The Navy spends $400 million annually to relocate its Sailors to new duty stations. Roughly 10 percent of all Sailors are currently stationed in overseas locations-approximately 36,000 service members. Overseas moves consume a disproportionate share of the budgeted funds allotted for relocation-about 46 percent of the annual allocation. Because an overseas move is so costly, allowing service members to remain at their overseas location for an extended period of time not only saves money, but also allows eligible overseas commands to retain its experienced personnel for a longer period of time providing job continuity and a trained staff.
The Overseas Tour Extension Incentive Program (OTEIP) offers supplementary entitlements to eligible enlisted Sailors for voluntarily extending their overseas tour. Under OTEIP, a Sailor who completes a full tour of overseas duty and voluntarily extends his first tour of duty for an additional 12 months or more in the same geographic location is eligible to apply for OTEIP benefits. Upon approval by both his command and detailer, OTEIP entitlements are granted to the Sailor a supplementary entitlement in addition to the benefits service members already receive while stationed overseas.
There are there are three categories of benefits under OTEIP. The service member may chose based on the approval of the commanding officer of his current command and the assignment officer. The choices are:
•A salary increase of $80.00 per month
•Thirty days Rest & Relaxation (R&R), which does not count against the Sailor's 30 days of annually accrued leave.
•Fifteen days R&R with a free round-trip commercial flight from homeport to point of debarkation in the continental U.S.
Recently the OTEIP Request System process was Web-enabled. The previous Request system was labor intensive and paper-based. It was a tedious process requiring a significant amount of funding, time and manpower. Web-enabling the process has reduced costs and made the system more efficient, reliable and accessible.
With paper-based processing, a typical OTEIP request took 30 to 45 days to process, assuming the documentation did not get lost or misfiled, which happened often due to the enormous volume of messages that arrived at the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) on a daily basis. Because of the lengthy processing time there was a negative impact on troop morale and significant staffing concerns by overseas commands.
To initiate the process, a request was forwarded to NPC, PERS 451 using one of two approved formats: an official naval message or a 1306 form. Both required the command officer's endorsement before processing could begin. An e-mail was not an acceptable method for requesting OTEIP entitlements.
Routing problems with the naval message system due to loss, non-receipt and failure to properly sort the hundreds of weekly OTEIP messages could add days to the process. Processing the 1306 form required someone to physically collect and distribute the forms to various detailers.
The requests were tracked using Microsoft Excel. After the information was entered into the spreadsheet, the member's request was forwarded by e-mail or paper to the service member's detailer for approval. If approved, the assignment officer routed the request back to the OTEIP desk. Upon receipt, the OTEIP desk performed a quality assurance check. The check ensures that the member's request conforms to policies defined in the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JTR), DoDINST 1315.7, SECNAVINST 1306.3 and the Enlisted Transfer Manual.
After the quality assurance check a naval message was generated and forwarded to a senior naval officer with official naval message release authority. Upon release, the message was sent to the message center to be transmitted to the command within 24 hours. It was a frustrating process for everyone concerned.
The new request system is available on BUPERS ACCESS. It seamlessly transfers a request from a “storefront” to personnel management software. When a request is entered through the Internet by a command, all database entries, tracking, updating and routing functions occur without human intervention. The command can also track the member’s request by accessing a secure Web site via BUPERS.
When the command’s representative enters the information, he or she is prompted to click on a link that will forward the request to the member’s detailer. When clicked, the hyperlink will also access a pre-formatted e-mail message, which identifies the message as an OTEIP request.
The detailer receives the request by e-mail along with an electronic 1306 form. The detailer can enter comments (approve/disapprove with justification) on the 1306 form and electronically route the form to the OTEIP desk for a final quality assurance check.
With the completion of the check, the OTEIP desk will determine the final disposition of the member’s OTEIP entitlements in accordance with current policy and update the database accordingly.
The Remedy Corporation developed, “Action Request System,” the software selected for the Web conversion. This software was already successfully used at NPC. The Action Request System software contains a powerful database, sophisticated tracking functions, is network capable, and offers simple point and click operability features.
As with any Web-enabled system, security is a concern. The OTEIP Request System uses password protection for access.
Web-enabling the OTEIP request process reduced costs and greatly increased customer satisfaction.
Lt. Michael C. Farley works for Navy Personnel Command. Mark N. Frolick is a professor at the University of Memphis.