the Soldier pay if he is found fi-nancially liable for the missing equipment? He pays exactly the same amount as he would have paid under the SOC. For the Soldier, the smart choice is clear: Go with the FLIPL every time.
The FLIPL process is strictly manual. The Army offers S–4s no tools for making FLIPL management easier. AR 735–5 states nine times that all entries must be made on the original Department of Defense (DD) Form 200, Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss. So, S–4 shops keep typewriters handy and clerks busy with administrative tedium.
To make the FLIPL an effective deterrent to prop-erty loss, the Army must improve the way the process leverages technology. By creating a web-based FLIPL processing tool, technology can be used to connect participants, automate repetitive processes, and standardize the execution of FLIPLs. These applications should work together in one tool that interfaces with Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The tool could be either a sub-module of PBUSE or a stand-alone system. By tying into PBUSE, the property book officer would be able to assign a document number and track the status of the FLIPL without having to develop his own database. By connecting with DFAS, the command would be able to ensure that service members found to be financially liable are held financially liable before the FLIPL is forgotten by the command.
One of the biggest challenges of processing FLIPLs is the large number of people involved in reaching a decision. A FLIPL for which financial liability is determined will be touched by at least 11 individuals, including the initiator, the respondent, the responsible officer, the property book officer, the appointing authority, the approving authority, the investigating officer, the legal reviewing officer, the respondent’s attorney, the unit personnel administrator, and a finance officer. In reality, the number of people involved in the FLIPL can be even higher depending on the complexity of the investigation. Since all of these people need to communicate with each other about a common document, communication can become complicated and bogged down. Experience shows that communication gaps seem to be the main reason for delays in FLIPL processing.
To resolve this difficulty, an automated FLIPL process should make use of participants’ Army Knowledge Online (AKO) email addresses to automatically communicate with one another. For example, once the investigating officer has completed his findings, all he would need to do is click a submit...