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Eclipse
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« on: August 14, 2016, 11:07:02 PM »

As mentioned in the thread regarding PDF editors http://captalk.net/index.php?topic=21361.msg392197#msg392197
I'm at the tail-end of a year-long process to rid the squadron of paper.

Over the years I've had the "honor" of being the fixit guy for 3 Charters and a wing staff slot.  My first round resulted in
30+ (yes 30+) 55 gallon trash bags of old documents and junk left at the CDS' curb. Not to mention
a bunch of misc cables, pieces of "stuff" ("we might need it") and general detritus.  A few things went to Wing
for the historian, and a few olde things were sent to people who wanted them.

The second round wasn't as bad, but still had plenty to cleanup and dispose of.

Round three was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5+ trash bags, plus another 5 or so banker's
boxes of documents that went to (thankfully) an annual Spring Cleanup shredder truck.

Round 4 is finally coming to an end, and so far has been probably about 10 trash bags, 4 file cabinets, misc
unusable junk, and in this case, the cleanup of the personnel files in advance of digitization.

So much useless paper...so much...

To the valued Admin, Personnel, PDOs, or just CCs stuck with the job, if you're not considering
digitization, you really should.   It's not a quick fix, especially for a larger squadron, but once done, it's DONE.

In all the rounds above, plus other CAP situations, the level of "useless but kept, just in case" is literally hard to
quantify in a meaningful way.

As of writing this, the vast majority of a member's career is encased in eServices, certainly anything of real significance.
Yes, there are some decorations still not tracked, and there won't be a record of the 20 minutes spent as a TFO in 1974,
but that's likely to change soon.

Regardless, the PERSEC alone is enough to make a corporate auditor run out of the room with their hair on fire.

Social Security numbers & cards, birth certificates, immigration documents, cashed checks (?), fingerprint cards,
credit card receipts, driver's licenses and abstracts, pilots licenses and records, bank deposit slips (for accounts closed by WBP) on and on.

My personal favorite - Form 2s and 2as that were never approved, some not even signed.
Pro Tip: These go in the suspense file until approved, not in the personnel file to die alone.

Five copies of the same Finance committee minutes (OK, really?), untold copies of cash reports from 6 years ago.
(times every month).

The fax (FAX!) cover sheets from various forms and submissions well past their expiration date (not sure
which makes me sadder, keeping them so long, or that some of them are only a year or two old).

Now the grand prize winner, an entire file cabinet from a retired charter that the unit had somehow inherited, where the
charter had been retired 8 years earlier, and every piece of paper in the cabinet exceeded retention by at least 3 years.
"Wait, these are from "XX Squadron?".
"Yes"
"We can burn the whole cabinet without even looking in there..."
"Well, what if a cadet wants their records someday?"  "I have some at home, too, I get a call every now and again..."
"We can't do that, and we're not allowed to do that, certainly not in a member's home."

Then there are the files of the long-term members where everything that passed within eyeshot of the member that had their
name on it and in any tangential way could be connected to CAP or aviation is in there.  6 inch folders dating back 30 years. 
"If you want this stuff, it's yours, but we're not keeping it."  "We don't need to know about the FBO luncheon you hosted in 1982."

The only thing more frustrating are members with 50 years in and an empty folder because they moved around and no one
requested their files.  Presumably they went to destruct at the old unit because no one followed up on either end.

There's the box of misfit folders - another retired charter that the unit inherited (no idea how they kept getting stuck like this
but I wouldn't just take responsibility for an old unit's stuff "because").  Clearly there were issues with this old charter, probably
part of why they "aren't" anymore.  Lots of folders with amorphous destruct dates, 1-2 pieces of paper total in the file, and in
some cases, no CAPID anywhere.

The mountain of this stuff times the 1300+ charters CAP currently has should give everyone pause. 
Take the time during meetings starting this week and start cleaning this stuff out, or better start running
it though that fancy scanner NHQ issued your squadron and get rid of it altogether.

Don't leave it for the next guy.

TL:DR Start cleaning out your files this week, there's a lot of useless paper in there.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 11:13:04 PM by Eclipse » Logged

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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2016, 12:57:43 AM »

We should get together at some point so I can get some pointers in how /where you've digitized your files.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2016, 01:14:34 AM »

We should get together at some point so I can get some pointers in how /where you've digitized your files.

