Division of Commissioned Personnel (DCP),
U.S. Public Health Service

Promotion Boards and Personnel Record Storage
Summary of work performed: 

The United States Public Health Service (PHS), founded in 1798, is composed of more than 6000 commissioned corps officers and 50,000 civil service employees worldwide. The PHS mission is to provide highly trained and mobile health professionals that deliver health expertise in time of war or other national or international emergencies.

The Division of Commissioned Personnel (DCP) maintains Official Personnel Folders (OPF) for each of the 6000 commissioned officers. These folders contain documents pertaining to all areas of the officers’ careers and the information is the basis for promotion review. One-third of the commissioned corps officers are eligible for promotion annually. All of the OPF records are stored at PHS headquarters in Rockville, MD — more than 1.5 million pieces of paper. 


The Challenges

The Division faced a number of problems with its paper system. DCP has a very structured promotion cycle, with up to one-third of the commissioned personnel cycled for promotion each year.  Because the information contained in the OPF folders is critical to the career advancement of the officers, personnel have the right to see the information. The geographic disbursement of the commissioned corps frequently required large files to be copied and either mailed to remote locations or required the officers to travel to Maryland to actually review the folders resulting in extremely high travel costs. Additionally, documents are constantly received and processed at DCP and need to be filed in the OPF prior to the promotion deadline. At the time an officer is eligible for promotion, he or she is reviewed by more than one examiner. Each examiner needs access to the OPF and often spends time waiting to receive the file.

Finally, DCP had years of experience with their paper-based processes.  They were comfortable with paper, but knew that the time and money factors required making a change.  Therefore, it was critical that any new system be easy-to-use and be created based upon input and approval of DCP personnel.

The iDox Solution!

iDoxSolutions personnel using the CAM methodology, proposed two phases to this solution.  The first phase was the Functional System Design Phase, which documented the manual promotion board process and the paper-based, filing system for personnel records.  After a six-week review followed by a verification and approval process by the customer, the deliverables were approved and accepted.  The deliverables included a Systems Design Document, a Systems Delivery Plan and all associated Platform Recommendations.

The second phase of the solution was to build, develop and integrate the proposed solution. This included the conversion of 6,000 Official Personnel Files, which had over 100 document types to digital format; web-enabling the files and providing a completely paperless process for DCP to review their Personnel folders and creating an automated work process for scoring and selecting all candidates for promotion.

With the scan, store and retrieve system, all information is electronic and can be viewed from anywhere in the world via the Internet. Personnel can add documents to the folders by submitting them via fax or electronically via the Internet. This removes the need for personnel to travel and allows for multiple and simultaneous user access. Because the system is backed up electronically, it also provides a complete disaster recovery system that solves problems created when critical files are lost.  The procedure is simple to use and makes it easy for approved personnel to access to their files at any time from anywhere.

The Electronic Promotion Processing System automates the actual review process. When an officer becomes eligible for promotion, his OPF is automatically sent to the approved reviewers electronically. These reviewers rate each of the officers and the scoring is sent back automatically and anonymously. The system then performs the calculations that determine whether or not an officer is promoted. This solution has greatly streamlined the DCP promotion process and improved the speed and productivity of the reviewers.  Again, by including input from the customer and applying iDoxSolutions experience, the transformation from paper-based to electronic was effortless; easy to operate and intuitive to use.

Summary of Results and Benefits

  • Reduced mailing costs significantly
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Increased employee satisfaction by reducing response to file requests
  •  Increased communication to the employee
  • Provides easy access
  • Eliminated mis-files
  • Increased processing effectiveness by simplifying work process
     – Eliminated making copies for Board
     – Streamlined work effort
     – Allows for less time spent away from Board members home location
     – Simplifies process
  •  Reduced cost of administration