Anytime - always happy to cause problems.  :-)
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kwe1009
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2016, 09:10:04 AM »

I have converted a Group, Squadron, and Wing to paperless in the past few years.  The hardest part was convincing people to let go of paper records.  If you don't have a sheet fed scanner, a smartphone and free document scanner app makes quick work of converting files.  As of last year there were still people in my wing that would MAIL things like a CAPF120 to Wing for approval.  We now have a strict policy of only accepting documents electronically. 
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Nick
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2016, 05:35:11 PM »

[a lot]

I agree 100% with you. With last squadron I converted to electronic records, it was a lot of purge and a lot of redacting SSNs in Acrobat, but it's entirely worth it to not have the filing cabinets and paper records to contend with; especially since at the time, the filing cabinet was in a separate hangar from the building where the squadron met.

I'd be remiss if I didn't underscore the necessity to make sure the data is backed up well since vital records are now electronic only. I shoved all the stuff for my squadron into the squadron's Google Drive domain and kept it synced on at least one computer so we had two places to go to recover the files, but any way of achieving two copies with one geographically separate from the other is good enough.

But Bob, thanks for bringing up the subject. It really is an important subject going forward, supports the corporate records retention strategy, and makes life for inspection teams easier.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Nicholas McLarty, Lt Col, CAP
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RiverAux
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2016, 01:44:10 AM »

Coast Guard Aux is entirely paperless in so far as as personnel records are concerned. Everything is electronic.  You have to file a paper application to join but that disappears into the system. 

That being said, there is a fairly constant stream of paper certificates and awards from National or District coming back to the members but the flotilla doesn't retain copies or anything. 

That being said, I would not be surprised if some flotillas still have paper personnel files for some older members from back before everything was electronic.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2016, 01:23:18 PM »

Two more to add to the hit parade.

I'm now finding records retained for 5 years of members who are still active and transferred to other squadrons.
At a closer look they appear to be copies, not originals.  !@#$!
For those scoring at home, there is no retention requirement for members who are active and transfer - the file is hand-carried
by the member (cadet or senior) and the former unit does not retain the records (you can make a copy as a CYA for the
transit time, but once you confirm they have been received, shred).

Imagine the geometric progression of retention this would (and probably does) cause for members who are actively mobile.
My personal file, pre-digital, was legitimately about an inch thick. If retention from former charters was required, there would be at
least 4 copies of the file in various places.  It isn't and there isn't.  Bear that in mind.

One document I recently added to our digital file plan is a spreadsheet of destruct dates - this at least tracks that a file existed,
who destroyed it, when, and if necessary "why".  For future reference you'd at least have a CAPID to go by if nothing else.

My other whiny complaint comment today - nothing says "legit org" like official documents and reports printed on the reverse side
of an internet recipe, or other print out.
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Brit_in_CAP
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2016, 08:42:28 AM »


One document I recently added to our digital file plan is a spreadsheet of destruct dates - this at least tracks that a file existed,
who destroyed it, when, and if necessary "why".  For future reference you'd at least have a CAPID to go by if nothing else.

Funny, I was thinking about that when you started the thread.  The destruction record was my best friend back in my A/F communications days.  The file cabinet was very sparsely filled but the "destruct" records went back 10 years, and didn't take up a lot a room at all. An excellent addition.
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Brit_in_CAP
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2016, 08:45:22 AM »

We should get together at some point so I can get some pointers in how /where you've digitized your files.
What he said....probably by PM in my case due to the distance involved but I'd like to hear and understand more of how you did what you did.  Not a Google Drive fan - my wing uses that extensively and it never works for me.  Ever.   :(
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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2016, 10:11:02 AM »

All that being said...if we digitize the records...is there really a need to destroy them? With paper, you run into the "boxes and boxes" issue. But in electronic format? I know it may NOT impact a lot of people, but we do see former active members return after the destroy dates regularly enough.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2016, 11:45:32 AM »

All that being said...if we digitize the records...is there really a need to destroy them? With paper, you run into the "boxes and boxes" issue. But in electronic format? I know it may NOT impact a lot of people, but we do see former active members return after the destroy dates regularly enough.

A fair question, but that also calls to the why and what of the records to start with.
There's also the non-trivial issue of no standardization of online records, and that the idea is still
"new", with the majority of squadrons still wanting to touch paper.  Until we get to a point where every member,
or at least CC's and major staff, have corporate groupware accounts, and spend more time online then they
do resetting their password, or complaining about "my machine crashed and I lost everything", there will be
"pockets of success and pant-legs of inertia®".

IMHO, everything should be in eServices and there should be no local records whatsoever.  Frankly there's nothing in
these files that really needs to be kept, especially if we get all Decs, PA's, activities, and anything else online.

CS hours - enter, click, shred. If the CC approves the hours, do we need the letter after approval?  No.

Sorties?   Should be tracked in WMIRS, and it shouls be automatic, ground and air - then most decs for
operations are automatic.  The data is already there, just no one parsing it.

Etc., etc.

"pockets of success and pant-legs of inertia®"" is a registered trademark of eClipseco Mining and Heavy Machinery Consortium.  All Rights Reserved.  Let eClipseco service all of your rhetoric and propaganda needs!

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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2016, 12:49:25 PM »

Make upload and folders on eservices. Staffers upload their papers. Sort to proper folders...done.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2016, 02:32:54 PM »

Make upload and folders on eservices. Staffers upload their papers. Sort to proper folders...done.

Certainly 1 fairly simple and already (apparently) partially implemented way to do it.

"But what about drive space?"

Cloud space is all but free these days, especially for an organization with contacts like CAP.  Between limiting
formats and file sizes, and perhaps specifying what is needed vs. "everything", drive space should literally
be a non-concern for this.

I just checked, and the total storage space for my unit is less then 675Mb.

A 5Kb tier of AWS (if I did the math right) is only $150 a month.

Think of that - under $2K a year to rid this organization of paper once and for all.

Add $100K for the dev work to implement and there's something to use that VG money on
that has some value to everyone.
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JeffDG
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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2016, 02:50:43 PM »

The 30GB per person tier of Google Apps costs $0.  Sell CAP as an "educational" institution instead of a non-profit and voila, unlimited storage for $0.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2016, 03:47:36 PM »

Absolutely - that's what many wings are doing now, one 30 GB account is 15 times what the average unit would need.

Just making the point that if NHQ were to implement a national records system, cost should not be the limiting factor.
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JeffDG
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2016, 03:49:58 PM »

Absolutely - that's what many wings are doing now, one 30 GB account is 15 times what the average unit would need.

Just making the point that if NHQ were to implement a national records system, cost should not be the limiting factor.
Yep, and NHQ could implement a system giving every member 30GB of storage for no cost, except some volunteer time to scale up existing wing-level provisioning systems to national scope.  My guess, <80 hours of time would do it.

I will, however, note for the record that we have one unit that I have had to provision a couple of "photo" accounts for their rather massive unit photo collections.
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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2016, 03:57:21 PM »

Absolutely - that's what many wings are doing now, one 30 GB account is 15 times what the average unit would need.

Just making the point that if NHQ were to implement a national records system, cost should not be the limiting factor.
Yep, and NHQ could implement a system giving every member 30GB of storage for no cost, except some volunteer time to scale up existing wing-level provisioning systems to national scope.  My guess, <80 hours of time would do it.

I will, however, note for the record that we have one unit that I have had to provision a couple of "photo" accounts for their rather massive unit photo collections.


Photos are nice, but of no importance for things we're trying to digitize.
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JeffDG
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2016, 04:00:28 PM »

Absolutely - that's what many wings are doing now, one 30 GB account is 15 times what the average unit would need.

Just making the point that if NHQ were to implement a national records system, cost should not be the limiting factor.
Yep, and NHQ could implement a system giving every member 30GB of storage for no cost, except some volunteer time to scale up existing wing-level provisioning systems to national scope.  My guess, <80 hours of time would do it.

I will, however, note for the record that we have one unit that I have had to provision a couple of "photo" accounts for their rather massive unit photo collections.


Photos are nice, but of no importance for things we're trying to digitize.
Yes, but if you're defining a storage platform for unit files, they need to be considered, because they will consume FAR more storage than any documents.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2016, 04:28:33 PM »

Yes, but if you're defining a storage platform for unit files, they need to be considered, because they will consume FAR more storage than any documents.

Google photos = free unlimited storage under 16Megapixels and 1080 video.  15Gb for full-res (if needed),
and then the pictures show up in drive as a folder, uber sweet.

Moving all my photos over there will probably give me back 40Gb+ in my paid Gdrive storage, not to mention the
great features like "rediscover this day".

In fact, now that it's been mentioned, I need to do that for the squadron.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2016, 04:59:01 PM »

One issue to be careful of when using Docs is file ownership.  Files should preferably be "owned" by a few people as possible, and those accounts should be corporation controlled whenever possible.

As it stands today, when I move on from my current posting as CC (whether voluntarily or voted off the island), Wing can take ownership of the files and transfer them to the new CC, etc., from the admin side with little drama, including recovering things should I go rogue.

If you allow members with non-CAP emails to "own" the files, they can disappear without warning with no
way to recover them - we had that issue a year or so ago with our master ES status board that was owned
by a personal Gmail and a user cleaned up some files and inadvertently deleted it.

Much better to have the .gov accounts "own" them and then share out to Gmail when necessary.
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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2016, 05:21:05 PM »

https://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/comments/41iq05/how_we_lost_over_6000_eur_by_not_understanding/
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Spaceman3750
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« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2016, 05:31:41 PM »

Much better to have the .gov accounts "own" them and then share out to Gmail when necessary.

We have a "files" account on our .org that owns our top level folders, but there is no way to cascade ownership changes down to subordinate folders, so there are a bunch of inconsistent permissions. Any way to fix without spending 10 hours manually re-doing everything?
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The moment any commander or staff member considers themselves a gatekeeper, instead of a facilitator, they have failed at their job.
I can't fix all of CAP's problems, but I can lead from the bottom by building my squadron as a center of excellence to serve as an example of what every unit can be.
Eclipse
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« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2016, 05:38:08 PM »

A painful example of running with scissors to be sure.  Even the poster indicates it wasn't Google's fault.

I've had similar "fun" in an Windows server environment yanking the wrong right attribute or deleting the
wrong user, etc.

Users doing dumb things with files used to be a bigger problem then it is today, about a year or so ago Google rolled out
the ability for admins to recover and restore files at the admin level, something that didn't exist before.

You also have to be careful of local sync utilities - I stopped using them a couple of years ago when ransomware got prevalent.
The problem being that if your local machine gets infected, the infection can propagate via the sync utilities.  One saving grace is that
generally the file syncs overwhelm even generous internet pipes and when users start calling about "why is the internet so slow, you
can pull the wire before things get too bad.

Both GDrive and Dropbox have iterative file restores, though neither particularly friendly for masses of files.
It can infect .pdfs, but not Google's native sheets, slides, and docs, which is why I live in those instead of Office and
encourage my clients to do so as well (though that's not always an option).

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Spaceman3750
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« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2016, 06:35:20 PM »

I've had similar "fun" in an Windows server environment yanking the wrong right attribute or deleting the
wrong user, etc.

Once you figure it out in Windows it's easy, set what you need and check the appropriate boxes to either force re-inherit to subordinate folders, break inheritance from above (which you really shouldn't do unless you have a good reason, although if you force re-inherit subordinate folders from above it gets undone anyways), or click the button to force re-inherit the owner to subordinate folders, as appropriate.

Google, no such luck.
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I can't fix all of CAP's problems, but I can lead from the bottom by building my squadron as a center of excellence to serve as an example of what every unit can be.
JeffDG
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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2016, 07:29:31 PM »

One issue to be careful of when using Docs is file ownership.  Files should preferably be "owned" by a few people as possible, and those accounts should be corporation controlled whenever possible.

As it stands today, when I move on from my current posting as CC (whether voluntarily or voted off the island), Wing can take ownership of the files and transfer them to the new CC, etc., from the admin side with little drama, including recovering things should I go rogue.

If you allow members with non-CAP emails to "own" the files, they can disappear without warning with no
way to recover them - we had that issue a year or so ago with our master ES status board that was owned
by a personal Gmail and a user cleaned up some files and inadvertently deleted it.

Much better to have the .gov accounts "own" them and then share out to Gmail when necessary.
All of our Google Drive accounts are "corporate owned", and are .gov.
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Eclipse
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« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2016, 10:17:44 PM »

Back on track, more fun.

Cadet parents with hand-written notes "Cadet Johnny ran the mile in 7:45", or better ">I< ran the mile in 7:45."

Seriously?

I have no issue with a teacher or coach occasionally helping a cadet get PT done when they aren't able to do it with
unit staff,  send me an email from your school account or letterhead.

But cadets, nor their parents, do not "self-certify" their PT.

I had actually found this early-on after the leadership transition, the vast majority occurred with ex-cadets,
so not much of a recent issue, but when I brought it up in a unit meeting, there were a couple of
"Oh, yeah, I guess we shouldn't do that" looks.
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JC004
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« Reply #26 on: August 20, 2016, 06:30:56 PM »

...
Social Security numbers & cards, birth certificates, immigration documents, cashed checks (?), fingerprint cards,
credit card receipts, driver's licenses and abstracts, pilots licenses and records, bank deposit slips (for accounts closed by WBP) on and on.
...

Why do people even keep most of this?  I have LONG destroyed most of these things, looooong before we started digitizing the majority of a file.  We have no use for Social Security Cards or birth certificates.  Fingerprint cards, we can't do anything with copies of those...  I removed Social Security Numbers as a matter of practice, back when I was a cadet admin assisting the SMs in organizing the files...  Our participation letters and all had the SSNs removed as well.
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foo
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« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2016, 07:17:54 PM »

Back on track, more fun.

Cadet parents with hand-written notes "Cadet Johnny ran the mile in 7:45", or better ">I< ran the mile in 7:45."

Seriously?

I have no issue with a teacher or coach occasionally helping a cadet get PT done when they aren't able to do it with
unit staff
,  send me an email from your school account or letterhead.
But cadets, nor their parents, do not "self-certify" their PT.

I had actually found this early-on after the leadership transition, the vast majority occurred with ex-cadets,
so not much of a recent issue, but when I brought it up in a unit meeting, there were a couple of
"Oh, yeah, I guess we shouldn't do that" looks.



I have no issue with it, either, as long as the reason for it is that the mile run couldn't be done during CPFT due to a weather-related safety concern.

Quote from: CAPP 52-18
Test Period. Test administrators will manage the testing process expeditiously so that each cadet completes the CPFT in about one hour. Cadets must do all four events in the same test period, unless the mile run event is cancelled due to inclement weather.

[...]

Bad Weather Run Banking. The CPFT is normally conducted in a one-hour block consisting of all four events. In the event that a commander determines that inclement weather or other hazards makes the Mile Run event unsafe, cadets may “carry-forward” their last recorded CPFT Mile Run time provided it is no more than four months old.

Commanders must make a separate ORM-based safety decision for each scheduled CPFT. Inclement weather considerations include: extreme heat or cold, hazards such as snow or ice on the running surface, lightning, or heavy precipitation.

If a unit is unable to conduct the Mile Run event and a cadet’s last “banked” run time has either expired or is not fast enough to “pass” the current test, cadets may also submit a mile run time certified by an unrelated, independent person. Examples of acceptable persons include a gym teacher, health club official, or an unrelated senior member.

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Eclipse
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« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2016, 08:44:37 PM »

Why do people even keep most of this?

"we might need it someday..."

Well, it's here if you do...



I think much some of it is lack of program knowledge / specific guidance, coupled with a revolving
door of admin and personnel people doing a job most people don't want to deal with in the squadron.
There's also a lack of pressing the issue from higher HQ, and in far too many cases a hoarder mentality.

Honestly, while it's not an issue with everyone, I think that the latter is a legit issue
with many people in CAP, especially on the shoe-string budgets many units run on.

Those of "a certain age" will remember that one of the sacred cows were the "pilot files".  It seemed
like units were always in trouble with either file plans or pilot files, so much so that some
units saw it as a point of "pride", or at least "less hassle" to not have pilots, since "no pilots = no pilot records".

(This in the same way a Unit CC I was inspecting once, who did not have a notebook PC or printer
to be able to get unit business done on meeting nights, proudly explained that "If we don't have any
equipment, we don't have to do inventories...")


Anyway, on my first go-round as CC, I said, "What, exactly, is supposed to be in there?" My DO looked into it, and as usual,
it wasn't what we thought, or what the inspectors were holding people to, it was basically two pieces of paper.
We dumped everything else, and never heard about it again.  Shortly thereafter, of course, WMIRS and OPS Quals
made "pilot files" obsolete and now they aren't even a thing.

I approach everything in CAP by first reading the governing regulation and getting the definition of the requirement.
"No reg = no requirement".  "No requirement = no going to get done".  We're too short handed and
have too little contact time to be wasting on shuffling paper, or doing things "because I heard".
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